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Arsenal Versus Sunderland: Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

Hallowed Ground

Sorry but I’m struggling to get my head into football mode for you this morning. Don’t panic, I haven’t gone all Jose Mourinho,  I don’t regard the final fixtures of a season as any less interesting or important than the first, it isn’t that. I’m just buried in another project and it’s demanding all of my time. I’ve missed watching the last three matches live and may well be working while watching this one so it’s becoming something of a habit as we hurtle towards a football free summer.

Luckily enough there is a website which allows me to watch the games without having to wait for the club to put them up and of course without knowing the result – something the official site seems to delight in sharing. I’ve had my suspicions after each game that we had won because one of the young men I support from time to time is an Arsenal fan and he can’t resist texting me a simple ‘Up the Arsenal’ message at around the time of the final whistle, something I suspect wouldn’t happen had we lost.

I shall at least be working from home this evening and so ought to be able to keep one eye on the action. It’ll be interesting to see if the game follows the pattern of our recent outings. Seems to me Arsène has bemused opponents by being less direct, less gung ho from the kick off playing a little deeper and gradually winding up the tempo as the game goes on. Teams who set out to park the bus must be confused to find their opponents content to slide the ball around among themselves as they peer from over the barricades wondering if the attack will ever come and if so, how it will transpire.

When your entire strategy is based upon tempting nine red and white shirts forward then instigating a long ball counter attack designed to drag the remaining central defender wide thus leaving a hole for others to romp through, it must be at least a little disconcerting to suddenly find three centre backs facing you and two wing backs pelting home to help them. It certainly seems to be working.

It needs to work twice more and we need City and Liverpool to screw up for our league ambitions to be realised. We all know the history, it’s happened before and who’s to say it won’t happen again? Of course it’s unlikely but if we don’t allow our dreams to draw us forward then our fears will surely drag us down. I would love another nail biting last day like last year, it rounds off a season rather wonderfully to confound one’s critics at the death. It would certainly provide the perfect aperitif to the cup final feast.

Standing in our way this evening is a Sunderland side who have had the kind of season they’d want to forget. It is in fact the kind of season that the small minority of so called fans, that gibbering, Wenger hating flock of self aggrandising, self important, attention seeking, septic sores on the beautiful face of our great club, seem to think Arsenal has endured. Having said that even if we were rooted at the foot of the table they’d still be over the top in their criticisms, so far from reality have they strayed.

Poor Sunderland are actually in the mire for real and not just in the imaginations of a few escaped lunatics. They cannot save themselves, their future is in the Championship but then so was that of Newcastle at a similar stage of last season and look how they performed against a certain Middlesex team who had it all still to play for. It’s a curious time of any campaign and weird results can and do happen. I just hope they don’t happen to us.

My real concern is the fitness of the players after a gruelling run of matches. There must be tiredness in some of the legs and with the cup final looming it would be such a shame for any of them to miss out. It would be especially galling for Alexis as he has just returned to form. Much like Aaron Ramsey the Chilean has that tenacious quality to keep trying to play his best possible football even when out of form and out of touch. Neither player likes to look for the simple option and both keep their heads up and keep plugging away until their natural game returns. Both have shown signs of getting back to their energetic, creative best and I will be keeping everything crossed that we see them at Wembley.

Sorry there I go again getting ahead of myself. It is difficult to maintain focus with an FA Cup final just around the corner. Even though Arsène keeps on getting us to Wembley I never tire of the occasion. However, Champion’s League qualification is, in some ways, as big a target and one we cannot give up until all hope is gone. Three points tonight keeps the flame alight and a favour from that most unlikely source – a certain Mr Pulis – will make the last day anything but boring.

If you’re at the match have a wonderful evening, if like me you’re watching online I hope the God of the dodgy internet stream smiles upon you and keeps you virus free. For the penultimate time in this league campaign I shall bid you farewell. Up the Arsenal!

