103 Comments

Arsenal Versus Sunderland: Something To Hope For

After a gruelling November, writing every day until I’d hit 80,000 words, I’ve not really had the stomach to pound the keyboard since opening the first window of my vegan chocolate advent calendar last Tuesday. I still have a couple of chapters in which to bang the final few nails into the coffin of my misbegotten, ill fated central character but the thrill at sitting down and spooling a blank sheet of foolscap into the trusty Remington has all but left me.

You may readily imagine my horrified reaction therefore to waking up and discovering that not only is it Saturday but my team is in action today and I am expected to find a few hundred of the old mots justes for the entertainment and delectation of the blog hungry hordes of Positively Arsenal. The problem is not only are my index fingers sore and my Tippex supplies running dangerously low but apart from writing the other thing I’ve steered well clear of lately is bloody football.

We have, after a great start, stumbled in the league. It’s no big secret and I hardly need tell anyone not recently arrived from Betelgeuse. We all know the reason and I’m sure those of you with a greater appetite for dissection of the bleeding obvious have been over and over and over every possible nuanced nook and rooted through each over rooted cranny where our injuries are concerned. I shall not add to such a tedious and sterile debate as worthless and pointless as it is other than to say that it just makes me sad.

I try to enjoy following my team. I wish with all my heart that our manager might get some reward for all he has done for the club and I begin each campaign full of optimism and hope. Then every single season we suffer the worst possible rotten bad luck with injuries and fall behind the leaders. It sucks the fun out of the thing as it ceases to be a contest in any meaningful way. One is left with watching a handful of knackered first teamers augmented by understudies and often understudies to the understudies going through a Sisyphusian nightmare when they ought to be strolling to glory gaining in confidence with every victory and filling their supporters with joy.

How the few remaining fit players find the will to go on when it’s such hard work just to sit and watch them on the telly I do not know. It is a testament to both their professionalism and the manager’s motivational expertise I suppose, but as I watch them standing hands on hips while another two and sometimes three team mates limp out of the fray for an unknown length of time I wonder how much longer they can keep their spirits up.

A gloomy state of affairs I hear you cry. Even the most resolutely positive among us are starting to feel that the whole journey is a bit of an uphill one, and who could possibly blame us? However there is a whiff of something different this season. A tiny crack in the darkness through which the weak and febrile light of hope may just still give off a small glimmer. Despite a disappointing run of results with points dropped left, right and centre the league tells a story unusual and, in light of recent seasons, perhaps a little encouraging.

Before going further I must apologise for even mentioning the table so early in the quest. As those of you familiar with my funny ways will be all too well aware I don’t pay the league table no nevermind this side of New Years Day. Some like to get all excited after a few weeks have passed, others pore over the relative standings and goal differences virtually from the moment the first ball is kicked, while those more seriously deranged fans like to play fantasy league table from the day the fixtures are published. You hear it all the time, “We’ve got West Brom and Norwich and Sunlan so that’s a guaranteed nine points which with the others dropping on average 1.6 points over the coming weeks should see us seven points clear by the first week in December.” that kind of lamp oil makes me fear for the well being of these people. I suppose it’s all harmless fun really but I swing the other way dear.

I prefer there to be a good chunk of the season done before I get interested in the table, when there’s more to get my teeth into so to speak. I’m making an exception today because despite a November horribilis we have somehow contrived still be very much in touch with the leaders and some might say fairly well placed. I know those with a tendency to self harm will say we’ve blown a golden opportunity to establish a lead over our rivals what with them all dropping points like a one armed juggler with crabs. I prefer to say they’ve failed to capitalise on our poor results and as such have left us with a slender lifeline. Whether it breaks under the strain or not remains to be seen but as Joseph Addison said (or at least is purported to have said) there are three grand essentials to happiness in this life, “something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”

What of our opponents today? According to the form guide Sunderland are only three places below us so this ought to be another tight, close encounter. They sit ninth in the table based on the most recent six matches with a real half and half, Jekyll and Hyde run of results. They’ve lost three and won three whereas our results are more mixed having won three, drawn two and lost one.

