Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland: Same Old Story For Wenger

Tactical Formations

What’s that saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same?”

So was the story for Arsenal fans on Saturday, as Martin O’Neill’s Sunderland squad stifled, squashed, and blocked their way to a point at the Emirates.

Everyone has been wondering how Arsenal would cope without Robin van Persie. They started in Arsene Wenger’s favored 4-2-3-1. Starting in van Persie’s familiar spot was new signing Lukas Podolski. Another newcomer, Santi Cazorla, took up in the midfield as the primary playmaker for the team.

Sunderland went with a very conservative lineup, in a 4-1-4-1 shape. They started with Stephane Sessegnon, usually a support striker, as the lone forward player, a clear indication of their intention to thwart the Gunners. Another forward, Fraizer Campbell, played out wide right opposite James McClean, one of the breakout players for the Black Cats in 2011-12. Lee Cattermole sat ahead of the defense, meant to doggedly mark Cazorla as he tried to pick up the ball behind the midfield 4 and start plays.

The match was a very clean, no disciplinary measures needed. Sunderland played a high-pressure defensive game against Arsenal, not surprising considering O’Neill’s propensity to find points against more talented teams.

With how much the Black Cats sat deep, Arsenal’s ability to enter the final third was relatively simple. It was after that entry that everything came to a halt. Runs from Cazorla, Gervinho, or Walcott were neatly knocked away by a hard-working defense. The Gunners’ chances came, but most were with a defender in the way.

The best chance for Arsenal came as time was winding down, and former Montpelier man Olivier Giroud replaced Podolski. Cazorla played the ball past Cattermole and into clear space near the penalty spot. Giroud came onto it, struck it hard with his right boot, but the ball was guided just wide to the right.

Sunderland, starting the season against a top 4 side, were looking for a draw, and that’s what they got. The Gunners continue to lack certain elements of their team. For one thing, they have guys like Andrei Arshavin who seem uninterested in playing hard for the club. The Russian had several giveaways as he came on replacing Theo Walcott. The obvious loss of van Persie is huge when it comes to goal scoring, but it may take time for these new pickups to come together. Cazorla was likely Arsenal’s Man of the Match for this fixture, finding his teammates in open positions very often.

This is the same kind of result for the Gunners, though, that we’ve often seen against pragmatic teams looking to draw. Instead of extra workrate or desperation, the frustration leads to insecurity and lack of effort oftentimes for Arsenal. The team needs leadership and someone to take control of these types of matches. Maybe Cazorla can be that type of player, but at these early stages it’s tough to tell.

For Sunderland, it’s a great point to start the season. They now head home to the Stadium of Light to face newly promoted Reading. A great effort from O’Neill’s team was rewarded on this day, and now they need to look to bring in a scoring threat up front. If they can find that type of player, perhaps they can get a top-half finish.

18 thoughts on “Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland: Same Old Story For Wenger”

    1. Nope, sorry, I forgot! But you’ll have to excuse my mistake since it looked like nearly every other match Arsenal has played against a weaker side for the last three years.

  1. The draw says MUCH more about Sunderland, playing today, than it does about Arsenal. Many reasons why Arsenal didn’t look as sharp as they could have, considering they are more or less a new team (as far as attacking goes) but Sunderland’s defense and doing all it took to prevent what, for other teams today, were simple goals is the main one. Arsenal created chances that resulted in goals for other teams.. but other teams weren’t playing Sunderland today. Simple as.

    Not a terribly bad result. Things look good and will most likely improve for the much better in the coming weeks/months.

    1. They’re called fans. They pay because they love their club, in good times and bad. Those who can’t afford to go stay home, but still support. They pay, also, because they can, and do.

  2. :)…yup it is a draw, but it put smile on my face base on how the team play today. The creative spark is there, we play way better then last season and it seems if these team play week in and week out like these it could be better then the cesc era of tiki taka. 2 new face are needed, i hope one would be sahin. Today we play a team with the England tactic, i would doubt robin could score at this situation…well can’t wait to see what happen in the next game :)…

  3. there was actually a lot of positive pointing s to take from that game.
    gervinho looks much more dangerous on the ball and he s much more sharper.
    carzola was simply the best player out there. created a lot chances, great crossings..
    gibbs also played very well.
    Jenkinson was good in patches.

