Sunday, 6 March 2011

Two disgusting decisions cost Arsenal + player ratings

Arsenal 0 - Sunerland 0
At Ashburton Grove

There appeared to be many hung over people yesterday at the Grove - and that included the players.

I wonder had they not had an important game on Tuesday whether Arsene Wenger would have played the vast majority of the Carling Cup final team against Leyton Orient on Wednesday night. 

Maybe it could have helped these players get over the malaise which so clearly affected them for the majority of this game.

It was dull. There isn't many other words which could have described the Arsenal performance.

Sunderland coming into the game on the back of four straight defeats certainly didn't want to get turned over.  And that's how Steve Bruce set them up.

They were well drilled. They gave us very little time on the ball and that never allowed us to get into our stride. They pressed us all over the pitch. 

Sunderland might have taken an early lead. We were that slow out of the blocks. Malbranque should have done better with his opportunity.

The first half offered us very little in the way of clear cut chances. Nasri had a shot saved easily early on. 

Sunderland had a chance when Sessegnon's effort across goal produced a fine save from Szczesny. But there was very little for our goalkeeper to do as Arsenal gained more control of the game.

Nicklas Bendtner had an  good opportunity to score. A weaving dribble from Nasri right into the Sunderland box forced a corner and from the set piece, the balled ricocheted to Bendtner who tried an over head kick which when straight into the keeper's arms.

Wilshere played a ball over the top which Bendtner brought down and fired goal wards only a smart save by Mignolet could deny him.

At half time it was goalless. I thought Wilshere was struggling to make an impact in the 'Cesc role' behind the striker. Neither Diaby nor Denilson were helping him out. Both deep lying midfielders were pedestrian and both can offer more. They seem to be certainly lacking in momentum and I imagine going from game to game knowing they are unlikely to start and not getting much playing time at all is hard. I know they are better players than they showed in the first half.

So we ended up bypassing the pair and bringing the ball out of defence via Koscielny driving forward with it. That seemed to open up space as Sunderland were playing with five in midfield.

As we went into the second we seemed to up the pace slightly. Most of the game was played in the Sunderland half. 

The game was bitty and not much in the way of goal scoring opportunities were created. Arsenal needed some sort of change and the manager decided to make it.

Denilson was replaced by Marouane Chamakh 68 minutes into the game. This enabled us to switch things around, with Bendtner going to the right and Nasri dropping back alongside Diaby.

The striker was set free on the right not long after his introduction. He set the ball back as the on rushing Arshavin and Nasri caught up with him.

It was the Russian it was aimed for but his shot was easily saved. Nasri might have been the better option as he was free at the back post.

There was heavy pressure on the Sunderland defence. We had the majority of the possession and camped in their half.

Koscielny drew a foul on the edge of the area in the 72nd minute. Nasri stepped forward to take the free kick and it produced a good save.

A Chamakh header hit the bar minutes later from a Wilshere cross and the tide of Arsenal pressure was keeping Sunderland locked in their own half.

Wenger wanted to make another change. Rosicky seem to be waiting an age to enter the field of play as Arsenal attacked and attacked but could not find the break through. 

Eventually the substitution was made after a Sagna effort sailed over the bar.

We were heading down to the final ten minutes. I thought to myself it wasn't going to be our day. We'd just not been able to find our way passed Mignolet.

As just as I thought that Arsahvin won a foot race with Titus Bramble. The Russian burst into the box and fired wide. It wasn't until after the match that I was told it was a clear penalty. From my position inside the Grove I couldn't see the clear as day two handed push the Englishman made on our player.

Quite how neither the referee or his assistant who should have been keeping up with play saw it or gave it I'll never know.

Then the Russian had a second chance. He ran through from an excellent defence splitting pass from Nicklas Bendtner, rounded the keeper and slotted the ball home only to be ruled offside.

Television replays showed he was played onside by Anton Ferdinand.

Two big decisions which were wrongly called.

Sunderland broke down the other end and it was only a smartsave from Szczesny which saved us from dropping all three points. He had to get down well to save from Danny Wellbeck.

It ended 0-0. There were boos at the final whistle. I don't quite understand why. Should Gooners expect Arsenal to win every game? Football as we know is not like that.

There has already been a lot of criticism of Denison and Abou Diaby. I don't think all of it is justified. I know I'm in the minority here. I have great sympathy with them both. Neither have had a run of games this season and making a standing start is difficult. They showed that playing against Orient and Sunderland is a totally different game.

The Premier League offers more of a physical and mental impact than playing a lower league team in the FA Cup.

People will say they are not good enough. I don't believe that for a second. But I do think they are totally different players when handed a run of games. It is all too easy to lay the blame for our performance and the result with two players. 

I thought Nasri didn't play to his full potential and neither did Bendtner. Wilshere seemed isolated in the Cesc role and there wasn't the help he needed from Denilson and Diaby because they were dealing with a five man midfield.

They way Sunderland set up for the game was not to lose. They came and achieve their aim and that's why their fans celebrated at the end like they'd won the league.

Disappointing, yes. But sometimes things like this happen. And as for the decision the referee made. Well Arsene sums it up well.




Arsenal player ratings

Szczesny - Had a good game and made a couple of very good saves - 7
Sagna - Was impressive going forward and solid at the back - 6
Djourou - Equally assured at the back. But still needs to work on his heading from set pieces - 6
Koscielny - Put plenty of effort into his game and was a treat going forward by bringing the ball out of defence. - 7
Clichy - I don't fancy being in his shoes when Arshavin and Diaby are playing in front of him. Solid at the back and offered us an outlet. - 6
Denilson - Had some nice periods of play but still lacks the muscle defensively. - 6
Diaby - Always either good or bad. Today was bad. Offered little to our game. - 6
Nasri - Had one of the quietest games I've seen him have for us. But offered a spark when we needed it. - 6
Wilshere - Playing behind the striker in the Cesc role isolated him. Still effective though. - 6
Arshavin - Creative spark and influence on our forward play. Unlucky with both decisions. - 7
Bendtner - Quiet game. Too often came short when he needed to stay long to create the space for Wilshere. - 6

Substitutes 

Chamakh - Came on, hit the bar and probably did more in his 28 minutes to win us the game than some did in 90. - 7
Rosicky - Played some nice stuff, has still got a final ball, but where is his shooting gone? - 6

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