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Sunderland (Leadbitter 86′) 1-1 Arsenal (Fabregas 90′ +3)
Stadium: Stadium of Light, England
Competition: English Premier League
Date: 4 October 2008
Kickoff: 15:00 BST, 10:00 EST
Arsenal drew with Sunderland, 1-1, in a furious finish at the Stadium of Light. Soccerlens brought you live coverage of the match! Click below for the live blog.
To say that both of these teams have been up-and-down so far this season would be an understatement. After looking invincible against the likes of Newcastle United, Blackburn, and Bolton, Arsenal came crashing back to earth after a shocking 2-1 loss to newly-promoted Hull City last weekend. That, along with a surprising loss to Fulham, has prompted speculation that Arsenal plays down to their competition. Arsenal seeming bounced back in midweek, demolishing Porto in a Champions League match, however, whether they can muster up the same kind of effort to dispatch their old nemesis, Roy Keane, and his Sunderland squad remains to be seen.
As for Sunderland, after a much bally-hooed summer spending spree, they sit in 13th place, seemingly capable of world class football one weekend, and looking like a mess the next one. Big wins against Tottenham and Middlesborough have been balanced out by losses to Manchester City and Aston Villa. Keano and his boys wanted to take a big step forward this year. They’ve beaten the teams that they’re supposed to beat, however, they have yet to show that they can run with the big dogs.
Arsenal brought back Samir Nasri during the Champions League clash, and he’ll probably get the nod once again over the ineffective Emmanuel Eboue. Robin Van Persie, who was heavily criticized after the Hull loss, seemingly preserved his place in the starting XI with a brace against Porto. Meanwhile, Sunderland should have most of their top-choice players available, including new-signees Anton Ferdinand, Djbril Cisse, Pascual Chimbonda, and El Hadji Diouf.
In any event, it should be an interesting match between two squads with a lot to prove. Will Arsenal show that they can play well week-in and week-out? Will Sunderland be a force to reckon with this season? We should find out…
Sunderland: Gordon, Chimbonda, Ferdinand, Collins, McCartney, Malbranque, Whitehead (c), Yorke, Richardson, Reid, Cisse.
Subs: Fulop, Bardsley, Diouf, Murphy, Chopra, Leadbitter, Healy.
The head-scratcher is Yorke, who will make his first start of the season as injured Liam Miller gets dropped from the squad. I guess Keane’s feud with the Trinidad and Tobago authorities didn’t extend to his old Manchester United teammate. Andy Reid will also start as Roy Keane looks to go with a 4-5-1 formation. Probably a good idea, considering how Fulham used their midfield pressure to knock Arsenal off its game. Diouf will drop to the bench, but will be a good option off the bench should Sunderland need a goal late in the game.
Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas (c), Clichy, Walcott, Fabregas, Denilson, Song, Adebayor, Van Persie.
Subs: Fabianski, Nasri, Vela, Silvestre, Djourou, Bendtner, Eboue.
Not a lot of surprises for Arsenal. Denilson looks like he’s settled into the Flamini’s old role in midfield. Song will start on the wing over Eboue, and Nasri will be on the bench for the Gunners. Otherwise, no changes from the squad that lost to Hull. Still, Arsene Wenger isn’t one to blow things up after one bad loss, so it’s understandable that he’d run out his usual guys and see what they can do against Sunderland.
Minute by Minute
90′ + 5 There’s the whistle and we’re done. What a finish! Arsenal looked dead and buried, but they dug down deep and managed to salvage the point. Thanks to everyone who followed along and be sure to catch me tomorrow for Chelsea/Aston Villa!
90′ + 4 Arsenal on the attack again as they try to steal the win. Great through-ball to Vela, but Ferdinand knocks it away. Fabregas then lifts a great cross towards the far post that Gordon can’t handle cleanly. Adebayor goes up and touches it with his hand, though, and Sunderland look like they’ll hold on to the point.
90′ + 3 GOAL! Sagna wins the corner as McCartney knocks away his cross attempt deep down the right flank. Van Persie sends it in and Fabregas heads it in. Gordon came off his line to try and knock it away, but Fabregas got to it first. Terrible defending from Sunderland. How do you let the shortest guy on the pitch beat you for a header on a corner?
