Arsenal Soapbox: Miliband right to turn his back on Gunners

Forget Louise Taylor, good as she is. Put the reports from the two Echos and Journal to one side. This is the essential post-match read. Pete Sixsmith looks back with relish on a grand day out, leaving us unbeaten in the Smoke after visits to Tottenham, Chelsea, Fulham and Arsenal – and brings you a David Miliband scooplet …

That’s better. Everything we didn’t do at the crumbling ruin known as Goodison Park last week, we did at the ultra-modern Ashburton Grove this week.

Last week, we were disorganised and disappointing. On Saturday, for the full 94 minutes, our players kept their shape, remained focused and took a deserved point off a team with a genuine chance of winning the League title, the Champions League and the FA Cup.

We got a break when the assistant referee put his flag up a split second too early and, wrongly, gave Arshavin offside. But who is to say that Arshavin would have scored had the flag not gone up? Mignolet pulled out of his challenge because he knew that the whistle had gone. The kind of game that the young Belgian was having suggested that he would have comfortably dispossessed the Arsenal player.

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Bent and Villa: a gross act of betrayal, or par for the course?

First things first: a great round of applause for Joan Dawson who, with typically excellent contributions from Pete Sixsmith and Jeremy Robson, not merely kept Salut! Sunderland ticking over while I’ve been swanning around Malaysia but edited the site in such accomplished fashion that she risks being given the job full-time. Secondly, did I miss anything in my absence? …

How was I to know that once my back was turned we’d gain David Miliband and lose Darren Bent? Not to mention a bitterly disappointing performance against Newcastle. Let us hope for DM’s sake that he is not being judged on early results.

News travels fast enough to ensure that I was not allowed to escape knowledge of these events. In fact, Salut! Sunderland having its sources, I knew in Penang of the Milliband appointment some time before it became public in the UK; the Bent bombshell reached me as a nasty little one-liner along the bottom of the screen on BBC World.

Flying back to the UK today, I kept a pinch of salt handy as I read Bent’s press conference bleatings, especially the bits about how brilliant our fans had been towards him and how sad he was that it had ended like this. I also read without the least enthusiasm the crop of names mooted as possible replacements.

Maybe no one in football owes a jot of loyalty to anyone else these days. Players and managers get precious little from clubs so why should they give any to the clubs? And we all try to better ourselves in life, whatever we do to earn a crust.

Read moreBent and Villa: a gross act of betrayal, or par for the course?