The surname has a familiar ring. he signs himself: ‘Sixsmith Minimus. Emirates Stadium. Entirely happy.’
Minimus equals Michael, a worthy bearer of elder brother Pete’s name. Moreover, he’s not scared of the Smoke. Off he went with Pete’s ticket, sat beforehand in the same pub our Sixer would have chosen and suffered, first hand, the same emotional roller-coaster most of us experienced at home. Here’s his report …
In my Sunderland-supporting career, I have experienced two huge disappointments: Everton relegating us in 1977 – thanks Mr Hill – and Aston Villa preventing us from being promoted in 1975.
As I sat enjoying a quiet pint in The Lamb in leafy Russell Square, I contemplated the possibility of three major disappointments in a row. This time we were up against Arsenal, Champions League and all that. The likelihood was that we were going on to the last game of the season against Chelsea and hoping that Man Utd would do us a favour.
Oh ye of little faith! What I saw last night was definitely not pretty, it was not the flowing football that all Sunderland supporters want to see, but by golly it was effective.
From the first minute, to the 95th the Gunners pressed us back in our own half, but someone had put a sign up on the 18 yard area: THEY SHALL NOT PASS!
What’s more, they didn’t. Sure they played that touch and pass football that they are famous for, but the defence held firm. The back four plus TGP were simply magnificent and when they allowed Arsenal to move into the penalty area, Cattermole, Larsson and Defoe were there to repel boarders.
I have a special word for Coates. I kept a close eye on him for the entire game and he always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. A direct replacement for Wes Brown?
Midfield did their valiant best to move the ball out of the danger areas, but it just kept coming back, only to be batted away by Pantilimon or any head that got in the way.
There were chances to sew the game up and both fell to Fletcher [I counted three – Ed]. The second opportunity in particular should have been put away but he scooped the ball wide as the goalkeeper advanced. He knew he should have scored as he placed his head in his hands.
Having said that the performance of Fletcher was 100 per cent more threatening than Connor Whickham’s in the first half. What happened to that marauding centre forward of last season? Why DOES he get knocked off the ball so often?
Now is not a time for recriminations or criticisms, let’s sit back and enjoy the last game of the season and worry about next season later. Thanks for the ticket Pete, I would not have missed this one for the world.
Ha’way the Lads!!