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Sunderland AFC v arsenal (h)...
LINES FROM LONDON: EXILES BLOG

Although some commentators saw a bit of an improvement in Wednesday’s cup exit, I think we’ll have to improve a lot more if we’re going to get even a draw today. I just hope O’Shea is in for Djilobodji as I dread to think what may happen.

Arsenal have had a good start and we could suffer a real good hiding, something that hasn’t happened yet. Still, I’ll be at the match and will be roaring them on the best I can. We’ve had a tendency to do better against the top sides and we have to live in hope; well, try at any rate. I’ve had no team news at this early hour and don’t have an internet connection either so I’m in the dark about everything. Anyway, things should become clearer after a refreshing pre-match libation in the Cooper Rose (other pubs are available). Match prediction: 2-0 to Arsenal.

Well, in between the cries about Moyes having to go, the gallows humour is in full swing e.g. it’s pretty bad when you’ve got more points on your licence than the team’s got all season. What were those guys in white suits doing on Vauxies site? Looking for the third point.

We got the thumping that had been a while in coming and really it could have been worse. Arsenal had purred round the pitch, passing the ball accurately and running into space all the time before they took the lead in the nineteenth minute when a cross from the right was met by Sanchez, who nodded it in despite the presence of two defenders. We managed to get the ball in their net five minutes later but the offside flag was up and I think that was about it as regards our first-half scoring chances. We did pick up a couple of yellow-cards, which is getting to be the norm and we’ll have to watch that, along with all our other failings. I’m not sure how good PVA’s English is but someone should teach him the words “Man on! He was holding the ball on the edge of their box during a short period of pressure but despite everyone in the stadium seeing an opposition player bearing down on him, he stood there looking like one o’clock half-struck and allowed himself to be robbed and another Arsenal attack to take off. I’d been glad to see O’Shea starting instead of Djilobodji but it didn’t last too long as shortly before the break O’Shea went off injured and the dreaded change was made.

We started the second-half with more spirit and created a good chance when N’Dong put in a low cross from the right but it just eluded the onrunning Defoe. Jilobodji joined the yellow card club and I doubted we’d finish the game with eleven men. Sanchez wasn’t winning over any of the home fans with his penalty-appeal shenanigans. We got an equalizer twenty minutes in and hope reared its ugly head for a while. Watmore ran on to a good ball down the left and as he raced across their box he was nudged over and a penalty was awarded. There was some debate about whether he would’ve scored anyway – I don’t think he would have – but that was all academic as Defoe stepped up, sent Cech the wrong way and put us level. Five minutes later Arsenal brought on Giroud for Owobi and that was crucial. We took Pienaar off (to great applause) just after that and that weakened us as Januzaj contributed little.

How nice it would be to have someone like Giroud on the bench as within six minutes of him coming on we were 3-1 down and Giroud had got the two goals; one a flick in from a low cross and the other a header from a corner. That was clearly it as a contest but when their fourth goal went in, courtesy of crowd favourite Sanchez, at least a third of the crowd hastened to the exit. It’s not something I would ever do but they’d paid their money. After that I was just hoping it would end before we went even further behind but Arsenal eased off and let us have the ball, knowing that they’d probably cope with whatever we could muster. We tried but we couldn’t muster anything of significance. It ended 1-4 and there was a fair bit of booing all around me. I can’t see where our next win is coming from. I can’t see where our next point is coming from. What’s that coming over the hill? It’s relegation. It’s relegation.

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