Arsenal 2-1 Sunderland, Robin Van Persie sublime free kick leads the way + Players ratings

Arsenal are where we are today because of one man, Robin Van Persie. The skipper produced a majestic performance yesterday to bring Arsenal to the top 10 position in the league. Yes, that’s right, we are not longer in the relegation zone suckers! And it’s all thanks to Robin Van Persie.

Scoring 102 goals and counting.

For those who missed the match, match report can be found here, while match highlights have been kindly provided by Arsenal at Arsenal player over here. For interesting facts of the match, read statistics provided by 7amkickoff over here.

It all started well, with barely 25seconds gone before Van Persie scored the opening goal. Gervinho made a pass to the skipper at the edge of the box and Van Persie hit a shot at goal. I expected the keeper to make a save, but surprisingly, the keeper didn’t manage to even bring his hands out in time and GOAAAAAAAL! 1-0 to the Arsenal.

It was going so good, confidence was flowing, players looked as though they enjoyed their football much, and were playing with such aplomb that you wonder whether we were going to give Sunderland a routing. Van Persie could have even grabbed another goal in the 11th min, having span his marker, and making an exquisite chip over Mignolet, only to see it bound off the inside of the post and out for the ball to be cleared. Good sign, Van Persie really did looked fired up for the game.

Then it was kaboom time. A mistake by Jenkinson in the 25th minute saw him lose the ball and Sessegnon pounced onto the loose ball and was through down the right wing, Szczesny made a rash decision to come out for the ball but failed to close down Sessegnon enough. Sessegnon made a low cross into the box with the goal unguarded, but thankfully, it only managed to find its way to Song who promptly kicked it clear.

That seem to rattle the lads, as our performance changed from superb to nervy. Sunderland sensing our weakness attacked Arsenal, putting pressure on us and became dangerous. However, it took a very special free kick from Larsson to equalised for the Black Cats after Arteta handballed outside the box. Stupid freekick to give away, but really good freekick by Larsson. Pity he chose Sunderland over us, and looking at our freekicks yesterday I did say we could have used the lad’s ability.1-1 it was.

Then Szczesny came to Arsenal’s rescue again, this time beating a Lee Cattermole pointblank header away. In truth, the header was directed closely to Szczesny and Lee should have done better. But our big Pole showed he has some fast reactions in him to be able to react at point blank distance. Good save and good man!

At halftime the team went into the tunnel amid cries of boos, not so justified as the performance was still decent and it was only halftime, but fans frustration are at an all time high so it is understandable.

The second half started and Arsenal were playing with some fluency again. However, a sight all too common occurred, and that was the injury to Gibbs, which saw Santos coming on in the 50th minutes. At this rate Gibbs will never be able to play 5 consecutive games in a row. There was a flurry of freekicks as Sunderland struggled to cope with our passing and pace, but to no avail as Walcott, Arteta and Santos seems to love the target behind goal and high up.

Arshavin then came on in the place of Gervinho in the 67th minute to try and liven things up, and the Russian nearly produced the goods. A rare moment of inspiration saw our puny Russian skip past two defenders, nutmeg one and drag shot just wide of goal. More of that stuff first please, the goals can come in later.

Things were looking desperate, as the clock winded down. Then up stepped our skipper. A freekick was awarded on the left side of the box, and Van Persie stepped up to score a freekick as good as the one Larsson scored. 2-1, great goal and game on.

It was a nervy finish to the game as usual, and one moment of scare occurred when Ji Dong Won put the ball in the net, only to be ruled rightly offside. In any other day, that goal would have probably stood if the opposition had the awareness to stay onside. If you have watched the game you would have realised that no one was marking the Korean in the box at that time.

And so it ended, 2-1, a good win, and a win that would be greatly appreciated in these dark times.

After the game, Arsene spoke of the need for an improvement in our free kicks. Too true. Far too often have freekicks been kicked way over the bar, or straight at the wall. The current Arsenal side seem to lack someone who could pose as a threat at set pieces as compared to the Arsenal of old, with Henry, Pires and many more. Hopefully that would change somewhat soon considering we always get fouled outside the box. There was a time when freekicks outside the box was Henry’s favourite spot in the game.Now it’s the favourite spot for opponents who think we can’t do shit with those freekicks. Well, Van Persie showed you didn’t he!

