We came, we saw, and we beat a championship team. We were in a bit of a double edged sword situation yesterday: win and everyone yawns and says so what, draw or lose and we get mercilessly whipped.
But a strolling win didn't initially seem on the cards. Sunderland pressured us well in the first quarter of the match, and whilst they didn't get a shot on goal, Jens looked noticably edgy, dropping a few crosses as they came over.
After winning a free-kick on the left-hand side, Henry floated the ball in and Sunderland scored an own goal. Henry then set up Fab with a beautifully threaded ball, who then delightfuly pocked it over the keeper [no matter what the Sky commentator said it wasn't a mis-hit]. Tel then completed his hat-trick of influence on the goals with a goal himself, curling the ball over the wall and into the corner. As the kick was lined up it was obvious he would try it, given the acres of space the Sunderland keeper had afforded him. The game hammered home, if it was any more possible, how much we'd lose if Tel goes. He was literally the difference between us and a poor, poor side. We would have struggled to score without him today, and a Henry-less future just does not bear thinking about.
Second half, and we st-ro-lled. I read the paper. Most notable incident for me was another miss from RvP, after Dennis had expertly chipped the ball to his run. His lack of confidence in front of goal is really beginning to be a worry. Although I won't even try and defend how poor Adebayor was today.
The second half was also notable for Ash, 'I'm not just the cash, I do also play football' getting back on, prompting a rant from Myles on his latest ANR piece. [which he even ended with, basically, 'if you don't agree with me f*** off' statement]. Now I agree with Myles that the likelihood is that Ash will be sold this summer, and that this sale is largely Ash's fault, but, personally, it was great to see him in an Arsenal shirt again. He has quite a unique deneamour on the field, and it was, possibly the highlight of the game to see him scampering up and down the left wing again. I wish he had just come out and apologised for what he did with Chelsea, instead of trying to turn himself into some ridiculous martyr for laissez-faire economics. A frank apology to Arsenal fans, and he could stay. But it hasn't happened, and, given his agent, where the cash goes so will Ash; at least probably. I hope not: he's such a good player, and we've really missed him this year. I hope he stays, despite everything that's happened.
Ash's arrival meant we had, shock, two England players on today. Take that Daily Mail. In truth, Sol was pretty poor though, falling over at one point and letting a Sunderland player through, his blushes spared only by a superb reflex save from Jens. He looked slow and lumbering, which bodes ill for us if Phil isn't back for the CL final, and is equally bad for England when Sven inevitably takes him to the World Cup.
The game was also marred by a horrendous challenge on Diaby in the 92nd minute. His screams of pain were audible on the tv, and a replay of the challenge showed Smith - sent off on in his debut earlier this season - catch Diaby awfully on the ankle. Seeing him subsequently strapped to the stretcher, his ankle hanging off at a right angle , it was obviously serious, and it's a blow to lose him for the last few games of the season. Especially when it means we'll see more of the distinctly average, if not awful, Song.
So, good to get the points, but it all be for nowt if we don't beat City on Thursday, which will be a far tougher game. West Ham's win tonight was slight hope that they might actually try and take points off Spurs on Sunday.
The other notable incident of the weekend was, of course, Rooney's injury. 80 minutes gone, 3-0 down, and still scampering around the field, he breaks his metatarsal. Couldn't he have, just for once, curbed his enthusiasm and considered the bigger picture? It's his sheer exuberance which makes him the player he was, but he will definitely learn something from this. In any case, England's Pele is now gone. Sven will definitely take him, of course, and no doubt Rooney will play, but it will be, in all likelihood, a fiasco of a rushed back, half-fit player. A good idea I saw today to solve the problem would be to play Joe Cole as a support striker off Owen [ if he goes], with Becks, Lampard, and Gerrard behind, with a holding midfielder behind them. Given the goals Lamard, Gerrard and Cole get, this would be a workable idea for me.
Til next time, Gb.