SAFC (0) 1 Arsenal (1) 1: so nearly lucky, lucky Gunners

Image: addick-tedKevin

First things first: Darren Bent’s last-second equaliser was not the slightest bit flattering to Sunderland.

Arsene Wenger looked angry and inconsolable, but when he reflects honestly on the game he will know that part of the match was no freak.

Second thing to say is that when playing Arsenal, there are things you just don’t do.


* give them a freaky goal start

* miss ample chances to turn overall dominance into a lead all the same

* fail to exploit a one-man advantage

* offer them the chance, with the softest of conceded penalties (though I see Collymore and many others consider it was a Chamakh dive; I thought there was contact whatever meal the striker made of it), to put the result beyond doubt.

Sadly, that – until Bent’s moment of glory at the end – is exactly what Sunderland did.

So we ended with another good result against top-class opposition but wasted the chance to make it even better.

And if Tomas Rosicky hadn’t blasted his penalty over the bar, we would have been very glum indeed tonight.

Whatever we were expecting after Arsenal’s pulsating recent form, it was not a great first half.

But Sunderland played well and deserved to be ahead, not behind, at half time.

That it was not the spectacle many among the TV audience will have hoped for was, in part, due to Sunderland’s success in coping with the Wenger academics.

That we went in behind was entirely due to the extraordinary luck Csec Fabregas enjoyed when Ferdinand made a woefully late and lazy clearance. It rocketed off the Spanish player’s shin and flew over Mignolet’s head into the goal. Richardson had hardly helped by turning attack into defence, but his pass back still allowed plenty of time for a routine hoof from the centre back.

Sunderland pressed forward impressively for most of the half. Henderson was good in open play and desperately disappointing with his dead balls; the lack of clinical finish and punch in the final third let us down repeatedly.

Mr Wenger will not have noticed this, but there was not a heavy tackle from any Sunderland player all half. Nor will he have discerned that there were 11 Arsenal fouls recorded, to SAFC’s one.

And he certainly won’t have seen that the worst examples of foul play were committed by Wilshere, a cyncical tug when beaten, for which he was booked, and Song, for an even more cynical double foul for which he received not even a telling off (he was booked later for something else, and had the gall to complain).

For all that, I like Wenger. I’d like him even more if he were to acknowledge that his elite came up against a very good team today, and would have been very, very lucky had they won.

He was wrong to look disgusted when Song was later sent off, unless his disgust was aimed at his player for yet another crude and ruffianlike challenge, .

But what a heartening slice of late justice to ensure the final scoreline was not determined by a fluke.

Colin Randall

10 thoughts on “SAFC (0) 1 Arsenal (1) 1: so nearly lucky, lucky Gunners”

  1. A draw today was a fair result. Arsenal ooze class and their passing and movement was a joy to behold but their finishing was like ours abysmal. You need to work the goal keeper. My only gripe a minor one was again the play acting of the opposition. Surely it’s time for the officials to start booking cheats.
    Finally, Re. Finnish Hit Try opening you eyes or facing the TV when you “watch” next time I think you’ll be surprised what you see.

  2. Since when has “the referee has indicated a minimum of 4 minutes added time” become “the referee has added exactly 4 minutes?” All fans are miffed when their team concedes so late in the game but there is no reason why the ref should have blown after 94 mins and 00 seconds. Presumably he uses his stop watch facility whenever he feels time is being wasted (injuries, goal celebrations etc.) If he feels only 85 minutes and 10 seconds has been played he will indicate “a minimum of 4 minutes” though he intends to play 4 minutes and 50 seconds extra. We have had to suffer more than most the disappointment of late goals so it’s time the dice rolled our way for once.

    Last week David Moyes got into trouble for remonstrating with the ref because the whistle went on time. I didn’t see Bruce “doing a Fergie” and demanding more minutes.

  3. Finnish hit – I would suggest you watch the whole game 6 times, Song may not have touched Henderson for his initial booking, he had however spent the first 15-20 mins fouling Malbranque every time he touched the ball, and in my opinion the ref had seen enough to warrant the card. The second yellow was for a cynical piece of obstruction after he’d been nutmegged by… Malbranque. Overall I don’t think either Song or Wenger can complain too much about the red, he’d been cynical and overly physical from the first minute of the game. It feels quite good, as a Sunderland supporter, to be able to say that about an Arsenal player.

  4. Apologies to visitors who have had to wait for their comments to appear. I forgot the usual health warning:

    All comments welcome but spam epidemic – take your pick: Viagra, colon cleansing, dodgy loans, escort girls, garden fences, wrestling, weight loss – means a short delay, for moderation, for anyone posting here for the first time.

  5. Hey,

    As always, whenever on an opponent’s site, I feel the need to state my allegiance: I am an Arsenal man!

    Firstly Sunderland played well, but I also felt Arsenal lacked concentration. You definately outplayed us in the first half, and we didn’t deserve the lead. On the other hand our defence was strong and didn’t allow you to create any clear opportunities all game.

    However, the foul count is shockingly one-sided and in my eyes didn’t reflect the game. I will say it: a fairer referee and the foul counts would have been even at the end first half. Sure it could be Arsenal paranoia, or it could be the ref letting one side be more ‘physical’ than the other. (It should be clear that by physical, I’m not refering to Stoke stlye – suck it Pulis. I thought Sunderland played phyiscal the way it should be played as none of your players seemed to leave a foot in with regularity).

    Overall, the draw was deserved, but I am miffed by the manner in which it was achieved. Bent scored as we were heading into the 5th of 4 minute injury time! I didn’t know you guys had Fergie time too! Must be the Bruce’s connection! The match should have been over when we cleared the corner, but c’est la vie! 0-0 would have been a truer score-line but it’s funny how things happen!

    Good luck for the rest of the season till you visit Emirates!

    I’m convinced if you play how you played today, you’ll get something from both CHelsea and Man U

  6. I think Sunderland played very well today.

    But, however, Phil Dowd made two decisive mistakes today that made the result.

    Sending off Song for a second yellow when Song didn’t even touch the opponent was shocking. I’ve seen the replay six times.

    Allowing the equaliser after the handball in the box (it wasn’t like Henry but it was still a handball that led to the goal) was shocking. I’ve seen the replay six times.

    All in all, I think Sunderland was worthy of a draw at least. But sticking to the rules, it was a shocker from the referee to influence the game result like that.

    I hope you don’t feel that I’m hostile. Please see the replays of the moments I’ve described.

  7. I fail to understand how Sunderland can be said to have played so well if in the most important categories – shots on goal and goals – there was nothing to report at halftime, and very little to report at the final whistle. Our defense had your number and frankly you gave us this match on a platter but we weren’t sharp enough to take the three points. Can’t complain. But don’t kid yourselves. We were solid away from home.

    The goal by the way was in Fergie time – past the 94 minutes and there was nothing, absolutely nothing that would have added on those few seconds. Make of it what you will, but that’s largely why Arsene was upset. Clichy half-fouled on the clearance for the goal as well.

    Oh well, take your point.

  8. completely deserved point for sunderland, but could you not have let us get so close? it’s so painful to see this happen so consistently.

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