Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland: Santi-climax

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Had substitute Olivier Giroud tucked away the late chance gifted to him by a wonderful piece of creative play by fellow new signing Santi Cazorla, today’s headline would be oh so different.

As it was the opening game of the season against Sunderland turned out to be an anti-climax that will have many Arsenal fans feeling that nothing much has changed. No goals, countless chances missed and the sort of dominant-in-possession-but-blunt-in-the-final-third effort that has been the hallmark of recent barren seasons. Sometimes you can bet on Arsenal to give you exactly what you don’t want.

There were plenty of positives to take out of the game though, none more significant than the tantalising performance of new boy Cazorla. The little Spaniard (I used to refer to Cesc as ‘the little Spaniard’ so perhaps ‘the littler Spaniard’ is more appropriate) gave a teasing exhibition of his skills throughout the 90 minutes, evidenced by Arsene Wenger stating after the game that “all the chances were created by him, basically”.

And basically, they all were. The chance for Giroud was his best intervention of the game, fashioned by a sharp turn of pace and reverse pass, but there were a handful of other strong moments. One strike from range early on had the Sunderland keeper scrambling while his general touch-and-move style of play was as dangerous as it was delightful. It’s early to make conclusions but it doesn’t take a genius to realise that he’s going to be a huge player for us this season.

I was surprised with the selections made by Wenger across the front three. I had expected Giroud to start in the central position with support from Podolski on the left and one of The Brain or Walcott on the right. However Podolski got the nod in the middle, flanked by The Brain and the left and Walcott on the right. I felt at the time that it sent the wrong sort of message to Sunderland, a team that we surely knew would park the bus. It will be interesting to see what sort of shape the manager goes for as the season progresses.

Even so I thought we got a fairly decent output from the front three. Podolski did what was expected — didn’t get involved in the build-up play too much, but made some nice positions in the penalty area — while The Brain had a great game on the left, constantly taking on his defenders and executing a magnificent piece of dribbling to set up Carzola with a first-half chance. Walcott started well but faded as the game went on.

Aside from a hectic opening 10 minutes our defense was on the front foot for virtually the entire match. Regardless of the quality of the opposition Sczcesny, Vermaelen and Co. will be delighted to have kept a clean sheet while further forward Arteta and Diaby had decent games in the middle of the park. Andrey Arshavin (!) looked as fit and sharp as I have ever seen him and made something of an impact after coming off the bench while Giroud, as I mentioned earlier, should have gone home as the match winner.

It is absolutely pointless to draw conclusions based on one game but there are two things I will say. The first is that we looked a darn sight more cohesive and positive than against Newcastle in last season’s opener (also a 0-0 draw, if you remember).

The second is that regardless of the quality of the performance this unfortunately has to be viewed as two points dropped.


45 thoughts on “Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland: Santi-climax

  1. Carzola! Carzola! Carzola! that pass? This guy is so creative and he will lift us high surely and it was just offseason rustness in Giroud’s finishing of that ball but he proved his sense of positioning and movement in the box is wonderful. Arsenal isn’t doomed with the departure of rvp and song but just affected but the arrival of this Carzola guy is a game changer plus poldoski and giroud and any other 2 quality signings to be made things will be okey

  2. This summer reminds me of every summer – balancing the books and keeping to accountant (and the idiot yank) happy. Really, can anyone truly say that this club has any ambition at all ? Every season we replace quality players with lesser players until it gets to the point where we will have a team full of players like Diaby and Squillaci – I think every Arsenal fan wants change at the club – get shot of the deadwood like Wenger and Kroenke and bring people who live and breathe success – we are on the steady decline..

  3. Same old song as usual. The Gunners didn’t have goals.But they will allow easy goals for opponent teams in coming seasons.That is the reasons for Fabregas,Nasri & Van persie became as deserters.

  4. Yea Cazorla will be a great player for us..until his ambition and a big offer from a ‘bigger’ club comes in.
    I wonder how he feels right now having signed only to see the clubs best two performers last season sold?
    I would imagine hes pissed.
    The guy is a genius, left foot, right foot, vision, dead ball..everything except head the ball.
    I wonder what he makes of Squillachi, Diaby, Bendtner, Park, Chamakh, Djourou and co?? Who Wenger now wants us to believe are quality solely on the basis that he and the board want to balance the books rather than invest as we thought they had done up to Cazorlas signing….we have 10 midfielders Wenger tells us…failing to mention that half arent good enough and the others will spend months injured.
    Really, how long more do we have to suffer this crap? You cant help but have hope as a fan but Walcott will be next to leave and noone at the club has to answer for whats happening.
    Wenger says ‘ they had only one year on their contract’…but why was this Wenger? Did you not learn from Flamini who left for free? Or how about Toure, Nasri and Clichy….anyine would think it was a ploy to sell and have and have an excuse…but how do you explain Song?.?.
    Wenger doesnt want to pay these guys big wages…though he is the highest paid manager in the PL.secong in Europe only behind Mourinho, we pay the highest ticket prices in Europe but cannot invest in quality players without selling out best as a result the last five seasons, where is the logic there.
    How much of his own money has Kroenke put into the club?

