Arsenal 0 - 0 Sunderland: New look Arsenal attack struggles with Sunderland bus

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Post by Jay29 Sat Aug 18, 2012 4:57 pm

The first day of the season. Everyone is excited and expectant of a convincing Arsenal win with the new signings justifying the money and hype.

It's typical, then, that the game ends in an anti-climax, with two of the new signings not doing so well and a decent-at-best performance that only culminated in a point.

Arsenal 0 - 0 Sunderland: New look Arsenal attack struggles with Sunderland bus AbDcVNeafH

Lack of cohesion amongst attackers

It is to be expected that there would be a lack of understanding between the front line with midfield. This is the first game without van Persie being the centre of our attacking system and the players haven't had the time to adapt to new players and slightly differing roles on the pitch.

Lukas Podolski, in particular, got lost in the shuffle. As a player who tends to float up front, he often found his space being occupied by the other attackers. Theo Walcott played very narrow today and often appeared trying to play off the shoulder instead of his usual ploy of making runs between the full back and centre back and this hindered Podolski's ability to make penetrating runs into the box.

Subsequently, Podolski had to drop deeper to find room, only to find that space taken by Santi Cazorla. Podolski isn't one to drift to the flanks too often, so this left a hole on our right hand side and the centre of the park congested.

It shouldn't be much surprise, then, that Cazorla found it tough to play passes in behind Sunderland's back line. The build-up came mostly down the centre or the left. Since Walcott was narrow, there was no one on the right hand side stretching the play. Our best chance in the first half was when Walcott got in between the full-back and centre back and was played in behind by Cazorla. This was a common method of offence for us last season.

In the second half, Walcott played in his usual role as a right winger in order to try and stretch Sunderland's back-line, but seldom saw the ball and didn't have many opportunities to produce anything. On the other side, Gervinho was beating his man with ease but couldn't find that final pass due to there being so many Sunderland player in the penalty area.

Podolski, again, looked a little lost. He rarely dropped deep to try and influence the play, but he didn't have much presence in the box, either. Perhaps this was down to him not being 100% fit yet, and maybe he didn't quite have the understanding with his other attackers just yet, but he generally seemed static in this half.

Giroud came on and missed a great chance, created entirely by a wonderful Cazorla pass.

It's not all disaster. There were certainly signs of encouragement here and things will only improve with time.

Reserved fullbacks; some defensive observations

It's difficult to judge a defence when the other team aren't attacking, but there a couple of things to point out.

Firstly, both fullbacks did not get forward as much as they used to. Jenkinson and Gibbs very rarely went beyond the wide men, even with the two them playing quite narrow. The consequences of this are two-fold:

1) It limits offensive play somewhat since fullbacks can provide extra passing options and cause damage to defences if not properly tracked;

2) It provides more cover for the defence.

While all the attention has been on the lack of a holding player so far, the full backs really are imperative to preventing opposition counter attacks. When Sunderland ventured forward (it wasn't very often), the full backs would join the back four and create a narrow defensive line, which effectively stifles most counters. This a feature of our defensive system to look out for this season.

Things will improve with time

The result was disappointing but there's no need to become discouraged. This a team with new players in a slightly different system playing there second game together. In an ideal world, Arsenal would have arranged more friendlies in order to give these guys more time to find an understanding and become fitter. However, the reality is these guys aren't as fit or as sharp as they can be, and they are still adapting to each other and to a new environment.

With that in mind, and the tough start we have to the season, I expect a slow start. However, the season has only just begun and it's a marathon, not a sprint. A slow start isn't going to hinder us too much. We started slow last season but once everything had settled, we put together a lengthy winning streak.

Player Ratings

Wojciech Szczesny - 6. Had to make two saves all game. Quiet day for him.

Per Mertesacker - 6. Good positioning and anticipation all game, but lost out on a couple of challenges high up the pitch.

Thomas Vermaelen - 6. Wasn't so busy. Was strangely disciplined.

Carl Jenkinson - 6. Made some sloppy passes and poor crosses, but did defend well when called upon.

Kieran Gibbs - 6. Was caught too high up the pitch at times and had to make one too many recovery tackles. Not so good going forward, either.

Mikel Arteta - 7. Played the deepest role in midfield. Was typically impeccable with his passing and did the defensive work well.

Abou Diaby - 6. Unremarkable performance. Dallied on the ball a bit too often. Got through 70 minutes without injury, though, so that's a huge plus.