90′ + 2 Murphy gets it deep down the left flank, but instead of crossing into the box, he holds it to waste time. Sagna eventually takes it away and sends a long range pass that’s handed by Vela.
90′ + 1 Four minutes will be added on. Gallas tries some trickery in the box and sets himself up for a bicycle kick that’s wide of the post.
90′ Bendtner is carded for stupidly shoving Chimbonda after the play is over. Arsenal has a tendency to lose their cool in these kinds of situations. I’m sure Wenger will say that he didn’t see the incident. Arsenal win the corner, but Fabregas’ corner is knocked away by Ferdinand.
89′ Fabregas tries the shot from the right side of the box, but it’s easily saved by Gordon.
88′ Cisse comes off for Murphy as Keane looks to shore up that defense.
87′ Chopra comes in for Malbranque while Song comes off for Arsenal and Vela comes in. Sunderland come back for more and Cisse has a chance, but he mistimes his run and is called offsides. Arsenal look shell-shocked.
86′ GOAL!! Leadbitter with an ambitious shot from long range that clips the underside of the crossbar and goes in! Wow! What a shot. Keano now looks like a genius for sending him on (at least, I’m sure that’s what Keano will say). Richardson was the unsung hero as he dispossessed Song and assisted on the goal.
84′ Cisse lifts the cross from the right edge of the box to Malbranque. Malbranque is called off-sides, though, otherwise that would have been a good chance for him. Yorke comes off for Leadbitter, and Yorke gets a nice hand from the crowd.
83′ Fabregas’ long-range shot goes out for the corner. Van Persie whips it in and Sunderland clear it away from danger.
82′ Bendtner with a great chip pass to Van Persie, who is alone with the keeper. He shoots but Gordon with the great reflex save to deny him.
81′ Corner eventually goes to Nasri, who tries to cross it back across goal. It goes out, instead, for a goal-kick.
80′ Reid with another strong effort to take it away from Sagna. Arsenal recover, though, and they’re off to the races. Van Persie gets it on the left edge of the box. He goes to shoot, but Chimbonda knocks it away for the corner.
79′ Bendtner with the long-range shot that isn’t even close to going in. Poor effort from him.
78′ Fabregas finds Adebayor on the edge of the box. Adebayor goes towards the goal and lays it off to Nasri, on his left. Nasri tries to poke it past Gordon, but Gordon easily saves it. You’ll have to do better than that, Samir.
76′ Long-range pass to Cisse again, but it’s long. Reid steals it from Sagna and he tries to cross it into the box to Cisse. It’s long and Arsenal get the goalkick. Richardson was trailing the play (man, he’s played well today), and was calling for it on the edge of the box.
75′ Malbranque with a long-range shot that is just wide of the near post.
74′ Arsenal have an interesting opportunity from about 40 yards out or so. Nasri will come on for Denilson, who did not impress today. Fabregas’s entry pass is headed away by Reid. Yorke gets caught from behind by Nasri, who led with his elbow. Nasri is whistled for the foul, but probably should have been booked.
73′ Arsenal have played better in this half, but still don’t look sharp. Yorke gets booked for a foul on Song.
72′ Nasri should be coming on soon. Bendtner gets called for the foul on McCartney. Long pass to Reid and he can’t get there in time. Ferdinand apologizes for it.
69′ Great defending by Sunderland as Adebayor gets it deep in the box from Bendtner. Adebayor tries to turn and fire, but Collins does a great job and denies Adebayor. Adebayor passes it to Sagna, who tries to cross it back into the box, but Whitehead knocks it away. I thought that was going to be a goal, for sure.
68′ Fabregas passes to Van Persie, but he can’t handle it and Yorke takes it. Yorke has played surprisingly well as a holder today.
67′ Free kick by Reid that bounces in front of goal. It’s well past Cisse, though, Almunia takes it.
66′ Walcott will come off and Adebayor’s good buddy, Bendtner, will come on. Bendtner has a knack for scoring late goals, so we’ll see how this works out. I’d imagine Van Persie would drop to the midfield to accommodate Bendtner.
65′ Richardson goes into the book for a foul on Denilson.
64′ Nasri and Bendtner are warming up and it looks like Arsenal will be making a change soon. Richardson sends it forward to Cisse, but Almunia comes out to cut out the pass.
