Soapbox: Arsenal nick it and we apologise to Mignolet

Another gem from Jake


Pete Sixsmith
has had a chance to review the two Arsenal goals and no longer attaches blame to Simon Mignolet. M Salut cannot forget his disbelief as that cross sailed across the keeper’s lines, without any attempt to move let alone catch or punch, but has not seen replays so accepts Pete’s judgement. Sorry, Simon …


It is difficult to complain about a last minute winner when, as Blackburn, QPR and Abu Dhabi Wanderers will testify, we have benefited from them ourselves. So, let’s accept that these things happen and that Arsenal scored a good goal from an iconic figure to inflict the first home defeat of MON’s reign.

A draw would have been a fair result in what was an engrossing game which highlighted the tactical nous and understanding of both managers. One, all fluent skills and players moving around, the other a pragmatist who makes players believe that they are 25 per cent better than they actually are.

Jake's vision of plenty

Martin O’Neill set our team to absorb pressure in midfield, allow Arsenal possession and then, make sure that the slick passing Gunners had nowhere to put the ball when they approached the danger areas.

It worked (almost). How many chances did Arsenal create? There was plenty of possession but not a great deal of bite. The reason for that was the phenomenal work rate of Gardner, Colback, Larsson, McClean and Campbell, who chased and harried and made sure that when Rosicky and Song pushed forward, there was nowhere for them to go.

Throw some accomplished defending from Turner and O’Shea into the mix and we never looked as if we were going to lose this game. That we did, was partly due to tiredness, partly due to a very shrewd tactical switch from Wenger and partly due to failing to attack the ball at the death.

The first half was like a chess game, with both sides testing each other, moving pawns about but failing to commit their more portable and fluid pieces. There was a reasonable shout for a penalty in the first half when the terminally clumsy Mertesacker stumbled, stuck his hand out and the ball hit it. Neil Swarbrick looked, thought and waved play on.

We have all seen them given and the thought was that had it been Turner at the other end, the Leicestershire Whistler would have probably fiddled a penalty out of it. By not giving it, he deprived us of our annual view of The Arsene Tantrum – always worth turning out for.

Click here for the Martin O’Neill ‘Team of all Talents’ mug: £9.50, post-free for UK buyers, from the Salut! Sunderland Shop

In fact Szczesny (this Arsenal team is exhausting my spell check!!) had more saves to make than Mignolet. He made one very good one and one ordinary good one from Craig Gardner and watched as O’Shea blasted a good opportunity in the general direction of the Aquatic Centre.

The 4-1-4-1 formation works as long as you have pace in the team. With Campbell and McClean wide we have it and it brought reward when Mertesacker stumbled again and McClean did exactly the right thing by putting the ball out of play, by stroking it past Szczesny.

However, the cunning Wenger got his substitutions right by sending on Ramsey, who levelled straight away and Arshavin, who took advantage of the gaps we left down the right to send over the cross that Henry scored from.

Jake keeps the Red Flag flying

Ramsey was a little fortunate with his goal what with it hitting both posts and trickling over the line, but the winner was down to Wenger realising that the withdrawal of Campbell left a gap down that side. Arshavin put two good crosses in before the killer one that gave the points to Arsenal.

Both full backs had been tremendous, marking the much vaunted Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott out of the game while McClean and Campbell did an equally impressive job in supporting them. But, as the toll of two hours in Middlesbrough began to tell, Arsenal began to push us and squeeze us.

The winning goal was a very good one. Arshavin’s cross was a gem, hanging between Mignolet and O’Shea and dropping into exactly the place that Henry wanted it. I was critical of our keeper straight after the game and, like Messrs Suarez and Dalglish, I apologise for getting it wrong. The difference between yours truly and those representatives of Liverpool FC is that I mean it.

