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Sunderland AFC v arsenal (h)...
match report

David Moyes’ struggling Sunderland side produced another shambolic display losing 4-1 to Arsenal at the SOL on Saturday lunchtime extending our winless streak in the league to 10 games. Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring for the visitors in the first half when he nodded in a cross after slack marking from Lamine Kone. Jermain Defoe did draw Sunderland level with half an hour to go from the penalty spot only for Sunderland to serve up another trademark capitulation shipping three goals in the space of seven minutes with Sanchez getting a second and Giroud also notching a brace.

After being sent to the stands in Sunderland’s defeat at Southampton in the EFL Cup David Moyes is clearly feeling the pressure following Sunderland’s worst ever start to a Premier League season. Moyes insists Sunderland’s performances have been improving of late but with Arsenal heading to Wearside unbeaten in all competitions since the opening day of the season a dramatic improvement would be needed to halt any further embarrassment.

Defeat at the death last Saturday at West Ham pretty much summed up Sunderland’s miserable start to the season. Having been on course to nick what would have been a priceless point the lads conceded with the last kick of the game after switching off at a set piece and gifting a side who have struggled at home all season the victory. Moyes admitted in his pre match conference that this job feels like the biggest challenge he has faced in his career and with Arsenal unbeaten in 13 games against Sunderland it was set to become even bigger.

Sunderland’s injury problems were starting to easeslightly with Adnan Januzaj and Jason Denayer nearing returns whilst Seb Larsson was pictured back in training this week. Arsene Wenger was boosted by the return to fitness of Oliver Giroud and Aaron Ramsey although Granit Zhaka was suspended and top scorer Theo Walcott faced a late fitness test.

Moyes made three changes to the side that started on the South Coast on Wednesday with O’Shea, Pienaar and Defoe returning at the expense of Djilobodji, McNair and Anichebe. Arsene Wenger named a strong side with Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil spearheading their attack although Walcott did not make the bench.

After a well observed minutes silence to mark the Remembrance Day commemorations we got under way and there was almost a calamitous opening for Sunderland when Pickford his clearance was blocked but it went wide for a goal kick. As you would expect Sunderland were second best and although they did their best at making life difficult for Arsenal they couldn’t get nearer the visitors when they started stringing passes together and Bellerin found his way into the box but scuffed his shot which was held by Pickford.

A well worked move saw Wenger’s side take the lead after a quick exchange of passes allowed Oxlade-Chamberlain space on the right who crossed for Sanchez who nodded into the top corner past Pickford after slipping in front of Kone. At the other end we did have a rare venture forward and Khazri showed a nice piece of skill to win a free kick in a dangerous position and although van Aanholt struck the free kick well it curled wide of the post. We did have the ball in the back of the net soon after when Khazri bundled his way into the box and crossed for Defoe to tap in but the assistant had long had his flag up for offside.

At the other end Arsenal almost doubled their lead after Sunderland cheaply conceded possession in the Arsenal half when van Aanholt was caught napping in possession despite 40 odd thousand cries of man on. The visitors broke with speed and power with Iwobi unleashing a powerful curling shot which just dipped over the bar. Despite their best efforts Moyes side couldn’t get near Wenger’s team and when they did they committed fouls which resulted in a string of yellow cards for Khazri, N’Dong and Pienaar after some robust challenges.

Sunderland were carved open again when Ozil got a free run at goal and tried to lob a volley over Pickford though the young stopper was equal to the effort diving backwards to palm it clear. We were dealt another injury blow before the break when John O’Shea limped off and was replaced by Papy Djilobodji.

Neither side made any changes at the break and despite trailing Sunderland seemed content sitting deep allowing Arsenal to play in front of them and attempting to stifle any attacks. This was a dangerous tactic though with the likes of Ozil on the pitch as he showed his ability to thread a pass through the eye of a needle catching Sunderland’s defence square playing in Oxlade-Chamberlain who was guilty of wasting the chance dragging his shot wide. Coquelin tried an effort from range before Wenger’s side were outraged that they weren’t awarded a penalty when Djilobodji appeared to haul down Alexis Sanchez.

With half an hour to go Sunderland got a foothold back in the game when they were awarded a penalty after Duncan Watmore capitalised on hesitant defending to close in on goal and round Peter Cech only for the keeper to bring him down. Cech was booked for the foul but could do nothing to stop Jermain Defoe’s confident penalty which sent him the wrong way.

Both sides made attacking changes looking to win the game with Moyes replacing Pienaar for Januzaj whilst Arsenal threw on Giroud for Iwobi. With his first touch Giroud put Arsenal ahead when he turned in a cross with a left foot volley before he got his second four minutes later nodding a corner past Pickford. The calamitous defending continued from Sunderland two minutes later with heads dropping all over the pitch allowing Sanchez to get his second stabbing the ball into the back of the net from inside the six yard box. This was greeted with chants of “you’re f***king sh*t” from a sizeable away following which the home crowd joined in with singing “we’re f***king sh*t” which to be fair is putting it nicely.

We were fortunate we didn’t concede more as Arsenal showed no signs of letting up continuing to put us under pressure for the remainder of the game and the three minutes injury time before the ref finally brought to an end the painful viewing.

Final Score – Sunderland 1 Arsenal 4

ALS Man of the Match – No One

Aidan Crowe

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