Sunderland (1) – (3) Arsenal
Giroud 11′, Ramsey 67′, 76′
The Stadium of Light, Sunderland
Barclays Premier League
An away game against struggling Sunderland was the scene for Mesut Özil’s Arsenal debut, after signing from Real Madrid for a club record fee of £42.3 million.
And it didn’t take him long to make an impression. On 11 minutes, he cooly controlled a ball over the top with his first touch and laid on a great chance for Giroud with his second, and the Frenchman duly obliged by slotting in at the near post.
Özil was particularly unplayable in the first 45 minutes, creating 4/5 excellent chances for his new club – some of which Theo Walcott really should have scored. We were dominant in the first half and Walcott’s wastefulness in front of goal looked to have dearly cost Arsenal just after the break.
On 48 minutes, Koscielny – not for the first time this season – panicked in the box and brought down Adam Johnson for a stonewall penalty. Craig Gardiner dispatched the penalty and the sides were all square.
The Mertesacker/Koscielny partnership was excellent in the final 10 games of last season but at times this season the Frenchman has been erratic at the back. He’s already conceded two penalties this season, and had a red card to boot. Whether he’s lost some confidence or he’s just out of form, it is worrying as better teams than Sunderland won’t let us get away with these fundamental mistakes. Vermaelen is close to full fitness and Arsene has to make a decision whether he should drop Koscielny until he gets his form back.
If the first half was all about Özil, then the second was all about Ramsey. After Sunderland equalised they had a dominant spell in the game where they looked much more likely to score. Fortunately for us, with a bit of luck (which we don’t usually get) and some last ditch defending, we managed to keep the home side at bay and then Ramsey popped up with a massive goal.
A cross from Jenkinson (who I’ve said for a long time is better than Sagna at crossing) found Ramsey on the edge of the box who smashed a low volley into net – a goal of superb technique and great significance at that point in the match. After that, Sunderland’s heads dropped and after some smart interplay with Giroud gave Ramsey his second goal which was well deserved.
Ramsey has really come on leaps and bounds over the last 18 months and is a massive player for us now. Giroud is in a strong vain of form at the moment and Özil adds that touch of class to the team. Would Arsenal have taken all 3 points without Özil in the team yesterday? It’s hard to say but we’ve seen Arsenal of old struggle with games of this type – and at times we did struggle. It would be nice to believe that having a world class player like Özil gave us that extra confidence and determination to get us over the line against Sunderland. Typically when we’ve seen Arsenal struggle in games it has ended in a draw or even worse, a defeat.
But yesterday, we fought hard and managed to take home all 3 points.