Sam Allardyce was playing down his sides chances in advance of today’s fixture trotting out some historical nuggets such as when Sunderland last beat Arsenal in London he and most of his coaching staff were still in short trousers. He also pointed to the Black Cat’s hard fought draw last time they travelled south to play us and it will be no surprise if we see a similar tight, organised defensive display from them today.

If that is the case then we can expect to hear and read much muttering from our fans. My Arsenal Twitter Bingo card will have ‘We need to move the ball faster’ scratched through very early in the game I’m sure. I just hope we at Positively Arsenal have a little bit more wit than to trot out such clichéd gibberish. When teams pack the defence and have their midfield sit deep you simply will not see lightning fast football. That kind of speedy interchange comes about when we counter attack. So obviously we need the opposition to be attacking for that to happen. Teams aren’t well organised at the back because our build up is too slow, our build up is necessarily cautious precisely because of their defensive organisation.

In games like that we need to be hugely patient and keep possession. Working the opposition, pulling them wide, switching the ball to the other flank, taking it back into defence rather than pissing away possession with hopeless high balls into a crowded area. We need to tire them out, wear them down and then exploit the gaps as they appear. If the first goal comes early enough then we can look to control the game, draw them out in search of an equaliser and counter. Of course, given that these are eleven premier league footballers and not a collection of shop mannequins we’ll be facing it is just possible that in this stage of the game they might actually succeed and score their equaliser. This is not unusual in football, trust me, it happens a lot. If so we need to start over and build the pressure again. Calmly and patiently.

A few years ago the popular stick with which Arsenal was beaten was that the players lacked maturity. They would go chasing a game even when they were ahead and leave themselves vulnerable. Nowadays it seems the fans are even more venomous if the players attempt to play with control and professionalism after going ahead. The popular opinion now is that we should put the opposition to the sword. Never mind a second goal we ought to be chasing a third a fourth. People piss and moan and wonder why we let the other team back into the game as if we just walked off the pitch after scoring and left them written directions and an invitation to a party in our goal. It shows a lamentable lack of appreciation for what the players are trying to achieve and is so inconsistent that I just feel we’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t.

Here’s an idea. Give the other team credit when they manage to score rather than blaming your own. Try to stay positive, and if it all gets too much scream into a pillow rather than trying to infect everyone else around you by a public show of dejection. I’m not trying to tell anyone how to live their lives, these are just suggestion to perhaps help spread a little happiness and limit the dispersal of despair.

We all know that the Arsenal team trying to stay in touch at the top today is not the one we would choose given even a half way decent run of luck with injuries but it is what it is and the result will be the same whether we grin and bear it or wail and gnash our teeth. Let’s all try to hang on through the difficult days, there may still be salvation on the road ahead.

About steww

bass guitar, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

103 comments on “Arsenal Versus Sunderland: Something To Hope For

  1. Despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth all week our boys showed we have enough quality to sustain our challenge. Earlier in the week I predicted that, as he has done after every bad run, Arsene will galvanize his squad no matter the injuries. That in game tactical switch between Campbell and Chamberlain was a master stroke. As for the WOBs and doomers once again they snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. 1 point above City with same goal difference. So a 2-0 win against them would be the business. Good to see Theo run on the pitch again. He and Ox and Aaron will still need time to get their true match fitness back. Aaron was good today (but not as good as eddy thinks). And I have no complaints about the defence. I didn’t see OG’s o.g. ‘cos my stream went down but you can’t blame the defence for that.
    Joel is looking like a useful squad member – he’s deceptively quick, intelligent and works hard. Mesut is my MotM (again) – he also gets through a shitload of work and he’s always finding space and wanting the ball.
    Strength in depth, my friends.
    By the way, does Chambers get an assist for Aaron’s goal? Just asking like.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh – and a truly classy goal from Olivier at the right end.

    Like

  4. That was nice for a change. Two points off the top and we leaped over the Mancs.

    Shaqiri made De Bruyne look like a rich man’s Adam Johnson.

    Good start to the weekend, fuck yeah!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. good to see the Ramsey – Giroud partnership bloom again

    Man City 15pts from first 5 games, 14pts from the last 10 games, they don’t make invincibles like they used to.