  5. Not sure why I am writing this …but it really hurts when you see your favourite club not doing well…when how you behave and react to things, how you feel through out the day depends on how your club is performing.
    It was really disappointing to see our team draw against Sunderland. Honestly things look bleak for us with the strike force of Podolski and Giroud. Santi has been a good sign for us. But I honestly feel that we have made blunders in signing Giroud, who look slightly better than Chamakh.
    I fail to understand one thing, why did Mr. Wenger sold RVP to one of our fiercest competitor? Would Barca sell Messi to Real or Ronaldo go to Barca? Why didn’t Mancini want to give Adam Johnson on loan to Arsenal? Same reason. Why should I give an extra yard to my competition. For RVP, Mr. Wenger could have got a similar deal from other big clubs around the world. Now that Song is on his way out, things would be even more difficult for us.
    We immediately need two players – one wing back, Van Der Wiel looks a good bet and the other an Enforcer. Why not pitch for Essien? He still has a lot to offer to football. M’Vila could also be a good inclusion.
    But mark my words…let’s connect again after 7-8 matches, Giroud would be a big flop for us. A single footed, with a very poor body balance, poor turn who tends to play football in slow motion. I wonder what did Mr. Wenger saw in him that no other coaches around the world saw. Weren’t there cheaper options in the form of Ba or Cisse or Odemwinghe or even Bent? Players with proven premier league experience.

  6. Is it the lack of trophies that has made Arsenal players move on? I dont think so. Its the falacy of football these days, the half hearted apology to the fans as a decent reason to move. But its never about the lack of ambition, its always about the wages. Proof: why would any player playing for City now, have ever moved to City in the 1st place? If we could have competed against Chelsea + City in wages why would Cole have ever moved? Why would Clichy, Toure, Ade, Nasri have ever gone to City? We compete within our means where other teams dont need to. Go figure.

  7. We should not judge Podolski and Giroud based on thier first matches. Giroud won a trophy in France and Podolski is a World Cup winner. They still have time, lets give it to them.

  8. Well cazorla is true quality and showed glimpses of his class.I am sure there is more to come from him when he plays along Wilshere.If Diaby or Ramsey can pace their game a little bit faster ,with penetration both interms of runs and passes will make Cazorla flourish to his peaks.

    Giroud impressed a lot and expect him to become an instant hit for Arsenal , though he missed a great chance. The way he moved to that position losing two defenders is uncaught in many people’s eye , which podolski was not able to do and was out of position for most of Gervinho’s or Cazorla pass.Also before that clear chance, Giroud skied a volley by being infront of the defender supplied from a cross by Ramsey and had one more in the box to do a bit of VanPersie holding players and trying to turn towards goal.

    I will be very much excited if Arshavin stays with arsenal and arsene gives him a chance to play alongside cazorla and arteta than the much favoured Diaby and ramsey.He looks very sharp when playing in the centre as a playmaker than a winger.

    I am happy with the draw for time being and confident if wenger can find a good replacement for Song releasing Arteta upfront , will give us the cushion of breaking any barriers in attack and breaking any defence at will.

  9. i am one person. in this life. untill it comes to arsenal. put it this way-i really like vermealen. the guy is fighter, strong, brave, breath gun powder, i simply love him being over there and fighting. and i…feel sorry for him. and for sagna. and wilshere. and very few more of them for whom i think are true gunners. but rage goes other way. whenever a year is over, the guy that made that year is gonne. already no doubt, wherever we finish this year our best player will be departing. that is so pathethic.

  10. Nice piece Drew,
    Carzola is a quality signing even if no one got on the end of his passes and finished.
    Perhaps we’ll fare better against Stoke. Still,I’m a bit underwhelmed with Goonerdom in general. It would be nice to break out of the cheapskate loser mode and win something significant. By that I mean the League. But honestly, not to pick on the squad from day one how many times are we going to drop points at home to weak teams and expect to win the title?
    There is a hell of a long way to go and many things can happen. But so far we’re still doing the same thing we’ve done for the past 6 or 7 seasons.
    Dominate possession,create chaces and miss them.
    Why then do we sell our best finisher to our most sucessfull rival?
    Money,that’s why.
    It’s good to know your place as a fan. Lest one get too uppity.