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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183 comments on “Arsenal Versus Sunderland: Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

  1. The boycott was a damp squib. You will no doubt see plenty of pictures of empty seats and hear lots of sound bites about it, but whilst it was true that there were a lot of empty seats at kick-off, they soon filled up during the course of the first half, which is usual for mid week games when people are coming from work. The stadium was about as full as you would expect for a re-arranged game against an unfashionable team on a Tuesday night. Those who chose not to turn up missed a treat, just a shame we couldn’t turn our dominance into a feast of goals. I really felt for Olly G, who had some good chances to get the two goals he needs to join the 100 club. That would have been some goal had he scored that chance that turned into an assist for Alexis who was Johnny on the spot again. He really benefits from the creativity of his team mates, so it is a real shame that the narrative is all about Alexis as if we are a one man team.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. some quotes from cech on the empty seats tonight, he had 15 unused tickets due to the game being a rearranged game

    on it being a quiet atmosphere…
    Well, I think the game was postponed, so for example I had 15 tickets where the people couldn’t turn up because they obviously bought the flights for the other game which was due to be at the weekend.

    on whether his tickets were for the second tier…
    Yes, I think it’s due to you not only have people coming from London. People are working and people are committed to it and obviously when they buy the ticket the game gets postponed, sometimes it’s hard for them to turn up and I think this is always when you have postponed the game, not everybody can turn up. I think that was the case, but the people who came up, they tried to create the atmosphere and as a player, obviously you don’t look what’s in the stands. You are there to win and need to win and it was a crucial game for us. We needed to give ourselves a chance and we gave ourselves a chance.

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20170516/cech-my-take-on-that-nacho-backpass#pcXQMvYAUBgCWRxr.99

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very very impressive, against stubborn opponents, and other opponents.
    If,as I hope , Wenger stays, hope he keeping this formation at least as a basis. The players clearly wish to play this way, and it shows. Very good run, hopefully improved against Everton.
    Even if we don’t make the ECL …if we do not ….shotta may correct me, but a 95% confidence level or thereabouts of a statistical blip?? This team are moving in the right direction from the slump, I am sure the board will take that into account even if others do not.
    So far in May, as our PM would say, a strong, stable finish to the season, may it continue

    Liked by 2 people

  4. you know one good thing about the missing fans, the ones that do turn up seem far more inclined to actually support the team, get behind them, and there is far more patience, far less whinging, moaning and groaning at every missplaced pass, off target shot, or mistake. who knew that these tourists that keep ignoring the boycotts/marches banners etc would show themselves to be the ones who make noise and support the team, and not the “real (local) fans”

    Liked by 2 people

  5. ‘It took us a while to find our rhythm’

    Like the rest of us, Arsène Wenger had to wait patiently for his side to make the breakthrough against Sunderland on Tuesday night.

    Finally Alexis scored his 22nd and 23rd Premier League goals for the campaign to seal the win, and we kept the heat on our top-four rivals.

    ‘On the pitch, he becomes a devil’
    Read the report
    Who was our best player against Sunderland?

    Afterwards he faced the media, and this is what he had to say:

    on the game…
    It was a game we had absolutely to win. We did it, we have 72 points now and we have to focus to get 75. That was not likely to happen three or four weeks ago but we need to patient a bit because we played Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday, Tuesday, with two difficult away games. It took us a while to get into our rhythm. In the second half, in the last 25 or 30 minutes, it happened.

    on players having it in them to produce when it matters…
    We won more games than last year, because we already have one point more than last year. We have gone through a difficult period away from home. At home, if you look at our record, it’s quite good. We have lost three away games recently that we should not have lost, at West Brom just before the international break, and after at Crystal Palace. Overall I’d say it’s away from home that we have lost our chances to win the championship. At home, our record is decent.

    on turning point the away defeats v City and Everton…
    I would say yes because in the two games we were leading 1-0 and we got caught in the second half. I think especially at Everton, we were really unlucky because some decisions were really bad on the night. After, we had to go straight to Man City and it didn’t help. We can talk and talk, but at the end let’s make 75 points. If you look at the number of points we can make, it’s one of the best in the last 10 years.

    on the crowd and attendance…
    It’s Tuesday night against Sunderland. Everybody expects us to win. I didn’t count the number of people who were in the seats.

    on if it will be full on Sunday…
    We are sold out.

    on if it’s more difficult playing in front of empty seats…
    No, we do our job and we have shown that again tonight. When you play football, you don’t count the people in the stands. You play because you want to win the game and because you enjoy to play.

