It was another extremely disappointing performance as Arsenal were knocked out of their last realistic chance of a trophy this season and what is worse is that it was a completely spineless performance. Whether it be a knock-on effect from the midweek game against Milan or not, the performance was simply not good enough and it certainly begs the question over how players such as Djourou have managed to get contract renewals at the Emirates.
While a man many Arsenal fans will not like, his brutal assessment of the current Arsenal team very much has validity and truth. Manchester United great Roy Keane gave his honest opinion of this current Arsenal team at the half-time mark saying this was ‘the worst Arsenal team’ he has seen in all his time of watching football. Couple this with the recent opinions by Petit and Dixon and something needs to change.
Although I don’t particularly agree with him on his view of wearing gloves, his last statement about how Arsenal have played recently is spot on and needs addressing. ‘They’ve been sloppy, which led to the goal, there has been no focus to their passing. It’s been slow it’s been sideways, it’s been backwards.’ Ramsey simply is out of his depth and simply does not have the capability of replacing Fabregas in the advanced midfielder role. We need creativity and we need it fast.
I will not make comparisons between Arteta and Fabregas as they play different roles. Arteta is the tempo setter, the link between attack and defence more like Jack Wilshere, but Ramsey has the role where he is expected to make defence splitting passes and it simply hasn’t happened while he has played that position. But in saying this, there could be a light at the end of the tunnel with Wilshere set to return at the back-end of this season. It says something when your holding midfielder Alex Song has been the most creative Arsenal player this season.
The only positive out of the week that has passed is that we can now solely focus on the Premier League and getting that all important top four position. It is odd to say, but the upcoming tie against Tottenham will be an extremely tough one and simply put the players need to inject some passion and spirit into their performance if they have any chance of coming away with a win.
on the team’s display…
We put in a committed performance and gave absolutely everything that was left in our legs. It was a very difficult game. We had a very unfortunate schedule because we played away in the Champions League then straight away [we played] away again on some very difficult pitches.
We fought hard today. I felt we were a bit unlucky because there was a 100 per cent penalty for us that Mr Webb missed and then the first shot [for Sunderland] was a goal.
Then we had to chase the game and take every gamble and we were caught on the counter for the second goal. We had a lot of possession but didn’t create a lot, which was down to fantastic defending from Sunderland.
on dealing with criticism…
We have to take the critics on board, stay together and face them. There is only one response in our job; stay united, fight and focus on the next game.
on ending the season without silverware…
It is too early to say where it leaves us and what we will do. Let’s focus on the next game in the championship and fight, even if there is a small possibility [of progressing], in the Champions League. We have a big game next Saturday, we lost three players today and we are starting to get very short.
on the next steps…
At the moment it is best to let people talk, criticise, analyse and destroy and on our side it is important to show internal strength and resilience and come out with a strong performance in our next game.
Squillaci was injured. Coquelin is injured. Ramsey is injured.
Sagna Djourou Vermaelen Coquelin
Gervinho Ramsey Chamberlain
Van Persie (c)
Lukasz Fabianski | 6.o: Had a tidy display in the goal for Arsenal, but could do little about the two goals that the gunners conceded. Good to see he wasn’t the ‘flappy-hand-ski’ of old.
Bacary Sagna | 4.5: Couldn’t really deal with McClean and was always on the back foot which forced him down the path to tactical fouling. Luckily the referee wasn’t card-happy this game or things could’ve panned out differet for the Frecnhman
Johan Djourou | 4.0: Out of position and looked like about as comfortable as a boy taking out a girl for the first time. Has to shoulder some responsibility for the opening goal.
Thomas Vermalen | 5.0: It was weird to see that the Belgian looked more comfortable out wide after Coquelin came off injured 10 minutes into the match. Not a particularly strong performance.
Francis Coquelin | N/A: Was looking comfortable, but pulled up injured early in the match.
Alexandre Song | 5.0: Was forced deep into his own territory, meaning he had very little influence on attack.
Mikel Arteta | 5.0: It was the usual display from the Frenchman. Good distribution, plenty of ball but lacked the creativity to penetrate the tight Sunderland defence.
Aaron Ramsey | 5.0: Could hardly impose himself on the game and lacked creativity up front. Was subbed for Walcott early in the second half after receiving a knock.
Gervinho | 6.5: Looked lively and dangerous, which is good to see after his return from the African Nations Cup. Although in saying this he received to little of the ball.
Robin van Persie | 5.0: Totally isolated up front. Often found himself marked by multiple Sunderland defenders and was crowded out of the match.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain | 6.0: You can’t fault the young Englishman for effort, but like Van Persie was marked by multiple defenders. Unfortunate to concede an own goal.
- Notable substitions
Sebastian Squillaci | 4.5: Became a substituted substitute, which really tells you all you need to know about his performance.
Tomas Rosicky | 5.0: Full marks for trying. Tried to run with the ball and looked lively, but couldn’t quite execute.
Theo Walcott | 4.5: Totally absent from the match. Definitely not a legend, more like a myth.