  11. I think there’s quite an understandably negative reaction after the game, even if it’s a little bit over the top. The build-up to a new season is massive and when you get the feeilng that nothing’s changed (when there has been a lot of changes) and you also fail to score it’s bound to be a letdown.

    I am really excited about this team though. Statements that we are merely balancing the books is off the mark for me: we’ve made three significant signings (soon to be four when Sahin comes in) and let two players go. We may literally be balancing the books (one blog posted that we are 9 million pounds in profit after the summer) but I think it was unintentional this time around.

    RVP is quality but we had no choice and Song is replaceable. We have a stronger squad in general and once the new players bed in should have more variety. The key is getting the balance right up front and establishing a style, as I mentioned in the season preview.

    What about the positives though guys? Cazorla was immense but who else impressed?

  12. And as I’ve said in the other posts, welcome back to all the regulars (and newbies!). Great to see names like shambo, voley_gun and leftcoastgooner back in the chat.

    Do you lads have Twitter accounts?

  13. There are lots of positives from yesterday:

    1. Gervinho caused havoc on the wing.

    2. Carzola is one of the best players I’ve seen in an Arsenal jersey in a long time.

    3. Ramsey looked like he a clue at times. I hope his courageous and admirable comeback is now accompanied by finally find his form.

    4. We have started with a point and a clean sheet which is a better beginning than say, losing 2-1 to Newcastle. The joke of “Has Andres Villas-Boas been fired yet?” started circulating early and often. Hah!

    5. Given how recently this team has come together, all the ridiculous int’l friendlies last week, and the fact Sagna and Wilshere are still out, it was a point I’ll take without complaint.

    6. 0-0 is maybe not a full glass but half-full, NOT half empty.

    7. We don’t suck, and my money is on yet another big signing or two in the next week to positively banish suckiness for 2012-2013.

    On Twitter: 1 Nil to the Arsenal @MaxWayfarer

  14. Andy,
    Im not a twit-ter-er my friend but you and I are facebookfriends.
    Also I dont subscribe to or post on any other footballing blog.
    I come on this blog everyday because its the home of true Arsenal fans…true Arsenal fans from every corner of the globe…and because you have an insight and level headedness and ability to write that spills over with your love of this team everytime you post.
    I come here because you and I are from opposite sides of the world, have many different opinions yet you give a forum for diverse opinion and encourage debate

  15. Sorry I prematured posted just then.
    How embarrassing.
    Bottom line is this blog is the boss.
    Am hearing strong rumours about Sakho, Mvilla and a striker to be added but we can live

  16. Its funny how some players polarise people. Take Diaby for example. There are some fans who think he is crap and will always be crap, yet for me it was refreshing to see him start a game and see glimpses of his talent. I really hope he can put a few games together and be that box to box player that we need.

    Until Giroud and Podolski score unfortunately the media is going to play the RVP card every game. Lets hope they can bang a couple in against Stoke.

    But Cazorla looks the business. Can see him and Arteta striking up a good partnership. It was a game we should have won but its not all gloom and doom! Undefeated, clean sheet and the Spuds lost!!!

  17. We all k new from the beginning that RVP will not extend his contract with Arsenal, so why are some of you guys still lamenting about RVP departure. According to Wenger there was nothing he could do to keep him and sign a new contract with us. Those of you still lamenting I say shut up and stop complaining.

  18. Hi guys,
    Good to see the familiar ‘faces’ back. The team and the season look encouraging. With Bould in, and the new signings, things could increase the breadth of the silver lining, and actually give us hope of winning something. Time will tell. As for RvP, it’s not the first time a player is going/sold to rivals. Figo went from Barca to Real Madrid; Sol came from you know where. While it’s not ideal, these things do happen. Let’s look forward to the season with hope.