However, the young Belgian does struggle at times, particularly with his kicking, which was reminiscent of mine up at Thompson’s Field 30+ years ago. Too many went straight into touch or straight to Metersacker or Koscielny, meaning that we had to work extra hard to get the ball back or to close down the midfield. He needs to work on this and I suspect Westwood may well get a run out on Saturday.

As I munched away on my Lamb Malayan in Darlington’s Garden Of India in the excellent company of M and Mme Salut and Mr and Mrs Horan, I considered that we are a side that is quite capable of beating those around us but just find it a tad difficult to go that extra mile against the top clubs. MON has lost three games, all against top 5 clubs and all by a single goal. With the squad of players that we have, that is an excellent achievement and one that we can build on, starting on Saturday .

And then we can start to think about getting ready to take on the Mags!!

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23 thoughts on “Soapbox: Arsenal nick it and we apologise to Mignolet”

  1. It was a penalty – end of !!

    He controlled the ball in the box with his hand – then proceeded to bounce the ball 4 times like a basketball pro .

    I hate these biased Gunners postings

    • You are welcome anytime mate….we Gunners are happy to annoy you anytime. Just sad that Mertasaker did not tear ligaments and collapse to let you score when totally undeserved……Oh shit he did didnt he!

  2. Re: Ming. The Zambian keeper would have had that cross in his hands before it even reached O’Shea. And if we had been given that pen he would have rolled it in!

  3. I takes a man to admit he is wrong or maybe not 100% right and I take my hat off to you for having the common decency to re-look at the situation. As for Gunner Pete it would be commendable if you just admitted Arsenal were slightly luckky to get a win and a draw would have been fair, RVP was in Turners pocket and your wingers were out thought. We are mature enough on this site to accept defeat and at times gracious enough to be humble when we win slight fortuitously. MON has his tactics dictated by the personnell but he showed the rest of the league how to beat Man City just look at their form since they lost at the SoL and the tactics of their oppisition, The way Arsenal play is fantastic but they have become predictable and their position is deterioating every year, CL this year seems unlikley

    • Like it mate and I will admit that if I was a Sunderland supporter I would probabl;y feel agrieved that you let one of our pensioners snatch a well deserved win. When AFc play teams that want to actually win then RVP and our wingers are formidable, but when they are faced with 8/10 men in the area they find they are ‘in peoples pockets’.Yes I agree AFC have been sliding down the heap in the past 6 years but I would respectfully ask you to look at the real reasons and not the press view. When Arsene arrived he inherited the greatest defence in Europe the fab 6…he added Viera,Petit and RVP for atotal cost of £6.5 million. He has since sold Viera & Petit for a combined £29 mill and still has RVP. Six years ago Chelski were taken over by the Ruski and he has purchased the league title afew times and the cups…add to him Manure have spent on average £40 mill per season…now we have City…In that six years Arsene has made a profit on player sales and paid out an average of £6 mill ?? Is it any wonder that this team is not in the class of the others he has made? I would go as far as to say that even with Wilshire (out since May 2011) and no fullbacks (4 injured for an average of 4 months each) Arsenal would only have just won the title and the FA cup. As for CL place, it will be hard but not impossible. Watch the run in with interest. Good health to all.

      • I admit and commend Wenger on his fiscal discipline and financial acumen he truly is a money making machine. He misses just one simple point of finance ” speculate to accumulate” Running a business is about maximising profits by minimising costs and at this Arsenal are excellent. A football club can be seen as a business and the passion of the fans and the loyalty they show week in week out can be dismissed. Is a football club judged by its profits or its trophies? Mr Wenger did not learn from his early success at Arsenal and almost refuses to play Englishmen in defence, is this because the Bould, Adams Winterburn Dixon format were in Arsense opinion given too much credit. He looks into lower European leagues ( Belguim. Switzerland etc) for defenders and has has limited success if Arsenal could defend like Sunderland did on Saturday ( and I dispute your 8 at the back theory) they would be very successful. Are Turner and Bardsley better than you have YES, apparently Wenger is interested in Richardson and O’shea has the pedigree that Arsenal fans must long for. The simply fact is defending is just as important as attacking and Arsenal don’t quite have the balance

  4. Google him Gunner Pete. Henry took his goal well, but Arshavin was the match winner. But you don’t like him do you…………………

    • No Pete I cannot stand the lazy overpaid little berk and one good pass in 18 games does not change my mind. I would swap him today for my grannyif she was guaranteed £90,000 per 10 years let alone a week. Sadly , our manager has loaned out 5/6 Uk kids who give 100% in every game but will not get a chance in the first team.

