1. Sagna is not a bad centreback
“Not bad” is probably not doing him justice. What a performance, probably man of the match for me. With Vermaelen and Koscielny out we needed someone to step up at the centre of defence and it wasn’t going to be Sebastien Squillaci. The fact that he was played out of position and got his head to the ball that many times and made that many interceptions really shows his quality. We were under a lot of pressure at the end of the game and Sagna dealt with it well. He hasn’t been as consistent this season as he would like, but this performance will give him a lot of confidence.
2. Ramsey is not a back rightback
While we are on the topic of players being player out of position, Ramsey was forced into this. Jenkinson made a couple of clumsy challenges and got himself sent off, and someone had to slot into right back, and it wasn’t going to be Sagna. Ramsey came to the fore and looked very comfortable.
A lot of Arsenal fans have criticised Ramsey over the years. Its true since his injury he hasn’t been playing to his potential, but you can’t fault his effort. He runs like a workhorse and gives 100%. Its worth noting that he has hardly been played in his preferred position down the middle. It is hard to perform at your best when you aren’t even being played in the position you want.
Its funny that we have players in our squad, who are supposed to be specialist centre backs like Squillaci, or specialist fullbacks like Santos, but we have players in the squad who are able to cover even better while being played out of position.
3. Szczesny is immense
His best performance of the season. Made an excellent one on one save, and a fingertip save from a close range header, both of which could have easily gone in. Dealt with their late charge very well, was commanding with his catches and punches as he took charge of his box. Definitely contributed to the three points.
4. Cutting edge is still a problem
Sunderland were surprisingly poor. Thought they’d be a better unit at home and challenge us more. Even when we went down to 10 men, there always looked to be acres of space in midfield for us to exploit. Apart from the late charge they had in the end you wouldn’t know that we were down to 10 men. Our lack of cutting edge however, made the match an unnecessary heart attack. There were plenty of chances, 19 shots with 8 of them on target. Giroud and Cazorla in particular had easy chances to kill the game late on but didn’t. A champion team will always kill the game, it is as damaging on the scoreboard as it is psychological. Once you go ahead 2-0, the dynamic of a game changes. While we were winning 1-0 and were dominating, it was only 1-0, and so long the score stayed like that, the other team believed they could get back into it. It would have been nice to kill the game earlier, we really deserved that second goal.
In the end the plaudits must go to our goalkeeper and makeshift defenders for not allowing Sunderland to score an equaliser. We were probably one more goal away from an ideal away performance, but the signs are encouraging ahead of a crucial FA Cup tie against Blackburn on Saturday.
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