Saturday, 5 December 2015

Arsenal Score Four To Win 3-1

Arsenal never believe in doing things the easy way and so it was again today against Sunderland. After failing to win their previous three games they quite simply had to win at home to the team 16th in the Premier League. They got a boost before the game started with the news City had lost at Stoke and a win would put Arsenal above them into third place at worst.

Arsene Wenger picked the team almost everybody predicted and to be fair to him he didn't have too many choices. It meant Aaron Ramsey shifted to a central role to replace the injured Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came in for the injured Alexis Sanchez. Laurent Koscielny recovered from his knock last week to take his place in the centre of the defence while Theo Walcott was on the bench after returning from his latest injury.

Arsenal weren't exactly impressive from the start and they were obviously missing the influence of both Cazorla and Alexis. Sunderland tried to hit Arsenal on the break and that tactic looked like it might just pay off for them a few times in that first half. Arsenal needed inspiration from somewhere and it was that man Mesut Ozil who produced the goods yet again.

With the game seemingly going nowhere he played a great ball for Joel Campbell behind the Sunderland defence in the 33rd minute. Campbell kept his head to slot past the advancing keeper and give Arsenal the lead before producing a dummy from his shorts to suck on in celebration. It was just what Arsenal needed and it was important for them to hold that lead until half time after dropping points in their last two games despite scoring first.

It wan't to be though as Olivier went for an inswinging near post free kick with his left foot when he should have gone with his right and put it past Petr Cech to put Sunderland back in the game. To be fair to Sunderland it was the least they deserved from a first half where they were easily Arsenal's equals. I worried at that stage that Arsenal would be unable to get the better of them in the second half just like the last two games.

As so often happens when a player scores an own goal it was Giroud who made the next significant breakthrough in the game 18 minutes into the second half. Nacho Monreal made a good break forward and passed to Aaron Ramsey who crossed for Giroud to nod home. I'm sure it was as much a relief for Giroud as it was for us fans and I just hoped we could keep the lead this time.

Walcott came on for Chamberlain just after the goal and suddenly Arsenal looked like they knew how to play football again. Ramsey probably should have increased the lead, but he missed a good chance just as he had done seconds before the first half ended. As the game wore on Sunderland had a couple of chances of their own and almost equalised with a couple of minutes to go. 

Thankfully they put a good chance over the bar and Arsenal added a third just after the game moved into added time. There was a bit of a scramble in the Sunderland area and Ramsey was on hand to stab home a messy goal from close range. The game was as good as over at that stage and with other results going in their favour they moved up to second in the table behind surprise leaders Leicester.

It was far from a good performance but the win was very important after failing to win their last three league games. Arsenal are still well in the hunt for the title despite all of the injuries and from what I could see they didn't pick up any more injuries at least. The form of Mesut Ozil continues to push the team forward and it's a dream to watch him play.

I haven't been the biggest fan of Campbell, but he took his chance well and continues to give his all for the cause. I've been critical of Giroud too, but he showed good mental strength to bounce back from his own goal to put Arsenal ahead again. We need players who can make a difference at the moment and both of them did so today at crucial times 

It was great to see Walcott back in the team and hopefully he will be available from the start on Wednesday night. Arsenal will have to play an awful lot better to get the result they need away to Olympiacos, but it's far better to be going into that game on the back of a win. It's still going to be a big ask with the quality of the players unavailable, but just maybe  today's win will make it that little bit easier. 

Next up in the league it's a trip to the team propping up the table next Sunday. Villa haven't won a game at home yet this season and it's a game Arsenal again just have to win. I hope former Arsenal player Remi Garde does well at Villa, but that can start after Arsenal have beaten them next week.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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