  5. Hi Pete Sixsmith..who is Dave Swarbrick? As for a goalless draw because Ramsey came on..all I can say is…HENRY he came on too and that was that! Nice to talk to you and good luck apart fro next week.

    • Neil Swarbrick was a bit of a fiddler in the first half, giving everything to Arsenal. In the second he was more even-handed. Dave? Another fiddler, GunnerPete, and the finest in folk that these shores have produced.

    • Like Mark Twain – the reports of Dave Swarbrick’s death were greatly exagerated. Of his many excellent recordings I still listen to Fairport’s “Liege and Lief” a couple of times a month.

  6. Just a small snippet from the report in the Guardian. I hadn’t seen it, and this is the first I’ve heard of it.

    “Sunderland’s manager, who must hope the Football Association does not elect to review footage of Stéphane Sessègnon’s apparent, unpunished, stamp on Mikel Arteta.”

    On the game, a really harsh result, but given how many of those last minute goals we’ve dished out, it had to happen sooner or later. I always feared 2 wins in 2 games against Arsenal was a bit much to ask for, but if we had to lose one, I’m happy for it to have been the league game.

  7. Well MacM…no disrepect to Sunderland but I cannot see any of your injured coming back and improving your team (apart from bentner apologies for that knock), but just Wilshire would make a big difference to my lot. So you nit pick over my 8-2-1 remark by saying we played a fast break away system to counter AFC passing game….sorry sunshine it dont wash….who plays a slow break away system? Basically, ONeil has proved for years that he can motivate runners like your new wonder boy to run through brick walls and it works. its not great football but it can keep you safe. As for our Chesney making the better saves..yes thats why we won because he did not stop the two going in the net and you were at home mate. Finally, one thing all Northerners have in common and its not good…none of you know the rule about handball do you….you all scream for any contact ball to hand…why? is it cheating or just lack of knowledge? When the BFG slipped and the ball flew up and hit his stationery hand ie; ball to hand…it is NOT a penalty…got it! If he moved his hand to control the ball, its a penalty OK?

    Anyway, as for the next match…..Arsene will no doubt play a much reduced first team after the Milan match because we play them again soon after and we are limited a bit with 7 TOP players out!

    If I offended you mate I apologise but dont fall out your pram..its only a game.

    • Afraid you’re showing your lack of knowledge about who we have unavailable right now, GunnerPete. I would suggest it could reasonably argued that any one from Wes Brown, Craig Gordon, Vaughan, Cattermole and Bramble would have improved our team had they been available, as MON would probably have rested one or two anyway.

      It seems you are deliberately missing my point about how we had to play against AFC. Home or away, it doesn’t matter, most teams playing Arsenal will get done if they try to play a totally open, expansive style – hence SAFC played it compact, conceding you possession and territory then passing and moving at pace when possession was recovered. Tactics 101 petal – teams intent on ‘parking the bus’ can’t do that.

      BTW, I never said a word about the penalty shout. Seen them given, seen them not given – to me it was 50/50, so no complaints from me there, so please release the bee from under your titfer 🙂

      And finally, having a debate in which someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean they’re at risk of an uncontrolled descent from their perambulator ;P

  8. You could argue that had Metersacker not stumbled/collapsed/ been shot by a sniper, it would have been a goallessdraw as Ramsey may well not have come on.
    Had the ball hit Turner on the hand in our box and a penalty not been given, Arsene would have been twirling around all over the place and lashing out at Dave Swarbrick’s little lad, Neil.
    As for Liverpool – well, there used to be a great club there but no longer. Interesting to see that The Boston Globe and The New York Times suggested that FSG needed to get their house in order, hence apologies all round. When Alex Ferguson is shown in a dignified light, that’s when you know that the other side are as wrong as wrong could be.
    Has Dalglish apologised for the tshirts at Wigan? Thought not.

  9. I love reading the sites of any opposition my team have just met. Naturally, the reports are coloured by bias…mine would be too.. But I have to point out that (A) Mertasaker did not stumble he collapsed. (B) Sunderland would not have scored in 180 minutes if he had not collapsed and (C) ‘A draw would have been a fair result’..no team playing 8-2-1 for most of the match can ever claim that they are trying to win, and this against an AFC team with 7 of its best players still out on long term injury.

    In a nutshell….Oneil is a good man motivator and it works….but unless he unearths acouple of real diamonds soon, the work rate will knacker you and you will suffer in the run in. saying that, I still love to see a great club like the Roker boys back in the top half. I am old enough to remember seeing Len Shakleton turn us inside out at Highbury and refuse to leave the North East when he had the chance. Lets hope the improvement continues !

    • Well, Gunner Pete, you lived up to your prophesy, your comments are “coloured by bias.” 😉

      Don’t know how you can say we wouldn’t have scored “…in 180 minutes if he [Mertesacker] had not ‘collapsed’ [stumbled?].” Szczesny had the better saves he had to make, and McClean still had a lot to do to finish very well.

      It always tickles me when people bang on about having all of their best players missing, as if theirs is the only club with injury problems. SAFC have probably 6 or 7 players out through injury who had previously been holding down starting spots and would likely have started against AFC, so the “our best players are out” excuse is desperate!

      Then you give us the usual inference that teams should just roll over and let Arsenal play however they want. SAFC played a fast, counter-attacking game and worked hard at stopping AFC play; yes, its high energy and probably took its toll on our players after a tough midweek at Middlesborough, but to assert that we sat back, and in effect ‘parked the bus’ is both unfair and inaccurate.

      I don’t know what colour bias is, but you sure had your crayons out, GunnerPete.

  10. Firstly, never in a million years re Mertesacker..yes it hit his hand but it was so lacking intent, it was almost laughable.

    Secondly think this comment about apologising to Mignolet is a bit harsh: “Unlike Liverpool FC I meant it.”

    Suarez may not have meant his apology, who knows, but for sure it seems quite likely Kenny Dalglish and Ian Ayre mean theirs so I don’t like your comment – we are a club facing quite enough criticism at the moment without digs like this!

    • Come on, we all know Dalglish and Suarez, and Ayre for that matter, all apologised only because they were ordered to by the Club’s owners. Dalglish’s immediate post-match comments were a truer reflection of how he really feels i.e. that LFC are the eternal victims are have been greviously wronged in this matter. However, to be fair, Evra is no saint and I suspect he just delayed presenting his hand long enough to get a reaction from Suarez, who duly obliged. Evra milked the camera too much and looked too smug afterwards, hence my suspicions were re-inforced.

  11. Pete referred to goalkeeping errors in his Sixer’s Sevens verdict but the harsher comments, ie in the preamble, were mine not his, Ken.

    So I am the one accepting a stint on the naughty step.

  12. I did feel Pete that you were very hard on Mignolet so it’s good to see you being gracious enough to admit it.I dread to think how many times over the years I’ve made glaringly bad calls.As per usual the match analysis is spot on although I do feel expecting a keeper to play a 50yd pass to feet(as I heard on Saturday)is a bit unrealistic.There are a fair number of mid-fielders who can’t do that.Simon’s kicking against Arsenal wasn’t brilliant but overall he’s had a good run and has been part of our good form.

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