Sunderland 1 (Gardner 48 (pen)) – 3 Arsenal (Giroud 11, Ramsey 67, 76)
Man of the Match – Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
It was not smooth sailing as Arsenal got past Sunderland 3-1, in a game that will most be remembered for the debut of Arsenal’s record signing Mesut Özil, who put on a classy performance in midfield.
The German started in midfield, with Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky both ruled out. With Per Mertesacker ill, Bacary Sagna was handed the captain’s armband and played at centre-back alongside Laurent Koscielny. With Mikel Arteta still ruled out, Mathieu Flamini was handed his first start in his second spell at the club. With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski still checked in on the injured list, Arsenal named a youthful bench, comprising Chuba Akpom, Emmanuel Frimpong, Ryo Miyachi and Serge Gnabry. Thomas Vermaelen made his return from injury and was named on the bench as well.
Arsenal were looking fluid early on, and it didn’t take long for Özil to create an impression. A long ball played from the back, was brilliantly controlled by the German, and he set it up for Olivier Giroud, to slot it past Westwood. It was the Frenchman’s 5th goal this season, and he seems to be in great nick at the moment.
Samba Diakite’s hit the bar, before Theo Walcott’s wastefulness cost Arsenal a 2-0 lead. Having been put clean through by Özil, with only Westwood to beat, the England striker only managed to draw a save.
USA international Jozy Altidore was proving to be a tricky customer with his physical presence, and he forced a rasping save from Szczesny. Theo Walcott headed in off a Wilshere cross, but it went wide. Walcott had another chance, when he was deftly set up by Giroud, but again found an inspired keeper in his way.
Sunderland bought on Craig Gardener in place of David Vaughan in the second half, and he seemed to make a whole lot of difference. He scored the equalizing penalty in the 48th minute, after Koscielny had needlessly bought down former Manchester City winger Adam Johnson in the box.
Sunderland thought they had scored, when Steven Fletcher put the ball in the back of the net, but was ruled out for offside. Then, a freekick was more cause of trouble for Arsenal as South Korean midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung headed the ball onto the post, but it rolled off onto the other side, with Ki falling over it into the net in a heap. Arsenal were looking out of sorts, when Flamini was booked for a foul on Altidore, before Adam Johnson caused more problems, taking 3 shots in succession.
Arsenal then regrouped and took the lead, when a cross from the right from Carl Jenkinson, was met with a fierce volley from Aaron Ramsey. It was a fantastic goal from the Welshman, who is in great form at the moment.
Sunderland were causing more problems for Arsenal, and should have led 2-1, when Altidore shoved off the challenge of Sagna, to slot the ball past Szczesny. The ball painfully rolled over the line, before Koscielny managed to hack it clear. The referee did not award the goal, but instead awarded a freekick at the edge of the box, a decision that infuriated Sunderland’s players, fans, and more so their manager.
Arsenal took advantage and confirmed the 3 points, with a subtle goal. Mesut Özil and Olivier Giroud helped set up Ramsey for a fine finish past Westwood. Arsene Wenger bought on Thomas Vermaelen and Nacho Monreal in place of Mesut Özil and Theo Walcott to shut out the game.
There was cause for concern, however, when Olivier Giroud hurt his knee, when taking a shot off a Ramsey pass. He has been adjudged fit for Wednesday’s clash with Marseille in the Champions League.
It was a fantastic win for Arsenal, their second away win in the Premier League, in as many games. Mesut Özil proved what a world class talent he is. Everytime he had the ball, there was this sense of anticipation, and he did not disappoint creating several chances. I can only imagine the scene of midfield slaughtery when Özil, Cazorla, Wilshere and Ramsey play.
Giroud is getting the goals for Arsenal, which is a major boost. However, we are an injury away from having no proper striker. Walcott was wasteful, while Sanogo and Akpom are inexperienced. Lukas Podolski hasn’t fared well in his tenures as a central striker.
Aaron Ramsey was at his brilliant best, and he moves up to 5 goals already for the season. Not bad for a holding midfielder. Bacary Sagna was at his reliable best at centre-back. Koscielny still needs to be told when he should go in for dangerous challenges like that. It is great to watch when he completes these challenges successfully, but not so much, when they give away a penalty.
Arsenal move to the top of the table with this win, and with Chelsea’s loss stay there. Only a Liverpool win/draw will change that. Next up, Arsenal open their Champions League account with Marseille at the Stade Velodrome.
Jai Arsenal 🙂
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————– While you are about it, follow Blazing Cannons on twitter. @blazingcannons
And do like, the Facebook page as well.
Go ahead you lazy bum, that’s all I ask of you!