Carzola sinks battling Cats.Despite a much improved second half display, the Lads suffered back to back defeats as they lost 1-0 at home to the Gunners.
The 3,000 Gunners who packed into the away end saw their team dominate the opening exchanges. With only 90 seconds gone, Walcott managed to wriggle past both SAFC centre backs and had a good chance to score, but he hit a tame effort which Mignolet gratefully grabbed. They managed to break through the SAFC back line again. After some good work by Giroud, Walcott found himself one on one with Mignolet. However the Belgian blocked the winger’s shot.It was Giroud who found himself with a chance to put Arsenal 1-0 up when a pass, deflected off Cattermole, who was booked early on, came his way. However, he dragged his effort just wide of the far post as the early Arsenal pressure grew.
Simon Mignolet proved why he is one of the Premier League’s best ‘keepers with an excellent save from Ramsey after half an hour. Wilshere superbly teed the ball off to Ramsey and, from the edge of the box; the Welshman put his laces through the shot, which looked destined for the top corner. However, Mignolet palmed the ball away in a super diving save.
All these chances were finally turned into one goal with a Santi Carzola strike on 35 minutes. Wilshere and Walcott teamed up to find Carzola in space on the other end of the box. The midfielder, who has been Arsene Wenger’s man main since joining the North London side, fizzed a shot into the bottom corner. The speed and height of the shot meant that Mignolet couldn’t do much.
If all these chances weren’t enough, they managed to squeeze in another just before half time. The ball bobbled around in the Sunderland box until it eventually found its way to Ramsey. Again, he was denied by the on rushing Mignolet, who was desperate not to get beaten again.
The first half, which had been played in Sunderland’s half without the Lads barely getting a touch of the ball, was nothing like the second, where the Lads came out fighting.
The first chance of many for Sunderland came to Steven Fletcher, and many would have bet that he was to score when Sessegnon put him through on goal. However, 10 yards out, his shot was sliced wide. On 62 minutes, the odds looked to be in the Lads favour. After some neat play by Sessegnon, Jenkinson, who had been booked earlier in the match, brought down the tricky Benin forward and was sent off with the Gunners having to play 28 minutes with ten men.
Graham then came on as Sunderland went two up top. The first real chance after this substitution came when Fletcher closed down Mertesacker and won the ball 20 yards out. However, Arsenal’s Polish ‘keeper spread himself well and saved the low shot.
In the dying seconds Sunderland had chances to finish the game, as did Arsenal when Theo Walcott hit the post. After a corner, Bramble headed the ball back into the danger zone and Fletcher met it with his head. Despite the power in the header, it didn’t fool Szczesny and he palmed the ball over the bar. Also, Bramble came close when his shot went just past the post. The 46,000 fans who crammed into the SoL had witnessed a great game.
Simon Mignolet, Craig Gardner, Danny Rose, John O’Shea, Titus Bramble, Lee Cattermole ©, Alfred N’Diaye, Jack Colback, Stephane Sessegnon, Adam Johnson and Steven Fletcher.
Wojech Szczesny, Carl Jenkinson, Nacho Monreal, Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Santi Carzola, Mikel Arteta ©, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud.