A few weeks back we were filled with optimism for the new season, after three signings that in comparison to Arsenals usual transfer fees would be considered as ‘expensive’. I like many fans fell into believing that maybe things were changing for the better. No sooner than we started to believe we were brought back to the harsh reality that comes with supporting Arsenal. Rumours had been spread around, but with nothing confirmed and so many possible outcomes, being hopeful seemed the best way forward. Was there really any chance of us spending £40 million without any income? No. Since those hopeful days we have sold Robin Van Persie for £24 million, Alex Song for £15 million, and Kyle Bartley for £1 million. Totalling at £42 million, a £2 million profit with the likes of Bendtner and potentially some others still searching for the exit door. Still no news on Walcott. Wenger has confirmed he’d like a replacement for Song, but Sahin on loan seems the most likely option at present, with no replacements for the others intended as Wenger has ‘already bought them.’
Going into Saturday’s game with a lowering of expectations seemed appropriate, but as in each Premier League meeting with Sunderland ever, we expected to win. With Sunderland only beating us once in the last seventeen Premier League meetings.
The game was dull for long periods, and Szczesny was called into action twice relatively early on in the game, due to a poorly placed Jenkinson and an all too familiar slowly paced Mertsacker. Albeit Szczesny was then made redunant for the rest of the game.
There were glimours of promisiing football, most notably in the first half. Cazorla charging forward a few times, without a doubt the most sharp player out there despite travelling from Puerto Rico and having to have a late fitness test. Walcott pulled a ball back to Podolski who did well to get on to it, but touched it just wide. And Gervinho made a great run forward before pulling it back to Cazorla who made his way in front of Podolski to take the shot. Which went wide. Annoyingly, Podolski scored a cracker last Sunday against Cologne from that very position with a left-foot curl away from the keeper. Perhaps if he’d taken more control of his position, as the striker, it would have been a different story. But that we’ll never know.
Moving on, Walcott looked disengaged from the game for long periods, perhaps a sign of him being unsure whether to extend his contract or not. Maybe I’m reading into that too much? He’s always been inconsistent. A solid performance from Arteta in the middle as you’d always expect, but nothing special, and with Sunderland posing no threat at all in the second half especially, he lacked any real involvement again. Diaby too, was in a similar situation. He was subbed off for Aaron Ramsey, a player who has yet to reach his best. I hope.
Giroud came on for Podolski around the hour mark, and the new number 12 missed the best chance of the game in the last 10 minutes, after giving fairly little for most his time on the pitch. Cazorla took the ball forward with Arshavin to his left, drawing away a defender, leaving Giroud to bend his run and receive a perfectly waited pass from Cazorla, on his favoured right foot. The rest is history. Perhaps a moment of panic, or excitment, or both. It flashed wide of the post, much to the frustration of Wenger, who flapped his arms in the air. The reality is that we will never buy someone who is as good as RVP, while they’re that good. 2, 3, maybe 4 years before they reach that standard, yes. But as usual, we’ll just have to wait.
Giroud could have become an instant success. A late, well-taken, winning goal; grabbing the 3 points, giving him confidence for the future. But unfortunatley the opposite as probably happened. And I shall end this review as I started it, a number of chances, including that last one, against a Sunderland team who clearly came to get a point. Promising. Under the circumstances at least.