Santi Cazorla - 8. Excellent debut. 94% passing accuracy for 77 passes and 7 chances created. Had a couple of decent attempts at goal. Still not fully fit, either.

Gervinho - 7. Good, bright and positive performance. Was excellent when dribbling with the ball, but struggled to find that end product.

Theo Walcott - 6. Played central at times. Had a couple of chances at goal. Not a bad performance, but not his best, either.

Lukas Podolski - 6. Looked a little lost with his positoning. Will improve with time.

--------------------------

Aaron Ramsey and Andrey Arshavin - N/A. Neither had much effect on the game.

Olivier Giroud - N/A. Missed a great chance but will score goals.


Last edited by GoonerJay29 on Sat Aug 18, 2012 6:15 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Post by TalkingReckless Sat Aug 18, 2012 4:58 pm

u have to give credit to Sunderland they came to defend and they did it.

We didn't have many clear cut chances
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Post by urbaNRoots Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:01 pm

Our own fault, 2-3 (good) chances all game - not enough when you aren't clinical.

Cazorla will do some amazing things this season, this was just tired Cazorla and still was great.


Last edited by urbaNRoots on Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Amar Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:01 pm

I know the attack still needs to build chemistry, but I'm still disappointed. It was important to start off with a win and create some momentum after the sales, and now we're already behind.

Gervinho played very well, as did Cazorla. Great ball to Giroud who should have bagged us the win there. Podolski semmed out of place imo, not knowing what to do at times.

Arshavin created some spark, but gave away the ball 3 times which led to counters.

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Post by Sri Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:02 pm

Credit for parking the bus? Not in the spirit of the game for me. :coffee: Effing retards defended too well, and we scuffed the one or two we did create.

Chamakh would have finished that, and Giroud missed :facepalm:

Lots of communication and team chemistry is yet missing. Understandably so. But being prepared for the season is more important than a bloody Asia tour imo.

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Post by Raptorgunner Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:02 pm

First game of the season, not bad we should have won but I think we will do better next game.
Sunderland have always done this when the face us.
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Post by MJ Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:03 pm

Legend wrote:u have to give credit to Sunderland they came to defend and they did it.

We didn't have many clear cut chances

That's true and I hope Gooners take note and don't let this minor setback make you lose hope. Sunderland had zero attacking appetite, not many PL teams play like that. We'll get better at breaking down ones that do but for now we can at least walk away with a point and go to Stock hungry with something to prove. Giroud and Podolski especially.

Cazorla was class. Gervinho was excellent. Gibbs was good. The defense in general looked much better but I don't know if that was also because Sunderland parked the bus.
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Post by Sri Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:03 pm

Amar wrote:Podolski semmed out of place imo, not knowing what to do at times.

Blame it on #9 :facepalm:

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Post by Sri Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:06 pm

MJGunner wrote:The defense in general looked much better but I don't know if that was also because Sunderland parked the bus.

We defended for 10 out of 95 minutes, and I am probably being generous here. Arsenal 0 - 0 Sunderland: New look Arsenal attack struggles with Sunderland bus Tumblr_m67ijv0Kla1qizx4p

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Post by Rev Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:06 pm

Well the midfield in general really helped out in recycling possession and double teaming certain players.

I don't know if it's Diaby's presence but we looked like a real compact midfield out there. Maybe selling Song isn't the worst thing after all. Cool
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Post by Raptorgunner Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:10 pm

How can any team win when the other team parks an oil-tanker on the field.
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Post by MJ Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:12 pm

srigooner wrote:
MJGunner wrote:The defense in general looked much better but I don't know if that was also because Sunderland parked the bus.

We defended for 10 out of 95 minutes, and I am probably being generous here.

And what a glorious 10 minutes it was :bow:


Aside from the finishing and the result or lack thereof, I'm pleased with the performance even though it's a rough draft of how we should be playing, still too many misplaced passes and too much miscommunication but that will come.

Diaby + Arteta + Cazorla were very slick in maintaining possession and I like them as a trio.
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Post by the xcx Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:12 pm

Cazorla :bow:
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Post by Sri Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:13 pm

Can't judge anything to do with the defense on the basis of one game in which the opponent was busy parking than giving our defenders a harder work out.