Arsene also paid tribute to Van Persie, claiming he is the special one. I think we all felt Van Persie had the potential to be a top player, but injuries over the years have been plaguing him and not allowing him to fulfil his potential. No matter, now is your time Van Persie!

Mertesacker also commented, and said we needed to achieve at least top 4 in the league. Less talking, and more actions on the pitch would be good. Before thinking about top four, maybe more focus should be on the next game. And that should be the way it is all the way until the league has concluded.

Arshavin has gave an interview, and believe that Russia qualifying for the Euros has taken a load off his mind. Maybe that is why we could see him playing slightly better yesterday. Whatever makes our Russian’s boat flow, give him double that amount please. I still miss that Arshavin who scored 4 goals against Liverpool by himself, and surely that is the highlight of his Arsenal career so far. Real saddening considering his qualities as a player.

So that’s about it for today folks! Read on below for player ratings! A good win, and a good cheer! Bring on Marseille next! Till then.

Players Ratings – MY OPINIONS

Szczesny – He played well, except for one mistake. The defense tends to give him unnecessary pressure and causes him to make radical decisions. Still, should know better than to rush out and be caught out, leaving an unguarded goal. Made a good save from Cattermole, and could do nothing about Larsson’s goal. 6.5 / 10

Jenkinson – Still young and inexperience, showing in the mistake made which nearly conceded a goal. However, was decent defensively, and his crosses were good, despite only one being successful. Definitely one for the future if he keeps working hard and improving. 6 / 10

Gibbs – Was doing okay, making runs down the left wings but was overlooked too often. Defensively sound, but got injured yet again. 6 / 10

Koscielny –  Was composed, held his ground in challenges and defended stoutly. My only chagrin was his tendency to make foraying runs into the opponents half and box. Could be suicidal if the opponents had fast and pacey players to exploit the gap he left at the back. 6.5 / 10

Mertesacker – Frankly, I felt the big German was out of sorts yesterday. He still looks unsettled, and the understanding between him and his backline seems to be lacking at the moment. However, couldn’t find any fault with him too that said. 6.5 / 10

Arteta – Hot and cold. He has a tendency to collect the ball, dip sideways and make a short pass to someone closer. Really needs to be more imaginative if he is to excel as a playmaker. Needs to make more runs into the box, or passes that do count. Held his ground well though, and didn’t allow Arsenal midfield to be over run. 6 / 10

Alex Song – Nothing much the Cameroon did yesterday. Broke up play, and tried to initiate some attacks. However, made some poor decisions in passing and finishing moves. Could do better, but still decent. 6.5 / 10

Rosicky – Did well yesterday. Showed some pace in bursting forward and earning a freekick at the edge of the box. Had one through pass which found Van Persie. Was surprised he got taken off instead of Walcott. 7 / 10

Walcott – Aside from one blazing free kick which he got his angles all wrong for, nothing much. Couldn’t do much, as he lacks the technical skills to make passes or dribble past players. Needs to start working on his skills or he is going to be froze out soon.  Was largely anonymous in the second half, and surprised he stayed on all the way. Still, credit given for his hard work in tracking back to help Jenkinson. 5.5 / 10

Gervinho – Still trying to find his feet in the league i suppose. Made a good start, and provided Van Persie with an assist. Was lively throughout, yet he always lacked the finishing touch, and couldn’t do much thereafter. Still, dribbling is a constart threat to opponents. 6.5 / 10

Van The Man – 2 Goals, 1 great free kick. Need I say more? Oh yea, don’t understand why the hell you had to take off your shirt and get the booking for, not a good example for the team. Still, 8.5 / 10

Substitutes,

Benayoun – Came on for Rosicky rather late. He doesn’t have pace, but he makes up for it with his good first touch and guile. Able to makee the passes and crosses which Walcott lacks, and in my opinion should be ahead of Walcott in the team line up. Still, could’t do much with the little time he had. 6 / 10

Arshavin – Came on for Gerivinho and was lively. Troubled the Sunderland’s defense and if he keeps it up I am sure his performances would have some end product to show for in goals and assists. 6.5 / 10

Santos – Didn’t offer much in terms of attacking, but did his work and defended well at the back. 6.5 /10

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