WTTGT Writer: Devon James Andre Halls
(Apologies for any glaring inaccuracies in these ratings, the stream I had to use kept freezing so I may have missed the odd key moment).
Szcz: An assured performance from the 6f 5i stopper, repelling a series of long range efforts from Sunderland as they looked to get up a head of steam. One strike in particular dipped just before it reached him, and would have caught many keepers out. Their goal was very well taken from a tight angle, and while his positioning may have been slightly off cue I think it would be unduly harsh to overly criticise. 7/10.
Sagna: It was good to have our resident fullback doing his thing on the right hand side again, and the difference in positional awareness between him and his deputies is nauseatingly palpable. He made plenty of tackles throughout and got forward well, shipping in a few semi-decent crosses. However if my memory serves me correctly it was his poor pass that led to Mertesacker being sniped from row Z, which subsequently let to their goal. He’ll eradicate mistakes like that once his match fitness increases, of that I have no doubt. 6/10.
Mertesacker: At the time of its happening I though one spindly, giraffe like limb had clipped his other spindly, giraffe like limb and was understandably furious that a pre-schoolboy error might cost us so dearly. Looking at the replay and the following stretcher/leg brace/ oxygen / morphine /air-ambulance/state funeral it looks as if he may have gone down due to injury, and there’s not much the player can do to prevent it from happening. An incident in the first half could have been penalty worthy if you’re a Sunderland supporter, but I think the ref used some common sense in not giving it. He won his aerial challenges and made a few interceptions but I guess we expect that of our centre backs, so he needs to eliminate the little mistakes from his game. 5/10.
Koscielny: As I said prior to the game, this man is convincing me every week that he is vital for us at the back. Not that I did, but I had bothered to count every interception, header, out muscling, out pacing, physically intimidating, forward surging play made by the Frenchman I may well have run out of fingers and toes and might have had to borrow a friends. One misjudgement of a header towards the end of the game gave their Korean half of a half of a half of a chance from 18 yards which he put wide, but apart from that it’s all positive. 7/10.
Vermaelen: The vice captain wasn’t really tested today as a lot of their attacks seemed to manifest themselves down our right hand side as opposed to our left. He was clearly faultless for the goal, and apart from giving away a dangerous free kick just outside the box late on was fairly comfortable. He shipped in a couple of nice crosses too, finishing the game without any major dramas. 6/10.
Song: He held the centre of the park well for 70 odd minutes and made his customary 50 tackles. I really do think that we’d struggle if he had gone to Africa to represent his nation, and while we have dropped points with him in the team I think he make it less likely that we will. He affords us security and tenacity in the middle, and can still do a job at centre back too, as proved today when Merts went off. Every game he seems to make a few missed passes which you may argue a holding midfielder shouldn’t, yet when one of them comes off and sets up a goal we all love him for doing it. 8 league assists so far says all it need to I think. 7/10.
Arteta: Another game in which Arteta proved his worth to the team, retaining possession and ensuring that we can continue with the next phase of play. His pass completion rate was 94% today, and he makes the 4th most passes per game in Europe (reliably informed by a stat account on twitter). He made 76 more passes today than any Sunderland player, and really does act as our engine to keep driving forward. His fitness is paramount for any attack on 4th place that we may attempt. 7/10.
Rosicky: Unfortunately didn’t accomplish much in this game, and made a few strange decisions which led to us turning over possession. I have advocated his selection for the last few games while Ramsey has been taking a breather, but it may well be time for Czech to step aside again for the Welshman. 5/10.
The Ox: He came unstuck a number of times against the defending of Bardsley and others, and whilst showing much endeavour and enthusiasm never really got fully into his stride. He ran the ball out of his own control a few times, and the front 3 struggled as a whole to interlink well. However we can’t expect this teenager to be our saviour in every game, and I think he was due a quiet performance. 6/10.
Walcott: Another frustrating afternoon for the winger who failed to have a meaningful impact on the game. A shot across goal in the first half fizzed just wide, but there was nothing else coming from him during the game. He seems to run out of ideas all too often, which perhaps suggests he doesn’t have any and is a bit clueless against a deep defence, which is how Sunderland set up today. The next few months are very important for him as he plays for a new contract and for selection in the England team for the Euros, and he needs to keep high game level on a consistent basis. He’s not doing that right now so needs to step up, he’s not a teenager anymore and he needs to show it.
Van Persie: The captain barely got on the ball all game to perfectly honest, and when he did he struggled to link up with The Ox and Walcott because of the regressive tactics employed my Martin O’Neill (no surprises there). The Perse has contributed to either a goal or an assist in 15 of 25 Premier League games, so we can’t judge too harshly. He won’t be able to win us every game by himself, so we need the squad to step in and help him out, which today they did. 6/10.
Ramsey: He looked rejuvenated today after spend most of the last few games on the sidelines, and the goal he scored was sensationally well taken. Wenger said pre game that once he gets one goal many more will follow, so I hope he is correct in that prediction. His potential is gradually being realised, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him and Wilsher as the fulcrum of our team for many seasons to come. 7/10.
Arshavin: He came on with about 7 minutes to go, and I remember saying to myself “what the bloody hell is he going to do in 7 minutes?”. Fortunately the answer was plenty, as he chipped in a delightful cross for Le Roi to finish. Good production from Arshavin, I hope to see more as the season continues. 7/10.
Henry: There aren’t really superlatives enough for him, but he really does embody Arsenal FC when he plays. He shows fight, he shows desire, he shows resilience, but above all he shows that age is no bar, and that ageism should be viewed in just as poor a light in football as it is anywhere else. He used his strength and experience to great effect, holding onto the ball in the final minutes and generally annoying the pants off of the opposition. The movement for his finish was Van Persie esq (can I get away with saying that?), and the finish coolly taken when surrounded by defenders and a keeper. 3 goals for arsenal in 110 minutes, 2 goals from 2 shots on target inside 99 minutes in The Premier League, which I am informed by @MikelArteta08 beats Torres league total for the season. Legend doesn’t come close in my book. What a great was to say goodbye the The Prem. 8/10.
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