    On the minus points.
    arshavin needs to be sold
    Song has been sold while we were watching the game.
    Gitoud missed a fckijng seater. Hope he s not the next chamak.

    1. I agree Gervinho appeared to have more confidence and was quite a positive. It wasn’t a terrible match for Arsenal, but at some point Wenger needs to figure out a Plan B. I know the aerial game isn’t his thing, but with Sunderland’s Oakes that deep, a forward with aerial chops would have made things less comfortable in the area for Sunderland.

  4. “A statistical look at Santi Cazorla’s unbelievable debut.

    Despite Arsenal not scoring today, Santi Cazorla was absolutely phenomenal. That’s no exaggeration. Had it not been for Sunderland keeping 10 men behind the ball at all times and Arsenal’s shaky finishing, Cazorla would have had a couple of goals and a couple of assists.

    The ever reliable ‘Who Scored’ gave Cazorla a rating of 8.3 for his debut – for a bit of perspective, David Silva and Juan Mata averaged scores of 7.5 and 7.3 last season in the Premier League. Obviously it’s hard to compare a one off to an average over the course of a season, but it’s all we have to go by at the moment.

    Cazorla is known for his attacking play, but made a defensive contribution which is well above the Premier League average. He made 3 tackles and 2 interceptions, making one foul in the process.
    Offensively Cazorla was almost flawless. He made 3 successful dribbles, had 4 shots on goal and made a phenomenal 7 key passes. No other Premier League player made more than 2 key passes today, whilst the entire Sunderland team made just 3 key passes.

    Over the course of the game Cazorla made 77 passes, with 72 of those finding a teammate, giving him passing accuracy of 93.5%. That also means around 10% of Cazorla’s completed passes were key passes.
    If you don’t like to listen to stats, simply watch the highlights of the game to see how good Cazorla was. He was absolutely everywhere. Arsenal’s best player by a long way.”

  5. Watching highlights from WBA v. Liverpool. Lukaku’s goal for example.. Such simplicity, clean.

    One does get the sense that Arsenal tries far too hard to score goals than perhaps they should.. Should come easier, RVP or not. This, of course, is naturally frustrating/upsetting. But also self-pitying, which is never a good thing.. Ah, well.

  6. Pretty weak analysis! Sunderland barely attempted to get out of their own half. A lot to like about Arsenal Cazorla was great and brought something that was not available last year. Artery was very good and I thought he linked well with Diaby. Podolski was quiet but it’s clear he needs time with this group. He and Santi ran into each others way at least 3 times. Giroud missed one chance on his weaker foot, not unforgivable.

    Result wasn’t great but there was plenty to like. It was quite a bit different than what I saw last year, when creativity was definitely missing.

  7. stupid analysis, Sunderland played with 10 men behind the ball at all times. Its hard to score with 10 men behind the ball. its not like Arsenal didn’t create chances, Giroud should have scored when Carzola put him through.

    1. 10 men behind the ball is tough to beat when you allow your narrowmindedness to prevent you from adjusting to the circumstances. Wenger made hardly a tactical change even after seeing O’Neill “park the bus.” The closest thing to a tactical change was bringing on a pure poacher in Giroud for a more converted wing/deep forward in Podolski.

      The real trouble is that they have nobody to cope with this kind of tactic. Giroud came close to breaking though. A big forward would make things interesting. Instead they have a want-away Bendtner. But all it would have taken was a lucky bounce as well, so it wasn’t all terrible!

      1. Earl is right. The reality for Arsenal is that many teams they play against, especially at the Emirates, will play ten men behind the ball, so the team needs to have a Plan B of how to get around that. Otherwise, Arsenal will be stuck with the same issues the team had last season — even despite new players.

        The Gaffer

  8. I was at the match, making my first visit to the Emirates Stadium (I live in the United States). Disappointing result, though there were some positives. Cazorla looked fantastic, and we also kept a clean sheet. There were also quite a few negatives. I’m worried Giroud could turn into the second coming of Chamakh. Also, the tempo of the passing wasn’t quite good enough, but I guess that’s to be expected in the opening match of the season.

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