At the end of the game, no one would argue that Arsenal were not at our fluent best. Yet, there were chances for us to win the game. We either hit the bar or shot straight at the keeper. Yet another opposing keeper had the game of his life. Yet again, inept refereeing cost us 3 points. No matter what you think, outcomes of matches hinges on these things.
Yes, the team could’ve created much more than they did. We only woke up from our slumber with 20 minutes left on the clock. These moments can be classify as ones where champions are made or crushed. With better luck, we could’ve easily nicked all 3 points and it wouldn’t be daylight robbery.
Manchester United always gets those decisions from the officials. For them to make a big fuss in the one game that they were screwed is amazing. Imagine how Arsene Wenger feels, now that his team has been continuously screwed about. Counting the Everton home game and Newcastle away (remembering off the top of my head) and this one, it is unacceptable to drop 4 points out of it. What is the logic in deploying a Manchester born referee to officiate in Arsenal’s game when we’re the only team standing between his birthplace club and the league title. How can we believe him to be unbiased.
Anyways, back to the game. Wenger restored Wojciech Szczesny, Laurent Koscielny, Johan Djourou, Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy, Jack Wilshere, Samir Nasri and Andrey Arshavin to the starting line-up for this match. We did not start like sprinters out from their starting blocks and allowed Sunderland the chance to dictate the early part of the game. While they saw a lot of the ball, our defence stood strong.
When we finally came into the game, Nicklas Bendtner was a step too slow when trying to slid in to connect with a low Clichy cross into the box. Had he been a couple inches taller or had he been increasing his sprint threshold, we would’ve taken the lead. Our next best chance to score in the first half also fell to him. Jack Wilshere’s perfectly weighted chip found Bendtner inside the penalty box but Simon Mignolet produced a magnificent one handed save to push it out for a corner.
Wilshere was slotted in the Cesc Fabregas role but hardly saw enough of the ball in the first half to make any impact. Denilson and Abou Diaby were tasked with protecting our defence to leave Wilshere with all the playmaking duties. However, Diaby was consistently getting or making those type of runs which Wilshere is supposed to be making. It was no surprise that our improved performance in the second half happened when Denilson was replaced with Marouane Chamakh and thus putting Wilshere back in his usual position.
If Bendtner was the main threat in the first half, in the second half, it was Arshavin. Twice he was denied by poor officiating from the referee. He fluffed a chance wide when it would’ve been easier to hit the target. He was one-on-one with the keeper and had Titus Bramble chasing him from behind. But upon video, there was a clear push from Bramble at the last minute which put off Arshavin. Should have been a penalty and red card.
Later, Arshavin would also run through and rounded the keeper to score only for the linesman to overrule it for offside. Again, video evidence suggests otherwise. I don’t like to use any excuses when we don’t win. Even more so when we were not in our top form. However, the stubbornness of the governing body to include video technology into the game is really costing us more times than I care to want to remember. After all that, there were still chances for us to get the winner. Chamakh’s header thumped against the crossbar while Bendtner’s was an easy catch for Mignolet.
Given what the stakes were for this game, the draw was ultimately a very disappointing result. We’ve now handed the impetus and advantage back to United. A lot will be riding on the tonight’s clash at Anfield. As for our boys, time to move on and concentrate on that Champions League second leg encounter.