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  6. that was really really important win. with the devil doing his best to interupt our season and the world and his wife being against us, we have seen lady luck drive off over the horizon. so at half time when we again manage to do the oppositions job for them things did not look good. it meant the wasp chewing bulldog that is fat sam only had to amass his spoilers for 45 minutes and that meant that second half performance was massive. Anitmated Arsene even when we were 2-1 up showed the tension and concentration needed and sunderland did have their chances. Sometimes in a season its the lesser credited players in the games which are not given top billing that actually make the season and this could be it.
    At the final whistle I see Joal Campbell’s bollocks in the centre of the pitch after he had run them off some time earlier MOTM for me.

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  7. Eddy – Remarkable eh how Ozil-Giroud and Ramsey-Giroud works. But not Alexis-Giroud. Real head scratcher.

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  8. Alexis holds on to and runs with the ball too much for him to utilize Giroud’s game. Ozil, Ramsey both use big olly. Ox has the same problem too, and that is why you don’t see him with much of a link up with Olly.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Giroud is now our top scorer for the season so far, BPL games 9+6, goals 8, overall games 14+7 goals 10

    and that don’t include own goals.

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  10. after 15 games Arsenal have the 3rd best stats for goals scored and goals conceded and equal best goal difference

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  11. Yet Eddy we have keyboard experts slagging him as not good enough. Play to his strengths and you get consistently get goals from Giroud.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. ah the keyboard warriors, I seen some of them today slagging off both Giroud and Ramsey, even after the game. it seems some decided long ago that these two guys are shite, and not matter what happens, they will stick to that decision. I do wonder if these keyboard warriors actually do this with their everyday lives and continue to hold views or take actions that have been proven to be wrong or detrimental to themselves.

    afcstuff ‏@afcstuff 42m42 minutes ago
    Most goals under Arsène Wenger:

    Henry 228
    Van Persie 132
    Bergkamp 102
    Pires 84
    Walcott 80
    Ljungberg 72
    Giroud 68

    Like

  13. that goal today from Giroud was as good a headed goal as I’ve seen from anyone all season.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Giroud’s next BPL goal will be his 50th. He has played 90+22 BPL games for AFC

    But because he is not lightening fast he will remain a shite player as far as the unwashed masses are concerned, FM has a sin to answer for, as it has led to a whole generation of fans thinking they know the game.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Competent performance against difficult and well organised opponents – we were patient and when the rare chance came tucked it away efficiently – very much the result and the sort of performance I was hoping for.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. one of the tell tale signs revealing the WOB today is that they have by and large made Cech man of the match, and you also see comments from them like Sunderland deserved more from the game. What utter hypocrites

    Liked by 1 person

  17. plus the WOB moaned their balls loose over the fact that Wenger bought Cech….

    Like

  18. AFCPressWatch™ ‏@AFCPressWatch 10m10 minutes ago
    Wow! Flamini completed 104 of 108 attempted passes with 25 of 26 coming in the final third and made 12 ball recoveries. #AFCvSFC #Arsenal

    AFCPressWatch™ ‏@AFCPressWatch 28m28 minutes ago
    Monreal with 11 recoveries & 4 from 4 tackling completion ratio. He made 82 passes – 77 completed – & joint-most interceptions (5) vs #SAFC

    AFCPressWatch™ ‏@AFCPressWatch 36m36 minutes ago
    Aaron Ramsey recovers the most ball (15) & completed 114 of 124 attempted PASSES against Sunderland, 39 of 57 completed in final third. Pass Master: Frankly! That’s Santi Cazorla zone and simply incredible from Aaron Ramsey #AFC

    Like

  19. Man Utd have had four 0-0 in last six home games

    HT: CFC 0-0 AFCB

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  20. At times we were a bit shaky and nervous and the own goal was a real downer. All credit to them for picking themselves up so quickly and it was excellent to see Ramsey finally force one over the line. The young man next to me kept up a constant stream of abuse directed towards Campbell which struck me as strange as I had him down as a very bright star. Ozil is ridiculous.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Héctor Bellerín FC ‏@BeltransMole23 2h2 hours ago
    oh, and that’s 114 completed passes from Aaron. But we can’t build with him in central midfield, you said.