  19. Boys we were there saw it and fancy footwork is back, back comes the philosophy of entertaining the audience with scintillating passes with players playing off position. Arteta was locked away from the strikers constricting and impeding the attack. Arteta away means no passes and no leadership. Diaby did not play well, did not provide the required passes or controlled the midfield but Santi was a handful he needs to feed off Arteta and not Diaby. The midfield was a mess no one taking charge this in turn impeded the attack forcing Lukas to drop back making Gervinho to run about trying to shoot? Theo simply useless and when Ramsey came on things got even worse Ramsey was shooting at players awkward passes, bad passes not dropping back or not going into the box. However Giroud looked promising as he used his size and body to bring about confusion into box to open up the game and with time Giroud, Santi upfront and Arteta pulling the strings goals will come but the need to have A custodian in front of the back 4 is vital as Sahin is another Arteta furthermore Frimpong or Lansbury fit the bill not Diaby? Jenkinson and Gibbs are wingers not backs and they expose the back 2 often Per needs time to move around and teams like Chelsea, manure, City and Swansea will have a field day. Back 4 without Per and M’Vila /or Frimpong / or Lansbury alongside Arteta who is then flanked by Santi and Ox with Giroud and Lukas upfront will provide sufficient power to win games if 442 or 424 is applied with Santi and Ox coming in from the sides adding more bodies into the box and Arteta knocking in whatever comes out thus the siege will be relentless just like the past but wenger?

  20. We have made good signings despite loosing two starters but I can’t help thinking that there is no DM coming in. If Sahin comes in I don’t think Wenger will sign another midfielder.
    I hope I’m wrong because we are desperate for a proper DM. Stoke is next, we need someone to stand up to those thugs.

  21. Great article Andrew! I agree with what has been said I am doubtful that Wenger will bring in two more players but I think the additions of Sahin and M’Villa could provide the creativity and defensive presence we seemed to need. I thought Mertesacker looked slow and maybe that is because it is his first game back but I am not confident in his ability to defend against the likes of City and Chelsea. That being said I am also excited by some of what I saw. Cazorla was brilliant and will be for the rest of the season. Giroud and Podolski need time to gel together and I think that the Ox needs to have come on in that game instead of Arshavin.

  22. Ho ho ho Kop that RVP. If anyone saw the Everton v united game what a great performance by Fellini

  23. ManUre press conference: So, SAF, if you had RvP could you have come out winners toda…… oh, wait.

  24. Retsub he was awesome throughout bro….not sure hed suit our style though.
    Well van Purse-strings….one game in and your looking up at us already…what a great pick me up after Saturday!
    Utd have made a grave error spending so much on RvP when the centre of their team is so weak…Everton were great value for their win and were by far the better team hitting post and crossbar!

  25. @Restub – A spirited performance from Fellani. Everton might have got more and manu looks out of touch. I saw a worried face from VanPersie when he was on bench .He made his debut for manu, but with the crop of players around him like Rooney,Ashley Young,Evra,Scholes,Anderson,Wellbeck,Nani,Valencia,Berbatov etc, i don’t think he can repeat the feat he did in arsenal.Sorry for Persie the players around him are too ambitious to score than to supply him except Kagawa.As the season unfolds i guess he will be left with the choice to play behind Rooney or in bench.

    Arsene how you missed Kagawa, this guy is perfect for arsenal.

  26. @Retsub
    Yup, saw that one and enjoyed it capitally!!!
    Well, after rueing the home draw to Sunderland it looks like we’re one point to the good.
    On to Stoke City, it’s Pottery smashing time!!

  27. Fantastic result today at Goodison Park. Hats off to a spirited and inspired opener by Fellaini and co. Let’s hope they are well out of form when we play them. Newcastle United is scary this year and so might Everton be.

  28. 1 nil

    I think Newcastle will fade but Everton are interesting . They nearly always start slow and finish strong. Good luck to them I hope they do well

    Great to see RVP lose

    Am driving from Calgary to Vancouver next week. Any Canadians out there who can advise on how I can watch the Stoke game?

  29. @ Retsub — Are you moving to Vancouver permanently? I’ve heard it’s a top city. It also makes me realise that I don’t know nearly enough about you guys.

    Methinks a post giving everyone the opportunity to share a little bit about themselves would do wonders for this community.


  30. Hi Everyone

    I heard Alex Ferguson whined about the officiating in the Everton game? Note to Alex… here I am playing the world’s smallest violin playing the world’s saddest song. As for Man U…. bring ’em on. Go Gunners!!!!

  31. Andy

    Just a holiday, but you are right
    Vancouver is a great city

    A post allowing fellow gooners to introduce themselves is a good idea. Obviously information would gave to be high level and of course some people prefer to be anonymous.

