The Lars Word: Arsenal’s wastefulness with captains, how Wags view Sunderland’s shops

Lars Knutsen: our own Nordic Mackem

One last look at a game the mighty Untold Arsenal website* called Arsenal v Sunderbus, though you can also see what Monsieur Salut made of it at the new FC Network feature on the ESPN site A recently recruited addition to the Salut! Sunderland team, Lars Knutsen, exiled in the USA, takes encouragement from the draw, wonders whether Wenger has lost it and appeals to footballers’ wives – while somehow keeping an entirely straight face – to give the Bridges centre a chance …

The big question
on the opening day was could Sunderland, after their less than impressive pre-season, make an impression against a potentially demoralised Arsenal? The north Londoners seem to be making a habit of selling their best players, and have now moved their captain on in each of the past three seasons.

Perhaps they are preparing early for the Financial Fair Play rules, and I am sure they will do well under this regimen, but there is a pattern of high value players departing the Emirates for rival top clubs, with the fee for Robin Van Persie apparently close to £24m and Song now leaving for £15m. Or is Wenger just losing it … and with “it” his ability to motivate his stars? We can but guess how much it hurt to sell RVP to his old mate Sir Alex.

Back to the game, and personally I was relieved to see Sessegnon and Richardson in the Black Cats line-up**, after all the talk in the papers about their impending transfers to among others, Arsenal (I’m afraid MON has confirmed Richardson wants to leave – ed).

So after this game some major questions were answered – yes, we can defend, and Carlos Cuellar is a decent signing, playing well for his former boss. Importantly, our playmaker Sessegnon is fit and a threat, but needs to regain match fitness after injury.

But other major existential questions were raised. Are we Leicester? And how does one spell McClean, as in our young Irish winger? I will attempt to answer those questions in a moment, but first, the match itself.

Amid Arsenal’s domination, although in possession terms it was only 52:48, the hosts only mustered four shots on target, all of which were dealt with well by Simon Mignolet.

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McClean had the first chance of the game after four minutes, put through by Richardson, receiving well and and shooting straight at Szczesny. Less than a minute later, the new Arsenal signing Cazorla fired on goal, but Mignolet saved. The Spaniard impressed, and looks as if he will add to the team.

The first 20 minutes were pretty even in hot, sunny conditions – Arsenal probed intelligently while The Lads were looking to catch them on the break. Colback had a decent chance at the edge of the box with his left foot when set up by Sess.

In the second half the Gunners were pushing forward and shooting at will, without really troubling Mignolet. The Sunderland defence was holding firm with Cuellar and Richardson impressing. Arsene Wenger’s brow was becoming increasingly furrowed.

Aside from the action, the commentators noted that our Irish winger was sporting a shirt with his name misspelt as McLean – rather like a postage stamp with the Queen’s head missing, it could become a collector’s item.

So this game confirmed what we already knew, we are solid at the back, have a great and improving keeper, the midfield is sound and combative, but we do look a bit light upfront.

The onus was on Arsenal to score, and the game showed that overall that the Londoners had little cutting edge. Too often Sunderland’s sometimes desperate clearances fell to Arsenal midfielders, and when they teed up the forwards, they shot wide or weakly. There were some flowing moves from the home team and Cazorla set up Giroud on 81 minutes, but the Frenchman missed when it seemed easier to score.

If I were a football manager, my tactics would be like Martin O’Neill’s – do not give goals away cheaply. OK, we were under the cosh at times, but our defence and midfield showed admirable composure and determination.

Maybe Wenger had been chewing on red English cheese at half-time, but in his post-game interview he referred to the visiting team as Leicester…see the interview at: before it is taken down.

I also loved a couple of quotes from the commentator Ian Darke. About our captain “He’s a man-marker in every sense, Lee Cattermole” and a word or two from a conversation with our former boss “Roy Keane said a lot of people won’t sign for us because the wives do not like the shopping in Sunderland”.

We will find out over the next 10 days if this is still a factor. I for one like shopping in Sunderland, the stotty cakes and Double Maxim are still great. Match verdict: justified optimism now for the coming season.

