Match Review: This is what champions are made of.
After two weeks of international football, the Premier League returned today. Fans of many Premier League teams were desperately awaiting the debuts of many of their new signings; especially Arsenal fans, awaiting the debut of deadline day signing Mesut Özil.
And those Arsenal fans would not be disappointed.
Today’s match against Sunderland had ups and downs. In the first half, Arsenal were on fire, but after the break Arsenal’s tempo slowed for a while before we regained our form again at the end.
Arsenal started the day full of confidence and with the away-crowd behind them. Everyone involved was very excited to see the debut of Özil. He would come good in the 11th minute: our nr.11 controlled a long ball in the air wonderfully, touched it out in front of him, and played a fantastic ball to Giroud in front of goal. He happily fired the ball into the near post and gave Arsenal the lead: it is now four goals in four Premier League games for Giroud, and an assist for Özil on his debut.
After this goal, the whole game changed. The home crowd was essentially silenced and Arsenal began playing some of the most beautiful football they’ve played in a while. Wilshere did a wonderful job of taking on Santi’s position and drifting inside to help out the midfield. His understanding with Ramsey seemed improved, and both Aaron’s and Jack’s excellent understanding with Özil (and vice versa) was mystifying, especially because they have only trained together a very short time and they don’t even speak the same language.
Özil provided multiple chances to Theo with perfectly weighted through balls, but unfortunately Theo still is not in scoring form, however I give credit to Westwood for some fantastic saves.
We went into half time only 1-0 up, but with about 70% possession. Arsenal had dominated the first half, but perhaps this was their undoing at the start of the second half. Three minutes into the second half an overzealous Koscielny made a stupid challenge on Adam Johnson in the box. There was really no need for the tackle as he had no clear shot on goal and was on his weaker foot; however, he slid into him and the ref awarded Sunderland a penalty. Gardner rocketed the penalty into the lower left corner and Szczesney couldn’t do anything about it.
After this penalty the game changed once more. The home crowd roared and Sunderland suddenly stepped up and began dominating the game. Sunderland had numerous chances and really stepped up to the plate. However, this is where Arsenal showed that they are ready to win titles and just how important the signing of Flamini is.
I think that this game is very comparable to the Villa game: an early Giroud goal followed by a fairly soft penalty and then the crowd turns against the mighty Arsenal. In both games the ref was awful (although, the ref at Villa was worse, but let’s not discuss that). Point being, Arsenal were up against it in both games. In the Villa game Arsenal crumbled a little bit after the penalty and ended up losing, however this time Arsenal banded together. They fought through the bad part of the game and kept themselves in it.
Flamini was very critical in this; running about, clapping his hands, generally screaming and putting in tough tackles. The team banded together and fought against a Sunderland side that really wanted to win.
Arsenal finally found a breakthrough in the 67th minute. Jenkinson picked up the ball on the right flank and saw Aaron raising his hands; he swung in a low cross to the edge of the box, and Rambo venomously volleyed the ball across goal and in. The team’s reaction was fantastic and as I said before, spirit will do a lot for us this season. And getting down to business and pushing through that difficult time was all down to the team’s desire and hunger to win.
However, Sunderland did not just lie down and die. In the 70th minute Altidore broke down our right flank and all Sagna could do was grab his jersey and pull him back. This was perhaps the most controversial decision of the game and the main reason I’m not too angry with the ref, despite most decisions going Sunderland’s way. As Altidore reached the top of the box the ref blew the whistle. Sagna stopped, but Altidore played on and just managed to sneak the ball in the net after Szczesny slowed it down. The play was called back and Sunderland were given a free kick instead of the goal. Obviously, I’m happy with this and I believe it was the right decision, but I’m curious about what others think.
After this, Sunderland seemed to have the life sucked out of them. Arsenal found their groove once more and in the 76th minute Ramsey scored his second of the night. He darted in behind their defense and finished the ball right under Westwood.
Substitutions were made with Vermaelen making his return from injury and Nacho coming on for Walcott. Unfortunately, at the end Giroud seemed to twist his knee and Akpom had to come on for him. I don’t have any news on that, but I hope he’s not injured.
The game ended 3-1 to the mighty Arsenal and things are looking up: top of the league at least for tonight! Özil already seems to have gelled with the team, Giroud is on fire, it seems to be Rambo’s year, and the team looks to be a team of winners at last.
For now, I’ll leave you all with a few more questions than usual:
- Is this Arsenal team ready to win trophies?
- Is this Rambo’s year?
- What did you think of Özil’s debut?
- Can OG win the golden boot?
- How important is Flamini to this team?
- Should advantage have been played when Altidore scored?
Thanks for reading!
Written by: Dylan.
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