63′ Fabregas tries the long-range shot, but Reid blocks it. Van Persie to Clichy on the left flank, and Clichy’s cross is too close to Gordon and he easily handles it.
62′ Good chance for Sunderland here as they have a free-kick from about 30 yards out or so. Reid and Cisse are standing over it, so we’ll see who takes it (Cisse, probably). Nope. Reid takes it and it’s on target, but Almunia makes the save.
61′ Richardson with the long-range shot that Almunia easily handles. Sunderland get it back and Whitehead makes a strong run towards goal, but Toure knocks him down and gets booked.
59′ Someone finally scores as West Brom goes up 1-0 on Fulham. Arsenal fans are chanting the name of “Patrick Vieira.” Who is that anyway? Some bench-warmer for Inter Milan? Anyway, Fabregas mishandles the ball, but it comes off Yorke and goes forward to Adebayor. Adebayor with the volley on goal, but Gordon saves it. He can’t handle the rebound, but luckily for him, Ferdinand is there to clear it away.
56′ Poor giveaway by Arsenal as Denilson loses it and Cisse leads the break. He has Malbranque with him and Richardson makes the late run down the middle, but Cisse goes for the long-range shot that goes well over the bar. Meanwhile, Van Persie finds the back of the net, but it’s waved off. Walcott was deep down the right flank and thought he got the cross to Van Persie off before the ball went past the end-line, but the line-judge holds up the flag. On the replay, it’s unclear whether the ball went over, so I guess we’ll have to defer to the refs on this one.
55′ Van Persie passes it to Walcott, but it’s behind him and he has to slow down to handle it. McCartney knocks it away to concede the corner, but the damage could have been much worse. If Van Persie had played it ahead to Walcott, then Walcott would have had the great opportunity. Van Persie whips in the corner, but Chimbonda knocks it away.
52′ Van Persie lays it off to his right to Sagna, who tries to cross it into the box. McCartney knocks it away for the corner. Van Persie whips it in and Adebayor heads it over the bar. He was well marked, but still managed to get his head on it.
51′ Cut to closeup of Wenger on the bench. I’m no expert on body language, but he does NOT look happy.
50′ Fabregas with a poor pass to Song, but Sunderland give it right back and the sloppiness continues. Walcott gets away from Yorke and tries to lay it off to Sagna, but good defense from Sunderland to deny him.
49′ Arsenal on the break as Fabregas finds Adebayor with the through-ball. Ferdinand and Collins break it up, though, and Adebayor’s frustrations continue.
48′ Arsenal builds up their attack. Fabregas holds it and sends in a good pass to Walcott. Walcott tries to cross it to the other side of the box to Van Persie, but he can’t get there in time. Walcott probably should have held onto that.
47′ Adebayor makes a nice move to get around McCartney on the right. He tries to pass it back to Walcott on the edge of the box, but Collins is there to knock it away.
46′ Arsenal kick off and here we go.
46′ Apparently, no one in any of the matches going on in the Premiership have scored yet. I guess we’re in good company.
Well, it was a sloppy half and both sides weren’t able to generate much consistency on offense. Sunderland had the better chance as Cisse really should have converted Walcott’s howler, but Almunia made the great save to deny him. Arsenal will have to tighten up their passing as Fabregas, Van Persie, and Walcott have been less than stellar.
45′ + 1 One minute will be added. There’s the whistle and we’re at halftime. Time to visit the bathroom.
45′ Sagna tees up Denilson, who uncorks one from long-range. It’s just wide of the post, though, and Sunderland fans exhale.
44′ Nice steal from Fabregas as he picks Richardson’s pocket. Fabregas tries to send it forward to Adebayor, but it’s long and goes out for a Sunderland throw.
43′ Nice header by Clichy to Van Persie. Van Persie whips it into the box, but Collins is there to head it away. Back the other way and Richardson flicks it towards goal. It’s easily taken by Almunia. It looked like Richardson was hoping to flick it towards one of his teammates. Unfortunately for him, there was no one there except for Almunia.
42′ Van Persie runs into the sea of candy-stripers and loses the ball.
41′ Denilson gets fouled by Whitehead and now it’s Whitehead’s turn to see yellow. Fair is fair. If Sagna deserved it then Whitehead certainly does.