    Who’d have thought that Ramsey just might be able to do a job in CM, its almost like he is a top quality midfielder

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Ah, what a Saturday morning. An inspiring blog from Stew and a scrappy win from the team. Plus a goal and an assist from my boy Aaron from the middle of the park where I love to see him play. (Sorry, Shotts). Play was brilliant in spots, sloppy in others, which shouldn’t be surprising when you’re playing with a completely different front six. Our style of play requires ESP between players, and it takes awhile to get that back. Ozil/Ramsey/Monreal was fun to watch, and I saw flashes of the Ramsey/Walcott psychic link. This was very important to get us confidence for the big midweek game. Well done to the boys!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. WENGER ON THE WIN, INJURIES AND NERVES

    Arsène Wenger spoke to the media after Arsenal’s 3-1 win against Sudnerland on Saturday. This is what he said:

    on confidence after the win…
    It was a very important game for us tonight because we came out of three disappointing results. We had lost only one game but I think it was a very, very important game for us today, psychology, for the fact we had not won, for the fact we had lost important players in our side and we had to show that we can win. We were edgy and nervy in the first half against a very organised team who were dangerous on the counter-attac,k but in the second half I think we have shown mental strength and desire in our game and more fluency as well. All was not perfect of course but the team have shown mental strength after a goal before half-time. We still managed to win the game in the second half.

    on what he thought at half-time…
    I thought it was important to keep our nerves at first. They were dangerous with Fletcher and Watmore, and their full backs could have exposed us, so it was important not to concede the second goal and I believe it was also important to get behind their midfield, behind Ola Toivonen and M’Vila and to find space in between their centre backs.

    on Sunderland’s free-kick…
    I was more nervous today as I knew it was a very important game to our season today. I felt Sunderland would be very good on the day on the counter-attack and at free-kicks. We played to not give many free-kicks away while they played to get free-kicks so they did that well.

    on if he was unhappy they got the free-kick…
    Yes. But I have been told since I was wrong.

    on whether Arsenal have any new injuries…
    No.

    Copyright 2015 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20151205/wenger-on-the-win-injuries-and-nerves?#ZuD7pAbeylf8XtsG.99

    Like

  24. Alabama – I love when Ramsey plays in the middle but I prefer Santi. I am like Solomon trying to split the baby. How did I do?

    Liked by 1 person

  25. BTW: Where on twitter does Eddy see all these WOBs? Very few pop up on my timeline but I am very selective. I don’t suffer fools gladly.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I’ve told you before its not mostly on twitter, its on Arsenal blogs, of all kinds, I like to visit many Arsenal blogs, I only post on a few. I don’t bother with the non stop negative ones like Le Grove and Arsenal Times or the laughable Arsenal Truth(which only actually posts when AFC have a bad result). along with Positively Arsenal, the one I most like is Arseblog. But sadly there are so few good Arsenal blogs out there that have not been invested by the AAA

    Like

  27. all chelsea the second half v AFCB, but its 1-0 to Bournmouth. And to cap it all, the goal may have been offside. About 10 minutes to go, I don’t want to get my hopes up just yet.

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  28. My weekend just improved considerably….

    Liked by 1 person

  29. 15 games in and CFC are 15 pts off AFC, and 14 off top 4. they have now lost 8 of 15 BPL games this season.
    Oh and they are only 3 pts off relegation places

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  30. I wonder if it will be enough to get Josie the boot?

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  31. Samuel Ruback ‏@samuelruback 2h2 hours ago
    I’ll take Ramsey’s risk taking over Cazorla’s nice on the eye conservatism every time

    Like

  32. need to see CFC go out of the CL, please God it will happen this coming week.

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  33. FK² ‏@fkhanage 5m5 minutes ago
    Chelsea starting eleven cost £213m & their substitutes a further £73.5m. Bournemouth side assembled for £1.7m. You have to love football.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Santi Cazorla ‏@19SCazorla 29m29 minutes ago
    Hi Everyone! I’m sad I’m not on the pitch, but I’ll come back stronger. Thanks for your support. See you soon! @Arsenal #getstronger

    Like

  35. Hilarious, a very bad day for the WOBbles, just look at what has just happened to their team and manager of choice!
    And the media so loved telling us about Chelsea’s revival

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Hear, Hear Mandy. Chelsea 41th and 3 points from relegation zone. I spell that “Specialist In Failure.”