And if anyone here starts an argument on Podolski being wasted in front and him belonging in LW - Clubber [lol.com comments did a wonderful job to my mood]

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Post by urbaNRoots Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:17 pm

You can't judge a team like Sunderland for parking the bus away from home, 80-90% of the teams in the EPL do that. But it's not really a problem, Cazorla can break those defences when he's 100% fit and our strikers will start to totally fit in the team.
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Post by El Gunner Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:18 pm

Cazorla :bow: :bow: :bow:

We lacked creativity and urgency. Team looked tired and rusty.
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Post by Sri Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:23 pm

urbaNRoots wrote:You can't judge a team like Sunderland for parking the bus away from home, 80-90% of the teams in the EPL do that. But it's not really a problem, Cazorla can break those defences when he's 100% fit and our strikers will start to totally fit in the team.

We can't give that alibi everytime mate. If we know 90% teams do that, we are supposed to find a way to work around it. I am not going to harp on this for now, but I don't want to see mistakes being repeated this year again. I am pretty pissed off with the way things are going tbh, though its more a matter of tough luck than factors which were completely under our control. Frustrating nonetheless.

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Post by Raptorgunner Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:25 pm

http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/arsenal-agree-terms-with-barcelona-for-song :coffee:
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Post by Chumlum Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:33 pm

Gibbs, Gervinho, Cazorla all looked strong to me. Mertesacker read the game well, mostly. Giroud's miss was a big disappointment but his movement was smart to pick up Cazorla's pass. A physically subpar Cazorla was still terrific. Diaby looked good though he gave the ball away a bit too easily at times. Podolski - give him time to adapt. Jenkinson could work on his crossing.

Frustrating draw, but I'm still far from pessimistic about this season.
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Post by RealGunner Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:33 pm

Frustrating game but I am not mad or anything

More positives than negatives. Wenger was right when he said we will be phyisically short. We looked tired and lacked energy. Had a lot of players coming back from the internationals.

Despite that we looked good at times. Controlled the game. Cazorla looks like a beast. Podolski worked hard, Gervinho was good. Theo wasn't fit enough.

Diaby was playing his first PL game since 2011 so obviously lacking that edge. Arteta was immense. Defence was good bar first 10 minutes.
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Post by Eman Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:53 pm

srigooner wrote:Credit for parking the bus? Not in the spirit of the game for me. :coffee:
I completely agree. I hate it when every two seconds towards the end of a game like this the commentators will say that the team parking the bus 'deserves' or 'is full value for' a point. If you don't even try to win a game, hurting the other team by taking away 2 points more than helping yourself with 1, you have no sportsmanship and don't deserve a god damned thing. I could understand if it was a knockout competition and the weaker team is protecting a lead, but in a league it's just wrong, although I guess Sunderland did what they wanted to do quite efficiently and we screwed up a few times too.

I felt that Podolski's positioning in a central role was very poor today. I would much rather we play him on the left with Gervinho and buy another striker. I also did not like some of our decision making at key moments today, like around the 60-70th minute when we had someone free and clear unmarked on the right-hand side and whoever had the ball decided to pass it to Gibbs on the left who was double-marked :facepalm:

It's just the first game, but falling behind already is very annoying.
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Post by Jay29 Sat Aug 18, 2012 6:00 pm

Completed the first post. Slightly different layout than usual.

"Falling behind" at this point really doesn't mean a thing. It's one game out of thirty-eight. You don't need to be keeping pace within the first couple of months and one decent run of results when the team hits it stride can change everything.

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Post by El Gunner Sat Aug 18, 2012 6:05 pm

Keep the faith guys.

It's only the 1st game of the season. The team can only get better from now on in.

The game against Stoke's gonna be important next weekend. A must win, because after that, we got some tough fixtures.

Again, I should point out, Cazorla looks amazing. (and DON'T worry. I'm not the jinxing type) Smile
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Post by Eman Sat Aug 18, 2012 6:09 pm

GoonerJay29 wrote:"Falling behind" at this point really doesn't mean a thing. It's one game out of thirty-eight. You don't need to be keeping pace within the first couple of months and one decent run of results when the team hits it stride can change everything.
Yeah I know, but the whole feel-good aura around the team can really pick up with a positive opener. I just want to feel confident in my team like I did a week ago, not worry about what could come.

Also, you never gave Podolski a rating in the first post Razz
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Post by SUPERCARTTS Sat Aug 18, 2012 6:15 pm

I all what I predicted happened today. Arsenal had a lot of possession. Sunderland were cautious in attack. New personel need time to adapt. Individual performances were ok in all.

Recent departures wouldn't have helped preparation although to be honest, they were very much inevitable once it became apparent. I'm confident we'll come good.
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