    on if Arsenal need a miracle to get into the top four…
    No, you never know. But anyway, I answered for 20 years the question – ‘the top four is nothing special’. So I don’t know why suddenly it could become such a big problem. I’m quite surprised. I want to absolutely make sure that we are in there but after that let’s get to 75 points and see what happens. You want all the teams to fight like Sunderland did tonight. After, you have to accept the result. What is for sure, if we win our game, we can only be far from one point. Let’s give ourselves every chance.

    on what percentage he puts on that…
    I don’t even think about percentage, I just think about let’s make sure we win the game, because we play against Everton. Even if you only had one per cent, you would have to play at totally 100 per cent. I think we have a chance. It would be the first time you make 75 points and aren’t in the top four.

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20170516/-it-took-us-a-while-to-find-our-rhythm-#T0uhFwvplmmYK5lT.99

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wenger ” I answered for 20 years the question – ‘the top four is nothing special’”

    oh wenger you are so deadly with the little dig

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Fans rate Alexis above Ozil at Arsenal.com by 45% vs 39%; they know fuck-all about football. No wonder there are so many bloggers and journos nicking a living

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Aaron‏ @ReidTheGame 3h3 hours ago

    33 of Mesut Özil’s 41 assists in the Premier League have led to one touch finishes from the goalscorers.

    On a plate. 🍽

    Liked by 2 people

  9. shotta, its always odd how even the most simplist of goals gains a player, or at least some players, way over the top ratings.

    also who ever runs the arsenal.com polls is many times as bad, with their limited picks for motm, up to this season, every player would be listed, but they now put up 3, sometimes baffling choices included.

    by the way I would suggest that many of those who vote for motm have not even watched the full game, just see alexis scored twice so automatic click for him.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Lewis‏ @LGAmbrose

    Man Utd will finish lower than last season after signing the most expensive player ever, Ibrahimović, and Bundesliga player of the year.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The media Xhaka narrative was in full flow tonight

    “he is a red card waiting to happen” – two reds in 31 bpl games, one of which was a disgrace from jon moss, the second one was debatable, again it was from jon moss.

    “he is always getting booked” – 5 yellow cards in 31 bpl games

    “he misses so many games through suspension” – twice suspended, as stated above, at least one of those suspensions should never have happened.

    “he gives away penalties” – 2 all season, one completely wrongly awarded, v stoke,

    the problem for Xhaka is, that not only have journos bought into this, but many AFC fans too, and worst of all, some of the refs seem to have too, and what he has done on jon moss, to get the treatment he has from him, god only knows

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Look at Ozil’s reaction after the ball is turned over. Bemusement? Disgust?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. if man utd lose the el final it will cost them £21M of sponsorship money, there is a penalty payment due to adidas if utd fail to make cl for a second year.
    and with el worth about £30M less in revenue than cl, it would amount to around £50M of a loss of income to them.

    Come on Ajax

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Henry Winter complained how Arsenal celebrated their opening goal

    its amazing that some Arsenal fans still claim that their is no anti Arsenal agenda in the media.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Oscar‏ @Reunewal 4h4 hours ago

    The amount of slander Xhaka has received this season is extraordinary given his performances.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Sky have picked the liverpoolv middlesbrough and watford v man city games for broadcast on sunday

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Some great football, mixed with what I thought was some nervousness leading to poor focus on the defensive end. Thankfully Cech was switched on.

    But what a game from two of our most maligned players. Ozil and Xhaka were both fantastic. And Ramsey, though not as good as that, was always involved in how we played. Alexis battled hard, apparently through injury, and got the two goals as well.

    We had so many shots on goal, and yet another keeper had one of their best days against us. But if you heard the commentary it was only about how poor we were, how flat the atmosphere was because ‘boycott’, and how frustrated Arsenal are. Not mentioning that most of the time this frustration was because the ref had one rule for them and another for us. Ozil’s brilliant game was once again treated by these idiots as him not being able to come up with his signature passes, despite trying. (At least they gave him that)

    I honestly think the British football media is populated by idiots and that they genuinely can’t see how Ozil impacts the game. Run around a bit, or let him know you’re there, and you are a great player. Actually play football and you disappear.