    Like

  37. Interesting game today. I think most have already said what needs to be said. Some definite ring-rustiness from our returning players and a nervous, afraid to lose air about the start, but they got the job done in the end. I was pleased for the 3 goal-scorers who all needed that injection of confidence. Giroud was noticeably more energetic and involved after that goal whereas he seemed tentative and lacking in self-belief beforehand.

    I’m definitely going with magical Mesut as MoTM today with honourable mentions for Campbell and Koscielny.

    Liked by 3 people

  38. @Shotta, pretty good, but I still think you suspect me as the secret leader of the Cult of Ramsey in the Middle.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Premier LeagueVerified account
    ‏@premierleague
    Jose Mourinho: “If our objective is to fight for the top 4, maybe now it’s to fight for the top six.” #CHEBOU

    Like

  40. the AAA say Ramsey runs forward too much,

    Wenger says AFC needed to get behind the sunderland central midfielder more in the second half,
    Ramsey makes those runs in behind them, an assist, followed by a goal,

    yet the AAA still say Ramsey runs forward too much.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. A very good win for the Arsenal.

    In November 2005, Sam Allardyce was quoted as saying:

    “I was the first to bring 4-5-1 into this country. I will blow my own trumpet and admit it. I know where it has got Bolton. We are rewriting history by playing in Europe for the first time. We play attacking football when we need to. We play short, passing football when we need to. We play long when we need to. We try and score as many goals as we can, given that we don’t have Thierry Henry or Ruud van Nistelrooy. We do, though, have a great bunch of players.”.

    and in September, 2010,

    : “Arsène has most of the media in his pocket now and is almost – almost – affecting the officials so that you can’t tackle an Arsenal player. That’s something he’s very clever at working on and it’s almost working in his favour, you can see that.
    “Read his interview before the Stoke City v Aston Villa match, what he said and how he said it – he’s a very, very clever man in terms of influencing referees, officials and everybody in football. He can’t be brought up for it because it’s about another match – rather than just before he plays us.”.

    It is a necessary pre-game question, who is the manager and who are the match officials!

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Ciaran ‏@ciaranoconnell9 14m14 minutes ago
    Considering how Arsenal lost 10 games in 11/12, the season where Cesc/Nasri left, 8-2, etc., for Chelsea to lose 8 by early Dec is stunning

    Like

  43. Eddy
    fuck the opinions of people who aren’t contributors to PA.
    Odds are – they are arseholes.

    Absorb the comments of or our wisest posters – the path to true enlightenment will become shorter.

    Liked by 3 people

  44. Gary Monk played for Swansea for ten years, having been signed on a free transfer having been released by Torquay (?)

    Was with the club during their rise from 4th division ( our younger readers may need to google that)

    And eventually took over as manager, after which he kept em up from a poor start in his first season, then oversaw their best ever finish in the PL last year, despite the sale of his main goalscorer in January

    Now I appreciate Monk is having a sticky time

    But what I don’t follow is the gleeful contempt of the man

    Sort yourself out

    Liked by 3 people

  45. Just watched on MOTD Stoke play the most anti-Stoke game of all time.

    Ti’s the End Times, i tell yey’s.
    I’m retreating to my by fallout shelter.

    Liked by 2 people

  46. I watched parts of the Stoke Citeh game not all of it – the home side well worth their win and 4-0 could have been easy

    No mental strength Citeh – weak all over the pitch

    Like

  47. City have excuses – 2 or 3 key players are injured.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. spot on DC, I know this to be the case as I was lucky enough to listen to the second half of the Stoke v Man city game on BBC Radio 5 today, and Pat Nevin informed us, over, and over, and over and over and over and over and over again that Stoke totally outplayed city, but that city would have won the game but for their injured players being missing, in fact he said they are a totally different team when they have a full squad to pick from. this is the same Pat Nevin who in the last couple of weeks said Arsenal could not use injured players as an excuse for not winning games.

    Liked by 1 person

  49. Thanks for another totally magnificent article, Steww.

    dc’s early (and subsequent) comments sum up how I feel.

    Do you really use a Remington (or are you disguising the real source of your sore fingers)?

    OT: **** you Norwich.

    Liked by 1 person

  50. I think Campbell can be the next Van Persie. His finishing is top class.

    Like

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