40′ Sagna with a nice run down the right and he crosses into the box. Malbranque (who is spending a lot of time on defense) is there to head it away.
39′ Fabregas with the long over-the-top lob to Adebayor, but he’s well marked it Chimbonda clears it away. Clichy then hip-checks Chimbonda to the ground and Clichy gets booked.
37′ Another giveaway from Arsenal in their own half (this time Fabregas), but Sunderland can’t take advantage. Back the other way and Walcott with the great shot on goal, but Gordon makes a great save. He taps it to Collins and Sunderland escape. Excellent save since Van Persie was breathing down his neck. If Gordon doesn’t handle that one cleanly, then Van Persie would have knocked in the rebound. Back the other way as Cisse makes a great run down the right. He crosses towards an unmarked Andy Reid, but it’s too high and he can’t get it on target. Reid tries to play it back towards the far post to Cisse, but he can’t get on the end of it.
36′ Good buildup from Arsenal as Song squeezes the through-ball to Fabregas. Fabregas is out of position and he sends it back out Song. Yorke is there to poke it away and Song is called for the foul.
34′ Poor clearance from Whitehead goes right to Walcott on the edge of the box. His shot is off target, but he had the right idea. This match will come down to whoever makes the big mistake.
33′ Yorke is called for the foul on Sagna. Van Persie battles with Whitehead again, this time Whitehead takes it away and Van Persie grabs at Whitehead and is whistled for the foul. Closeup for Anton Ferdinand and damn, he really does look like his brother.
31′ Walcott with a terrible cross that goes out past the end-line. He had targets in the box, too. Walcott is going to have to learn how to be more consistent, but getting regular playing time seems to be helping him. At least Wenger isn’t burying him behind Van Persie and Adebayor like he did last season.
30′ Sagna tries to spring Walcott deep down the right flank, but Walcott can’t handle it and it goes out for a Sunderland throw.
29′ Another Arsenal giveaway in Sunderland territory and this one is getting ugly. It’s Walcott this time. Or should I say, once again.
28′ Whitehead is called for a foul on Van Persie as it looked like both of them were jostling for the ball. Whitehead isn’t happy about it. In fairness, it looked like he was trying to second base on Van Persie.
27′ Adebayor with the cross into the box, but it’s headed away by Malbranque.
26′ Another Sunderland giveaway deep in Arsenal territory. Very sloppy first half from both sides.
25′ Ferdinand does his best impersonation of his older brother and cuts out the pass. Yorke gives it away, though, and Arsenal are on the attack. Adebayor has it on the edge of the box and gives it to Fabregas. Richardson with the great defense (!) to take it away from Fabregas. I’m as surprised as you are.
24′ Richardson is called for the foul on Song at midfield.
23′ Gordon gets the back pass and he gives it away to Van Persie who is outside the box. Sunderland closes quickly, so Van Persie has to reset the offense. That could have been disastrous.
22′ Cisse with the poor cross from the right and it goes past the touch-line for an Arsenal throw.
21′ Adebayor with an optimistic effort from well outside the box. It’s well over the bar, but draws some “ooohs” from the crowd. Not sure why. That one wasn’t even close.
20′ Sagna with the cross from the right flank into the box towards Adebayor. He can’t get squared and Sunderland knock it out for a throw.
19′ Arsenal on the attack as Collins gives it away. Fabregas tries the long range shot, but Gordon easily handles it.
17′ Cisse with the curling shot from outside the box that forces Almunia to make a great save to concede the corner. Whitehead whips it in and Gallas heads it away. Wenger breathes a sigh of relief as Gallas actually prevents a goal on a corner instead of giving one away.
16′ Chimbonda with the takeaway and he makes a great run towards the box. He gets dispossessed and Arsenal break back the other way. Arsenal have been very sloppy with the ball today.
15′ Cisse has a great chance as Walcott gives it away on the back pass. Cisse has a golden chance to score, but Almunia makes the great save. Those accolades for Walcott would have come to a screeching halt if Cisse had scored there. Really bad play by Theo right there.
14′ Yorke plays it long to Richardson, but it’s too long and Clichy gets to it first. Back the other way and Malbranque gets called for a foul on Song.
