Welcome to my Arsenal blog for the 2015/16 season; here you can check out my thoughts on the current goings on at the club.
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Monday, 27 October 2014

Sanchez at the double as Arsenal see off Sunderland

Alexis Sanchez was once again the star man for Arsenal as he scored twice to give Arsenal a 2-0 win over Sunderland on Saturday. Both sides were low on confidence and it was an extremely scrappy game, especially after the hosts had lost 8-0 last weekend. The Gunners meanwhile were searching for their first league win in over a month and they got that thanks to some horrible individual errors at the back from Sunderland. Sanchez capitalised twice on mistakes to ensure that after this weekends football we sit fifth in the league. Calum Chambers was back in league action after being suspended for the Hull game last weekend whilst Jack Wilshere sat out as he himself served a suspension. Arteta came in for him, otherwise it was an unchanged line-up from last week. Meanwhile, Szczesny was back after missing out against Anderlecht through suspension in the week. The game also saw the return of Theo Walcott who was on the bench after nine months out.
Nacho Monreal improved heavily as Arsenal beat Sunderland
None of Arsenal's victories this season have been very convincing and that was again the case this weekend. We looked dangerous around the penalty area but a lack of end product was evident as we didn't create many clear cut opportunities all game. However it is encouraging that we do look dangerous and do look like scoring goals. It was no surprise to see Alexis grab another two goals as he has been the driving force behind this Arsenal side so far this season. His hard work and willingness to never give up was shown in the way he pressured Brown and Mannone for his goals.

It had been a sloppy start to the game and it was difficult to see where a clear cut chance was going to come from. However Wes Brown aided that, he attempted to play the ball back to the keeper from near the half way line but made a hash of the pass. That allowed Sanchez to steal in and run in on goal before dinking the ball over the despairing Vito Mannone. Mannone, a former Gunner had won Sunderland's player of the season in 2013/14 but he can be heavily embarrassed about the second goal in which he conceded. The ball was passed back to him but his touch was poor and Sanchez was allowed to tap into an empty net.

It was one of the more bizarre wins I think I've seen in recent times from Arsenal, and it was only our third victory in the League in 2014/15. It was a vitally important win though as we gained ground and extended our lead over the teams in front of us and behind us respectively as all of the top sides excluding Arsenal dropped points.

It was extremely encouraging to see us get a clean sheet. We've had some defensive worries this season and that looks set to continue after Gibbs limped off with yet another injury. However we're just about coping at the moment but had we signed more cover in the summer then you feel we wouldn't have these problems anyway. Koscielny is due back after the next international break though. I questioned Monreal's ability to play at centre half after the draw with Hull but he impressed me this weekend. He looked a lot more confident and assured now that he's adapting to the role in the middle. Against the big teams Nacho playing there would be a worry and he may look a little suspect at times but he'll improve in the role as time goes by as he is already showing.

The form of Santi Cazorla is quite a worrying situation and in my opinion he had a pretty average game against Sunderland. He always looks good on the ball but compare his form to his first season at the club and the goals and assists have dried up. Since 2012/13, a Premier League campaign in which he bagged 12 goals and 13 assists, he has only got 4 goals and 9 assists in 36 games. He looks like a player short of confidence and with Walcott returning and Podolski waiting on the wings he'll need to improve if he's going to keep his place in the side. His lack of confidence and composure was shown late on when he wasted two good opportunities as he blazed the ball over on both occasions.

It was great to finally win again though, and hopefully we can kick on now and really start to maintain a challenge at the top end of the league. Next up is Burnley at home which with no disrespect to them, should be a comfortable win and will therefore hopefully bring us added confidence.

The team's line-ups:

Sunderland: Mannone, Vergini, O'Shea, Brown, van Aanholt, Cattermole, Rodwell(74), Johnson(73), Larsson, Buckley, Fletcher(49).
Subs: Pantilimon, Reveillere, Mavrias, Bridcutt, Gomez(74), Wickham(49), Altidore(73).

Arsenal: Szczesny, Chambers, Mertesacker, Monreal, Gibbs(73), Arteta(87), Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain(90), Sanchez, Cazorla, Welbeck. 
Subs: Martinez, Bellerin(73), Ramsey(87), Rosicky(90), Walcott, Campbell, Podolski. 

My man of the match: Alexis Sanchez.

Referee: Kevin Friend.
Attendance: 44,449. 

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