Arsenal held to 0-0 draw by Sunderland
Arsenal lacked cutting edge up front in the first game since
Robin van Persie’s exit, drawing 0-0 with Sunderland on Saturday
despite dominating its opening match of the Premier League
Some jeers rang out around Emirates Stadium after the final
whistle, a day after Van Persie completed his move to rival
Manchester United. And after the frustrating draw, Arsenal
announced another key player was leaving, with midfielder Alex Song
joining Barcelona for ?19 million ($23.4 million).
Strikers Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud, who were signed to
fill the void left by Van Persie, squandered their few chances.
”The few chances we had we couldn’t convert them … they
defended the whole game very well,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
said. ”We lacked something I would call sharpness and quality, and
more accuracy in the final pass.
”The formation didn’t work with three strikers up front. We
were not balanced and we did not create enough.”
Despite Arsenal overwhelming Sunderland, Podolski struggled for
service up front as another new signing, midfielder Santi Cazorla,
was more of a danger in front of goal.
”I will not deny we lost a world-class player who is very
difficult to replace,” Wenger said of Van Persie. ”Podolski is
not ready yet physically, he lacks the change of pace … maybe we
needed one more creative player and to be more accurate in the
Wenger’s big task is maintaining morale at the Emirates Stadium
after seeing two more players leave just as they are reaching their
peak, a year after Cesc Fabregas joined Barcelona.
While former captain Van Persie only had one year left on his
Arsenal contract, there was no pressure to sell Song, who had three
”It is frustrating but we have learnt to deal with that,”
Wenger said. ”The financial potential for some clubs is massive
and that makes the difference.”
By signing key players before the season, Wenger hopes to avoid
a repeat of last season’s woeful start, which was Arsenal’s worst
for more than 50 years.
But the hosts left too much space for Sunderland to expose them
on the counterattack early on.
Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was forced into action to deny
James McClean and he had to be alert to repel Jack Colback’s low
But there were promising signs from Arsenal, with Cazorla
looking dangerous in his first competitive match since joining from
The versatile Spaniard saw a rising shot tipped over by Simon
Mignolet after five minutes, and he struck wide in the 20th after
Gervinho did the hard work by powering down the left flank.
”All the chances he created basically,” Wenger said of
Podolski’s best opening came at the end of the first half,
knocking the ball wide in a crowded penalty area after Theo Walcott
burst down the right flank to the byline before teeing up the
Arsenal, though, was in complete control after the break – but
with little to show for it.
A free kick from Podolski flew over the crossbar and his
replacement, Giroud, squandered a golden opening from close range,
sweeping the ball wide after being set up by Cazorla.
”It was a greatly missed opportunity,” Wenger said. ”It is
also frustrating in the game when you have so much possession and
so little points.
”Overall our passing was not quick enough in my opinion – I
don’t think that is necessarily linked with Robin (leaving).”