12′ Denilson tries the long-range shot, but Richardson deflects it out for a corner. Van Persie plays it short and Fabregas sends it into the box for Song. Song gets the free release, but he heads it well over the bar. Probably should have done better with that one.
11′ Gallas is back on the pitch, so it looks like he’s okay. Sagna with the deep cross into the box and Chimbonda heads it away for a throw.
9′ Gallas looks like he’s getting treated on the sidelines. Whitehead gets taken down in the box by Toure and he wants a penalty. No dice, though, as it looks like Toure caught the ball first. Richardson gets it back and sends it to Reid, who tries from long distance. It’s over the bar and out for the goalkick.
8′ Ball is played over the top to Cisse, who gets whistled for being off-sides. On the replay, it’s clear that he wasn’t offsides. That’s a huge blow for Sunderland since he had a clear path to goal.
7′ Clichy with a good takeaway and he sends it to Adebayor on the right flank. Adebayor gives it to Van Persie, who tries to cross it into the box. Unfortunately for him, none of his teammates are close to it and it’s a bad giveaway from Van Persie.
5′ Cisse tries the cross from outside the box, but it’s easily handled by Almunia. Bad giveaway from Almunia and Reid has it on the edge of the box. His cross is off target and Arsenal clear it away. Jens Lehmann would have just kicked that one right to Reid and given them the goal.
4′ Van Persie steals if from Ferdinand and tries to cross into the box. It’s deflected and easily handled by Gordon.
1′ Sunderland kicks off and here we go! Arsenal on the attack early. But Richardson dispossess Fabregas. Fab fouls Richardson and not surprisingly, takes exception to the call.
0′ Too bad Bendtner isn’t starting with Adebayor. Nothing was funnier than watching the two of them awkwardly congratulate each other after one of them scored a goal last season. There was one match where Bendtner got fouled badly and the cameras caught Adebayor smiling. If anyone knows what match this was, feel free to put it in the comments.
0′ Setanta is showing a Roy Keane montage from his playing days up until he was named manager. Brings a tear to my eye. Especially when he tells Patrick Vieira that he’ll see him out on the pitch. Good times…
0′ Other than Manchester United, I watched more Arsenal matches than any other club this past year. I can say that when they are firing on all cylinders, there are very few teams that can beat them. That being said, this team has some pretty big flaws (starting with the guy wearing the armband). If Sunderland gets a lot of corners in this match, you can bet that Arsene Wenger will be sweating bullets.
0′ Should be an interesting test for both teams. Sunderland want to show that they belong in the top half of the table while Arsenal want to prove that they don’t play down to their competition.
0′ Hello all and welcome to Soccerlens’ coverage of Sunderland v. Arsenal. As always, I’m Victor and I’ll be bringing you the action live!
After a forgettable 85 minutes, things really picked up after Leadbitter’s shot beat Almunia from long-range. Arsenal looked like they were going to slump to their second-straight league defeat, but they pulled out the last-minute equalizer and managed to escape with a point. Sunderland played well and probably deserved the win, but good teams manage to pull out good results when they need it, and Arsenal really showed what they’re made of. Neither manager will be particularly happy with this result, but Arsenal will take the point, which should keep the heat off them for at least another week. Keane will be upset that his team couldn’t hold onto the win, but he should be proud of his team’s effort.
Man of the Match
It was a good team effort from Sunderland as Richardson and Malbranque did great work on both sides of the ball (although Richardson was at fault for Fabregas’ goal) and Yorke showed that he can imitate Roy Keane if need be. Reid was the unsung hero up front as Cisse showed that, while he has world-class talent, he can be extremely inconsistent. As for Arsenal, it’s hard to commend any of them for their play today. Other than scoring the goal, Fabregas was very sloppy today and really wasn’t much of a factor. Van Persie, Walcott, Denilson, and Song didn’t play well. The defense did an okay job, but Sagna and Clichy were just as sloppy as their brethren when they came forward. Adebayor had a decent game as he was the only consistent threat and Almunia saved Arsenal from being down 1-0 at halftime. Whitehead gets the nod for his excellent all-around play and his leadership from midfield. If Sunderland’s midfield plays this way the rest of the season, then they’ll be in good shape.