Good morning gooners, I hope you are fairing well on what is a very hot Sunday morning. I’m actually writing this blog on the Central Line on the way back from the game on what feels like one of the inner rings of hell – such is the heat and humidity of the London Underground, coupled with the close proximity of many other disgruntled Arsenal fans piling onto London’s premier peoples choice of travel.
All in all it’s not exactly a happy Chris that is bringing you this blog today: why should I be? I’ve just spent the hottest day of the year being frustrated by my football team for not putting an uninspiring Sunderland side to the sword.
Let’s get the platitudes dispensed with quickly first; Sunderland had a game plan that they executed perfectly: spoil the party, show no ambition, do not under any circumstances concede. In the first half McClean had a good effort saved by Scz, and a daisy-cutter of a drive from Colback was well held by the Pole. Apparently Lee Cattermole also played, but as there was no yellow cards to be seen I can neither confirm nor deny that particular rumour.
From an Arsenal perspective it seemed as though normal service had been resumed: we pressed, created most of the chances and never really allowed a pretty average Sunderland side the opportunity to cause us any problems. However, from an attacking point of view we we’d pretty blunt, as probably guessed by the 0-0 scoreline. Cazorla forced a good save from Mignolet and was also unlike to drag one shot wide from inside the box, but apart from that the first half saw chances at a premium.
If the first half was slightly disappointing, the second half was certainly a damp squib. Upon my exit from Block 5 I likened the whole day to one of those massive fireworks you get that you think will light up the sky, when in fact all they do is make a pointless ‘phutt’ at the end. In that respect we had plenty of build up, excitement and expectation, but pretty blunt at the sharp end of the pitch.
The second half saw Giroud come on for Podolski, and really should have seen the Frenchman open his account whilst put through by the excellent Cazorla. Unfortunately for us, the man blazed wide. Cue the noises from the media corner of the grounds that a certain Dutchman would have drilled the ball home. Of that I’m not so sure, as it was on Giroud’s right hand side which would have been the chocolate leg of said overseas player who no longer plies his trade at The Emirates.
All of this blogging sounds mighty doom and gloom at the moment, for that I am sorry, but such was the expectation that we thought we would be dispatching teams like Sunderland at home. The reality is that in the Premier League you can never count your chickens – just ask Liverpool and QPR – both nursing more serious wounds from this weekends actions than we are.
The reality is that this is the first game in the Premier League for a few players who have been put under pressure to perform. What I saw today was a couple of good performances from players that gives me hope for the upcoming season. Arteta was his usual lego-hair impeccable self, working from left to right, front to back, and always swirling consistent self. His almost instant on-field with Cazorla is great to see, and I can imagine those two Spaniard will be essential to success in the coming weeks and months.
Cazorla looks to be the stand out signing. Jinking past players with ease, linking the play between defence to midfield, midfield to attack and from left to right, he popped up everywhere. You could tell he was a little tired towards the end, but it’s nothing a couple more weeks will do to bring him up to the rigours of the Premier League.
Of course, this little oasis of positivity does not belie the fact that the result was very disappointing. You just have to look at the completely ineffective cameo of Arshavin as an example of how we have a long and sometimes dissappointing road to travel. But as I write I am also imagining the complete negativity that will emanate from the broadsheets and tabloids – broken cannons littering the gutter press like an episode of Sharpe. The media will tell us that a certain player would have dragged us to victory – the reality is that we will take a little bit more time for some of the new sightings to gather their stride.
But therein lies the problem with today’s Premier League, and fans and media alike, unfortunately. You simply aren’t afforded the luxury of ‘bedding in’. You’re either a success or a failure. No room for a middle ground. The reality is somewhere in between, but the trollers of the online and paper world will have you believe otherwise.
This is the first of 38 games. It is not the result we wanted, but equally, is not the end of the world. Strap yourself in gooners, we’re going for one hell of a ride.