For the second successive week, The Observer caught our Pete Sixsmith on his way out of an away game. He was in a lot happier mood this time, and with good reason. But as usual, we start with the opposition view …
JOSH BEDNASH, Myclubarsenal.wordpress.com
This was really disappointing, especially after United lost in the week. We had a chance to close the gap on them but Sunderland played well, harried us and gave us no space to play our football. We looked jaded and were far from our best. We missed Fábregas, Van Persie and Walcott, as well as Song. There was no creativity today and it’s so cruel that we are going to Barcelona with nowhere near our best side for the second year running. The second half today was a bit better than the first, but without Van Persie we don’t have any options up front. I prefer Chamakh to Bendtner, but it didn’t happen for him today.
Szczesny 7; Sagna 6, Djourou 6, Koscielny 6, Clichy 7; Diaby 5 (Rosicky 77 6), Denílson 6 (Chamakh 61 6); Nasri 8, Wilshere 7, Arshavin 7; Bendtner 7
PETE SIXSMITH, SalutSunderland.com
We did what Barcelona couldn’t and thwarted Arsenal by keeping a solid shape throughout and hanging on at the end. We even had our own chances. Arsenal weaved pretty patterns but if you concentrate you can stop them – and that’s what we did. Mignolet made two exceptional saves, while Henderson looked the equal of Jack Wilshere. Danny Welbeck almost scored but Arsenal’s keeper Szczesny pulled off the save of the game. So in the end it was a good day out for our loyal fans and for David Miliband, a former Arsenal fan and now Sunderland vice-chairman.
Mignolet 9; Ferdinand 8, Mensah 8, Bramble 7, Bardsley 8; Muntari 8; Sessègnon 7, Henderson 8 (Colback 87 n/a), Richardson 6, Malbranque 7 (Welbeck 68 8); Gyan 8 (Elmohamady 78 6)