Arsenal travelled to Sunderland today in a late kick-off and the result was a disappointing 1-1 draw. I feel sick. Sick and pissed off. Phil Dowd managed to ruin what could have been a good game, with his terrible and inconsistent refereeing. An absolute joke.
First of all I should make it known that Sunderland deserved to grab a point. They played extremely well against us in the first half, keeping possession for most of the 45 minutes, a feat that few teams can perform against us with such ease. We did look a bit slow to start the game, never really getting into our flow and the slick passing we loyal Gooners are accustomed to failed to materialise as the Black Cats dominated possession.
Despite Arsenal's failure to launch, we took an early lead in the 13th minute against the run of play. And it was some goal, which will undoubtedly be one of the oddest you'll see all season. Anton Ferdinand failed to play the ball, as his clearance struck Fabregas's right foot and the ball ricocheted about 40 yards into the back of the Sunderland net. 1-0 to the Arsenal just like that, a complete fluke but gladly accepted (you could see the Arsenal players having a bit of a laugh about it during the celebrations). We managed to keep Sunderland at bay until half time, and we started the second half brightly as our passing began to come together.
Although today's game cannot exactly be called a classic (not by any means) there were still a lot of positives to take from the match. For starters, our defence were on top of their game this afternoon. Squillaci and Koscielny were outstanding; they were dominant in the air and on the ground, and look to have slotted into this Arsenal side with ease. Two fantastic performances from our new boys. In fact, the majority of the team played pretty well today and I can't really think of any particular individual who should be singled out for criticism. Wilshere was quality, as was Nasri who was at his dazzling best. Chamakh did well to lead the attack, and Rosicky also played pretty well (apart from his penalty miss... wow did that cost us in the end) when he replaced Fabregas in the first half (here's hoping Cesc's injury isn't a nasty one).
And now for the negatives. Hold on a sec, there is only one. And it starts and ends with Phil Dowd. The 47 year old Premier League official had a terrible game. Alex Song should never have been sent off. His first booking he received was laughable at best, as Song barely made contact with Steed Malbranque at all. His second yellow card was controversial yet again, as Malbranque decided to try and collect the ball by running through our midfield monster. Well that didn't work, and so the former Tottenham man decided to just fall over instead. Out came Dowd's little black book and Song was dismissed with over half an hour left to go in the game. Phil Dowd, you are officially a moron.
And the rest is history. Rosicky wasted a chance to secure all 3 points by blazing his penalty over the bar and despite resilient defending from 10-man Arsenal, it was not enough, as Darren Bent equalised in the 95th minute when there was only supposed to be 4 minutes of injury time. Thanks again Mr Dowd! Like I said earlier, Sunderland's efforts this afternoon warranted a deserved point so I'm sure their fans are over the moon with this result. But I am not. We had a chance to go top of the league this evening, and I fear that dropping 2 points today will cost us in the long run. Put it this way, I am going to be one angry Arsenal fan if we lose the title in May by 1 or 2 points.
Alas, this is football and these things happen. We've got to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off ahead of Tuesday's Carling Cup game at White Hart Lane. Ol' Twitchy himself will no doubt put out a strong team, probably his first 11, so our kids will have to be at their best if we are to progress in this competition. I hope Wenger mixes in some of our starters so the kids have some experienced guys to lead them out there, as this is a cup we have a great chance to win this year, like we do every year, so I want Sir Arsene to take it seriously. Hopefully I will be able to catch the game in the pub as I'm moving back to Bath tomorrow for uni again. If I have the internet I'll try and write something about it, but you'll just have to wait and see!
Thanks for reading.