* Didn’t want to clutter the introduction with links but if you’d like to see what kind of site reaches top position in the Soccerlinks hitlist (we were chuffed enough to reach seventh last week), click on

** Line-ups:

Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Diaby, Arteta, Cazorla, Walcott, Gervinho, Podolski. Subs: Mannone, Andre Santos, Giroud, Ramsey, Djourou, Coquelin, Arshavin

Mignolet, Gardner, Cuellar, O’Shea, Richardson, Larsson, Colback, Cattermole, McClean, Sessegnon, Campbell. Subs: Westwood, Wickham, Kilgallon, Meyler, Bramble, Saha, Elmohamady

6 thoughts on “The Lars Word: Arsenal’s wastefulness with captains, how Wags view Sunderland’s shops”

  1. MONs introduction to Le Professeur was via Leicester City and most of their meetings were within that format so please forgive our manager the embarrassing slip of the tongue. It’s a bit like calling your mates new girlfriend by the name of his ex-wife’s. I am sure no insult was intended to Sunderland and if I could I would apologise on his behalf. Asking whether AW has lost it is speculating for a sensational story. Players that have left in recent seasons, with the exception of Fabregas, have either been passed their prime (thus good business to move them on) or have been lured by huge piles of filthy lucre. The stumbling block preventing RVP from signing a new contract was his demand for £10m signing on fee and £200k pw. Something Arsenal would never agree to. It is a very poor state of affairs not only for Arsenal but for our sport in general. What it does do is expose the odious character of certain players where cash means everything. The fact that both Man City and Chelski would probably have struggled to have won their titles without poaching players using un-earned cash must lessen the joy of lifting the trophies.
    With regards to your game plan at the weekend, as I have previously stated on this blog, was perfectly legitimate. Your defence was well organised and resolute. The plan was to play to your strengths and get a hard earned draw which is exactly what you achieved. Any asking of are we (Arsenal) losing it because we could not break you down is a disservice to the great defending carried out by Sunderland on Saturday. Please do us the same favour when you play Spurs

  2. is that ad for the ‘dating’ of local Wearside beauties real? If so, it’s the most interesting aspect of this blog, Lars.

    I trust the Black Cats will show equivalent resolution and organisation come the visits to Qatari Manchester, Glazers’ United (in debt), the Russian’s Plaything in Fulham, and Seven Sisters Future Remand Centre Site. Point well-earned, nonetheless, for both teams.

    • This is all so rich coming from the inventors of boring football. It has been said here over and again that MON did what he could with the resources at his disposal. Our strike force ahead of Saha’s arrival, and before Fletcher or whoever else comes in, managed all of four goals between them last season. We don’t even have Bendtner, and his oh-so-Arsenal attitude, any more. Yes, we could have gone to the Emirates and played nice, open, attractive football – and with the gaps in our line-up been beaten 4-0. Sorry for failing to play to your script.

      Once at full strength,, we will be able to do what we did to you at the SoL (cup match) last season, to Chelsea away two seasons agon and at Man Cty last season (3-3 was a steal for them).

      • SS, perhaps you misunderstood the magnanimity, through rigidd fingers admittedly, of my post yesterday.

        I simply wondered whether the ‘Cats would apply the same calibre of defensive discipline when visitng other grounds?

        Not sure what you mean about Bendtner’s ‘oh-so-Arsenal attitude’, because we’ve traditionally shipped out trouble-making, latent drunkard vandals; e.g. Pennant, who to a man give licence to their baser notions when outside the strictures of COlney.

        I hope you are correct in citing o’neill’s paucity of squad resources for informing your strategy; if i’d travelled all the way up to Roker PArk 2 to watch ARsenal put in a performance like the’Cats did last SAt, i’d be miffed.

        Nonetheless, I agree with LL below; querying whether Arsene has lost it, is sensationalist. I guess you need to attract hits to warrant your advertisers’ ongoing patronage. By the way, is that dating site genuine? You never answered my question.

        You forgot also to mention the away win we chalked up before the FA Cup match last year; nothing like a bit of revisionism to add weight to playground boasting. Stillm I acknowledge the irony present in relying on old Tel to bag the winner.

        hopefully O’Neill will ride out the pressure brought on by the success you foresee for SUnderland this season, which will be a first given the expectations he shouldered when he was at the helm of the VIlla and CEltic.

      • Guppa: you implied that Lars’s report was uninteresting so I was redressing the balance and having a go at yours and the earlier Gooner post. We’ve had three or four pieces here about the game, plus another from me at the ESPN FC Network blogs, and all pretty much accept the reality of what happened on Saturday, and it is annoying when people don’t recognise that as well as being partisan, we’re honest.

        I, too, hope we will play with ambition in more games than not and I do believe that is MON’s plan should he be able to assemble the right team.

        The Bendtner reference was slightly mischievous. He comes across as man who, as someone – Malcolm? – put it here a while back, is rather better than his detractors claim but nowhere near as good as he thinks. If you assure me that excessive self-belief is not and never has been an Arsenal trait, I happily withdraw.

  3. i just wish all teams could play like sunderland then i could give up watching football and do something more productive

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