Arsenal 4 (Giroud 5, 31, Rosicky 42, Koscielny 57) – 1 Sunderland (Giaccherini 81)
Man of the Match – Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)
After what has been a mixed couple of weeks for Arsenal, the Gunners went into a week’s break, with a resounding win over a dodgy Sunderland side, thereby moving a point closer to leaders Chelsea.
After the shell shock of a 5-1 loss at Liverpool, a dour 0-0 draw against Manchester United, a revengeful 2-1 win over the Scousers, and a 2-0 defeat at the hands of a powerful Bayern Munich, it was much more than vital for the team to register a win.
Arsene Wenger made several changes to an exhausted squad, that were made to chase all night long against Bayern, with the injured Kieran Gibbs, being replaced by Nacho Monreal, Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky coming in for Mathieu Flamini and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud for Mesut Ozil and Yaya Sanogo respectively.
Flamini and Chamberlain made the bench, while Ozil was given some time off football, as he attempts to recover from the penalty miss from Wednesday. Niklas Bendtner made it to the subs bench alongside ‘in-form’ Yaya Sanogo, as Thomas Vermaelen and Aaron Ramsey remain on the sidelines.
The match was preceded by the unveling of the bronze statue of club legend Dennis Bergkamp, caught in a mid-air pose, from a famous moment captured during a match against Newcastle United at St. James Park in the 2001-2002 season.
Arsenal needed just 5 minutes to open the scoring, when Jack Wilshere darted into the box and setting up Giroud to score past former Arsenal keeper Vito Mannone. It was just the start the beleaguered French striker needed after the extra marital affair that rocked his personal life recently.
Arsenal were dominant throughout zipping the ball with ease in midfield, Lukas Podolski’s sledgehammer of a shot being saved by Mannone brilliantly. Sunderland, however, were creating a few chances of their own. Wojciech Szczesny, who was sent off against Bayern, had to be alert to prevent a deflected shot off a corner from creeping in, before Laurent Koscielny was on hand to prevent a free kick from the talented Adam Johnson creating problems.
Sunderland eventually settled in defensive position, giving Arsenal little space, and making it hard for the Gunners to break them down. Rosicky had a couple of shots from distance, but none that really troubled the Black Cats. Then, a moment of stupidity from Sunderland’s defenders.
A poor back pass from Santiago Vergini, making his debut in the league, aimed at former Manchester United defender Phil Bardsley, fell kindly for Olivier Giroud, who had the easy task of slotting past Mannone. 2-0 Arsenal. Easy peasy.
Arsenal looked to rattle Sunderland from thereon. Bacary Sagna’s long range effort went wide after a deflection, while Podolski’s free-kick too deflected out. It didn’t take long though to make it 3-0. And how! Arsenal recreated the magic of the goal against Norwich earlier in the season, scored by Jack Wilshere.
Tomas Rosicky made a fine run, exchanging passes with both Cazorla and Wilshere, before being beatifully dinked by Giroud, for a subtle chip over Mannone. A beautiful team goal that will be talked for years to come. Words really ain’t enough to describe this goal.
Nacho Monreal was taken off at half-time, with some niggling problem, being replaced by Carl Jenkinson. This meant a reshuffle, with Bacary Sagna moving to left-back. Former Arsenal midfielder Sebastien Larsson came on for the visitors.
Sunderland looked a bit rejuvenated after the break, and immediately got into action. On-loan Liverpool striker Fabio Borini tested Szczesny as Arsenal retreated for a while. It was soon beyond Sunderland’s reach however, as the nervous Vergini conceded a corner. Cazorla took it, and Koscielny easily headed it home to score his first goal of the season.
Arsenal were 4-0 up, but Sunderland still were up for it, only to find an unflinching defence. Koscielny had to be worryingly substituted with Mathieu Flamini coming on in the 68th minute. Sagna moved to centre-back, Flamini went to left-back, as Arsenal’s makeshift defence looked to keep a clean sheet.
South Korean midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung forced Szczesny into making a low save. The lively Serge Gnabry replaced the sprightly Rosicky and almost made it 5-0, but slipped at the vital moment, as he looked to capitalize on a Wilshere pass.
Larsson’s free-kick went just wide, after a Jenkinson foul, before a Giroud foul finally yielded the visitors a goal. The free-kick was punched out by Szczesny, falling straight to Emmanuelle Giachierrini, who unleashed a fine shot from 30 yards. Gnabry and Wilshere worked Mannone in the closing stages, as Arsenal registered a 4-1 win.
The injuries are a matter of concern, but 3 points were vital today as the Gunners prepare for a tough trip to the land of Ogre’s, Stoke, who have already come up with a hate propaganda over the Aaron Ramsey issue, by preparing some childish acts, 67th minute onwards in that game. What a bunch of useless clowns.
The injuries, according to the manager ain’t too serious. Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Kieran Gibbs and Jack Wilshere are all expected to be back in time for the Stoke game, while Mesut Ozil too is expected to be handed a start. Thomas Vermaelen too is scheduled to make a return, while rumors state that Aaron Ramsey could be back for the short trip to Sp*rs in mid-March.
Olivier Giroud needed a performance not only for the team, the fans and the manager, but for himself. Having been kept out in the games against Liverpool and Bayern Munich, by the rookie Yaya Sanogo, he needed to again claim the trust of his fans. Coming to his stats, he has 16 goals and 8 assists this season, not a bad return at all. It keeps him on par with players such as Manchester City’s Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo, who is considered to be a revelation this season. Oh, and definitely way better than Robin van Cunty, whose boyish dream of playing for a mid table team is finally being fulfilled.
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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