    Maybe it’s worth a template with some fixed questions. Favourite Arsenal memory, fav player will normally get answers

  32. 1st game over and another underwhelming performance! Arsene thinks we played well, but we looked disjointed and unorganised. But what do you expect when the players are just getting used to playing with each other!
    The start of each new season is starting to get a familiar feeling, sell our best performing players from the previous season, to our main title rivals and buy a couple of cheap replacements! Some would argue that it was good business for AFC to sell RVP but it is the pattern that is being established that I as a long time Gunner dislike! Letting our players go to the final year of their contracts and having to sell them too cheaply or risk losing them for Nothing! Who manages the player contracts at the club and why are they still employed? How hard is it to settle player contracts in a timely fashion? Who will be next? Walcott? Will the club receive the right amount for this player? I do not think so!
    The Board are clearly not managing the club in a fit and PROPER FASHION and need to go for the future well being of this marvellous club.
    GoonerNW5 long time Arsenal Fan!

  33. Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland reality check.

    The whole season is going to be full of surprises. Liverpool and Man U found that out on the weekend. We didn’t concede and maybe should have won however the new players are just testing the water and finding out how to pass and move with each other.

    My only concern is that our sweet passing will take time and I hope we can find the grove quickly before Man C puts a 10 point gap on us at the top.

    Disappointed with Song going but that’s the way Arsenal do business I suppose. 

  34. Alex Song said today , I am paraphrasing ” I am happy to be with Barcelona this is a team of winners, I hope to be wining many trophies with them” .
    To be fair to Wenger has added some talent this year , I can’t help but think that should have been done 3 or 4 years ago …some of the world class talent we had might have stayed . They left because , they did not believe in this project , there was no direction football wise .Financially ,it was perfect.

  35. Reports are that Sahin has finally joined on loan. Anyone seen much of him and can enlighten us? I keep reading tthat he is very gifted and technical but not a DM. But the more I think about Song the less of a DM he was last season. In fact we didn’t really have one at all. Wenger’s system is based around getting and keeping possession and he has a view, rightly or wrongly, about the type of player we need. Sounds fine in theory, but the trouble is there are too many teams in the EPL where our lack of physicality and defensive discipline has caught us out. One coming up this week with Stoke away. On paper we should play those f#ckers off the park. but all it will take is one long hoof upfield for Crouch and we could be in trouble. I would like to see a player like Coquelin come in for this one to strengthen midfield, move Cazorla further upfield and keep Walcott on the bench and use his pace in the last half an houw when the gaps start to appear.
    Mind you that’s probably why I am not manager! be interesting which of Podolski or Giroud starts this weekend. Am pretty sure Gerbvinho will start as he was lively on Saturday.

  36. Good blog. I enjoyed the game against Sunderland despite the score. I was particularly impressed with our defensive performance. I thought we had a very composed game at the back unlike in previous seasons. I’m not particularly worried by our attack. C’mon guys, it was a debut for 3 of our forwards! Not just club wise, league wise as well.

    On another note, Gerv the brain was on FIRE! Had he managed a change of hair style I probably wouldn’t have recognized him. Whatever Wenger gave him before the match, give a double portion to Walcott says I! Need I say more about the artist commonly known as Arteta? Or the harry potter incarnate we call Cazorla. As long as Prince Poldi still has a sweet left peg, I know goals will come. As for Giroud, he’ll definitely adapt. He has the bulk we crave. All that’s needed is fitness and sharper turning in the box.

    All in all, a good start to the season. Bring on Stoke say I!

  37. Yup. Sahin’s finally in the bag.

    Worthy of note is the fact that he was a superb(their best) player when Dortmund won the league before he moved to magreed. He was a defensive midfielder for them. But he is a ball playing DM, not the completely defensive DM. If he plays alongside Arteta and Rosicky with Cazorla and Gervinho on the wings, it would be awesome. Walcott replaces Rosicky with Cazorla switching to the middle instead in the second half. I think we would be unstoppable.

    We’ve missed ur writing Andy. Nice to have u back.

  38. Fake internet reports all over the place. Now, Liverpool is closest to getting Sahin. It wont be unconnected with his reported salaries of 120k per week.

    Heard we’re going for Navas of Sevilla and really trying to sell Walcott. We need a good defensive midfielder, not a replacement for Walcott. Wealready have Podolski, Arshavin, Cazorla, Gervinho, the Ox, Santos for possible wing selection this season. Of all those, only Gervinho cannot play in any other position, the rest can play in atleast two positions. So, why not get us another Gilberto Silva or Roma’s Rossi? Give us a Pirlo type player please. It saddening to note that we are not actively trying to win things. We seem to want to sell at the slightest nudging.

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