Another blank week-end as Arsenal fail to score for the third consecutive league game. Following Aston Villa’s defeat at the hands of Chelsea, Arsenal failed to take advantage and spurned the opportunity to put pressure on both Chelsea and Aston Villa.
The game started with the appearance of Arshavin, every Arsenal fan expected three points and the start was promising. Arshavin picked the ball in midfield and moved the ball forward to the edge “D” where he unleashed a shot that left the goalkeeper scrambling, but it swerved away from the goal. Unsurprisingly, this was greeted with a loud cheer as the fans thought we were on our way to victory. Arshavin was industrious without being spectacular on his debut; he is still short of match fitness and needs a little longer to start to link up with his team-mates. One thing is for sure, he is not shy of shooting and had three good shots today.
We though we took the lead as van Persie ran in behind the Sunderland defence and with only the goalkeeper to beat his shot went high and wide of the goal. Arsenal pressed in the first half, but too often we over-elaborated, when a simple cross was required, we passed the ball to death.
The second half was very frustrating as we thought we had a god-given right to score when we wanted. The best chance fell to Vela, a second half substitute for Arshavin, as the ball fell to him, he steady himself but his shot went well wide. Gallas had a chance towards the end, but he too skewed his shot wide.
The game ended 0-0, and the final whistle was greeted with boos from the Arsenal fans.
There was little movement from the strikers, this was our major problem. The lack of movement meant we were too easy to mark. When there was movement, this resulted in both van Persie and Bendtner both going for the same ball. Bendtner is our target man, yet he spent too much time on the wing trying to cross the ball for others, instead of staying in the middle. Van Persie had an indifferent game, if he wants to look at the club’s ambition, ne needs to look at his performances sometimes.
Arsenal defence played well, Gallas and Toure kept Jones quiet all afternoon and were rarely troubled. Almunia had one of his best games for Arsenal, there was no indecision that has plagued him in recent weeks.
Alexandre Song, what can we say. He tackled the opponents as many times as he got in the way of Arsenal attacks. This player did not do anything today of note, he was caught out too often by simple passes, when he did get the ball he was not sure what to do. Wenger stated he is not a central midfielder, yet we persist in playing him in that position. Arsene needs a radical review of the central midfield until Cesc returns. He has two options, to play Djourou as the holding midfielder alongside Denilson, or to put Nasri in this position. Our attacks lose momentum in midfield; we need a spark, an inspiration in this position.
Whilst the lose of points was disappointing and leaves us trailing Aston Villa by 6 points, we must not give up, but our performances, in particular in front of goal need to improve, otherwise it will be Europa Cup football for us next season.