    So it comes down to the last day. Maybe it won’t happen for us this time around. Which should just build appreciation for how amazing a run it has been. But come what may, I’m also looking for us to wipe that annoying smirk off of Koeman’s face, who does his best to big up HIS record vs Wenger, without any acknowledgment of how much the refs have helped him achieve it, both at Southampton and at Everton. Rather he refers to it sarcastically. Which is worse.

    Liked by 6 people

  18. Ramsey news?

    Chambo’s and Rambo’s hammies didn’t survive this fixture crunch, Alexis carrying a niggle (a few kicks here and there, which as per Gabriel on Silva should all have been at least fouls, but they weren’t…) hope they’re all ok for the final.

    Like

  19. < Fouls with cards

    Like

  20. Xhaka is proving to be a fantastic player. The fact he doesn’t get away with things the likes of …say…Wanyama does shouldn’t detract.
    On the subject of Spurs, have heard their classy fans were engaging in homophobic chants against a certain player during last weekends ” celebration”
    media silence of course….and not a word in the Tottenham Standard

    Liked by 4 people

  21. Shard they are not idiots, they’re just not so nice but dim. Like Tim Payton who now has reached that enviable position of writing for an oligarch’s* rag that no one will pay money for, a ‘newspaper’ that is thrown away by more people then pick it up (for free) on a daily basis.

    Like

  22. The A-Z of why the spotted lesser hack dwarf and it’s relatives hate and loathe the key player in Germany’s World Cup winning team: Mesut Ozil

    And those are the footballing reasons…

    Like

  23. E.g.:

    Neither the BBC in their written coverage nor the Manchester Grunt have shown themselves to be capable of describing Ozil’s insane half volley whilst running at full sprint, calling it a pass etc.

    It’s almost as if the football on the pitch is irrelevant to them!

    Liked by 4 people

  24. fins didn’t tim not so nice but dim payton, call for a fan boycott of the game, yet was pictured attending the game himself

    Liked by 2 people

  25. as for koeman, only a few weeks ago he was claiming that Everton would finish above Arsenal with ease and maybe man utd too, if we beat them on sunday we will be 14 pts ahead,

    Liked by 2 people

  26. fins did you see how Giroud’s amazing goal v crystal palace has been dismissed as a fluke and so not worthy of being a contender for goal of the season, despite the incredible skill in the final shot, and not forgetting the wonderful one touch football in the build up, which started right on the edge of our area, and involved a great backheel pass by giroud in the middle of the field, then his lung bursting sprint into their area and a smashing powerful scorpian kick finish.

    but why should we be surprised that all things arsenal are downplayed, after all we are a club in a 10 or is it a 13 year crisis, left behind by trophyless spurs, and when our own fans and supporters groups are perpetuating the lie, why would they media not run with it.

    Liked by 4 people

  27. I really wish these guys actually would boycott the club. Leave. Stop buying tickets. Stop buying merchandise and stop pretending the club owes them anything personally. Entitled, self important idiots.

    And now Moyes is at it. Wenger’s comments ‘an insult to football’. What did Wenger say? Something commentators and pundits say all the time (and worse if Arsenal is the topic of discussion) That some teams are already on their holidays. Wenger even praised Sunderland’s determination yesterday and said that’s what he likes to see from the PL. But of course to the proud Brexit Brits, it is not Wenger’s comments, but Wenger’s existence that is the problem because it constantly shows them up.

    Liked by 6 people

  28. but shard the club owes them a cl and a bpl, after all they pay for the most expensive tickets in the world, and then dont bother using them. oh woe is me

    Like

  29. Even better were Aunty Bleeb’s in game headlines “AFC struggle” were quite amusing.

    I don’t know about you lot but when was the last time a team had thirty plus shots on goal and was described as ‘struggling’. anyone?

    Liked by 3 people

  30. Moyes. The Chosen One, chosen not by the Utd fans but by gallant podcastateers such as the renowned athlete and tactical genius Alan Davies & pals.

    TBF his Sunderland team played slightly better then the team managed by the current Utd coach.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. New post up

    Like

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