Monsieur Salut writes: there’s one thing that makes having an otherwise disloyal Liverpool-supporting daughter feel a little less shaming (it had something to do with John Barnes being an early crush, I suspect). Nathalie Randall does also have some affection for Sunderland, having been dragged to Roker Park, the SoL and elsewhere by her dad over the years This was her assessment of the Arsenal game – and sorry David Moyes, but collapse is what is was. Just another view, but interesting that she felt Didier Ndong was our best player (I gave him 5/10 at ESPN) …
Winless Sunderland plunged to another defeat in the Premier League, this time to high-flying Arsenal, starting started well with the passion and intense pressure that helped keep them up last season, but also showing a distinct lack of creativity and quality with often the cross or final ball.
As the minutes ticked by Arsenal gained a stronghold, playing the short, sharp, crisp passing game we have become accustomed to.
Sunderland huffed and puffed and won most 50-50 challenges in midfield but left Jermain Defoe as isolated as ever, though Wahbi Khazri did his best to drift into supporting areas.
Jordan Pickford was nervy from the start, miskicking clearances and rushing from his area on more than one occasion.
Alexis Sanchez began to exert his presence, and slowly the Sunderland defence found themselves opened up, though neither Mesut Ozil nor Alex Oxlade Chamberlain could supply the finishing touch.
However after 18 minutes, Oxlade-Chamberlain made a good run on the right, beat Duncan Watmore with ease and put a sublime cross into the box which Lamine Kone looked like he had covered before Sanchez crept in and diverted a powerful header which gave Pickford no chance.
But it wasn’t by any means a disastrous half for Sunderland who at times played some decent football, and shown commitment in the tackle, with Didier Ndong and Khazri making notable contributions.
Unfortunately Sunderland lost the experience of John O’Shea, injured just before half time and this eventually proved a turning point.
The second half began with Sunderland more promising in attack, a good surging run by Ndong ending with a cross just an inch too far for Defoe to connect with.
Arsenal were playing on the counter attack and Kone was lucky that he wasn’t penalised for a pull back on Sanchez in the penalty area [I haven’t seen replays but thought the ref was right to book the diving cheat – Dad]. Shortly afterwards, on 64 minutes, Sunderland drew level.
The impressive Ndong won the ball back in his half and sprayed the ball long for Watmore to give chase. Watmore nipped the ball past his marker and was through one on one against the onrushing Petr Cech, who clipped his heel and brought him down for an obvious penalty.
Last season Cech would have been sent off but with the new rules, he escaped with a booking.
Defoe calmly dispatched the penalty for an unlikely equaliser. But this served to spur Wenger into action and he removed the wasteful Alex Iwobi and brought on Olivier Giroud to make an immediate impact, his first touch on 70 minutes to meet Kieran Gibbs’s cross from the left wing, sweeping the ball into the net.
This seemed to sap all confidence and fight from Sunderland Within minutes, Arsenal were 4-1 up. A looping Giroud header from from a corner Giroud – which Pickford might have done better with – was followed a minute later by Sanchez delightfully poking home from close range after Gibbs had hit the post.
It was no more than Arsenal deserved but harsh on a Sunderland side who had given their all but in the end lacked real leadership or the quality to match an Arsenal team that briefly went top of the league.
Moyes has a huge job on his hands but not an awful lot he could do after losing O’Shea and couldn’t prevent the late collapse after the introduction of Giroud.
Enjoying a good season individually but was nervous and shaky with some poor distribution.
Impressive in the first half, winning most of his 50-50 battles but tired in the 2nd half with two goals coming from his side.
Looked more confident alongside O’Shea but Arsenal took the back four apart at times. Easily beaten in he air for the first goal.
A few strong tackles and clearances but unfortunate to pick up an early injury.
Van Aanholt 5:
Too slow and dithering with his final ball in attack and caught out a couple of times at the back.
Industrious in the first half but no creativity or end product.
Sunderland’s best player with some nice touches, good pasing and crucial tackles although also faded near the end. Only 22 so will improve.
Anonymous for most of the match and withdrawn on 69 minutes.
Good first half with some nice touches and high work rate but final ball let him down and faded second half.
Energetic performance typified when he won the penalty but often his touch let him down.
Fed on scraps again but showed some cute touches and a composed finish for the penalty.
Doesn’t have the same understanding with Kone as O’Shea and struggled with Sanchez and Giroud. Some nice balls out of defence.
Unfortunately, his entrance coincided with the start of Sunderland’s collapse a mere minute later and he struggled to get into the game.
GoochToo late to have any imoact
All of which compared – Ndong apart quite consistently with Dad’s ratings at ESPN: Pickford 6; Jones 6, O’Shea 5 (Djilobodji 5), Kone 5, PVA 6; Rodwell 5, Pienaar 6, Ndong 5, (Januazaj 5); Khazri 6; Watmore 5, Defoe 6. ANd just 5 for Moyes.