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England - FA Cup
February 18, 2012
• Stadium of Light, Sunderland
Referee: H. Webb
• Attendance: 26042
There is the full time whistle and Sunderland go into the quarter finals of the FA Cup for the first time since 2004 and they have left the Gunners players disconsolate on the pitch here at the Stadium of Light. Goals from Richardson and an unfortunate Oxlade-Chamberlain were enough to see off the Gunners as the pressure mounts on beleaguered boss Arsene Wenger.
90' + 1'
To their credit the Arsenal fans have stuck around to support their team but their voice is non-existent. Martin O'Neill's team have lost just three times since taking over as Sunderland boss and he does just have the Midas touch.
The home fans are in fine voice as you might expect and their party may well go into the night while Arsenal are left to ponder another trophy-less season on the long trip home to north London.
Just a few minutes to go and Sunderland remain the most potent attacking threat. This time Sessegnon breaks free on the right hand side before crossing for McClean along the six yard line but Sagna does excellently to get back and tackle.
Finally a chance for Arsenal as Rosciky finds a penetrating run towards the area before passing for van Persie in the area but he gets his body into a twist and hits it over the bar from ten yards out.
Sunderland go close again, this time it's Turner who just can't get his head on the ball with the goal gaping. A free kick from Larsson is headed straight for the central defender as Fabianski flapped and missed but he couldn't get the necessary contact.
This has been a pretty abject display from Arsenal, especially in the second half, and it would be hard to argue that Sunderland don't deserve this victory. Where do Arsenal and Wenger go from here? Once again a game provides more questions than answers.
Yellow Card Lee Cattermole
Own Goal Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
GOOOOAAAALLLLL!!!! Game, set and match for Sunderland here as they catch Arsenal out on the break. Oxlade-Chamberlain was swarmed upon on the right hand side and the home team traveled forward with great purpose through Sessegnon. The striker eased off the challenge of Arteta and then passes the ball out to the right to Larsson whose shot off the post is bundled over the line by Oxlade-Chamberlain. A miserable week is just getting worse here.
Yellow Card Craig Gardner
Wenger complains on the sideline and he is struggling more and more to come to terms with his team one again falling apart. Something special is needed and this time they don't have Thierry Henry to come on and change the game. Vermaelen goes close with a header but it was saved easily by Mignolet.
It's hard to describe how well Sunderland have defended and pressured Arsenal today. Martin O'Neill must be thinking of changes soon because his team have given absolutely everything.
The two substitutes for Arsenal have had very little effect on this game thus far. Gardner and Sessegnon have been very impressive for the home side though and at present the Gunners looking like they're losing their last chance at silverware this season.
The game is becoming increasingly stretched as Arsenal seek the equaliser, can certainly see at least one more goal though not sure who looks the more likely right now.
Fairly valid shouts for a penalty by Arsenal but nothing doing. The ball is played in towards the Gunners skipper van Persie but he can't challenge as Turner has his hands all over the Dutchman. van Persie just has a free kick skewed wide by Gardner also.
Yellow Card Sebastian Larsson
For the first time this half Arsenal enjoy a brief spell of possession but it isn't having any bearing on the result just yet. Sunderland continue to chase down the ball at every opportunity, they have defended fantastically.
Arsenal just can't get a grip on the game now as they begin to look a little sorry for themselves. Keeping the ball is not a problem for the home side anymore who are rampant, though clear cut chances are not forthcoming just yet.
Yellow Card Thomas Vermaelen
This game is really Sunderland's for the taking now as the number of changes they have been forced into has made their performance in this half pretty disjointed.
It is in fact a third injury that means Walcott is coming on as Squillaci limps off also. Song moves back to centre half for the third different central defensive partnership of the game.
Ramsey gives a signal to the bench can't continue and Rosicky is stripping off for action. Walcott is also being readied so Wenger going for the jugular. Here we go!
Theo Walcott was warming up vociferously at half time and he continuing this on the sideline now. I wonder how long it will be until Wemger shows his hand.
Sunderland start the half brightly and another needless free kick is given away by Arsenal. Perfect opportunity for Larsson but luckily for the away fans it is just over the bar.
Yellow Card Bacary Sagna
Teams unchanged and here we go again...
Right then, just a couple of moments away from the beginning of the second half and Arsenal are in danger seeing their season disintegrating in a matter of days - not unlike the way in which it did last year.
There is the half time whistle and the home fans will be far the happier. Arsenal have huffed and puffed but haven't been able to blow any houses down and it is Sunderland that lead through a deflected Kieran Richardson strike.
45' + 1'
Just a couple of minutes here for Arsenal to play out before getting into the changing rooms at half time for a much-needed breather. One hell of an important 45 minutes coming up for Arsenal's season.
The Gunners are really on the ropes here and James McClean goes close to making it 2-0. They get the ball out wide to Larsson whose deep ball is flicked back into the area by Colback and Fabianski does just enough to ensure McClean strikes into the side netting.
Goal Kieran Richardson
GOOOOAAAALLLL!!! Richardson has scored a goal out of absolutely nothing. Djourou gives away a needless free kick on the left hand side, which Larsson whips in. The set piece was headed away but Richardson on the edge of the area struck the ball towards goal on the volley that takes a snick off Squillaci on the way through to give Fabianski no chance.
Yellow Card Johan Djourou
Arsenal controlling possession now, but as I've said before Sunderland are making it very difficult for the visitors to pick out a penetrative pass. Sessegnon starting to cut an isolated figure up front.
You have to admire the way that Sunderland are making it very difficult for Arsenal to play in space. They are hustling and harrying the Gunners midfielders at every opportunity.
Ooooo very interesting. Song plays a great ball to breach the Sunderland defence and just as van Persie is about to pull the trigger O'Shea comes across to challenge the Dutchman. Calls for a penalty but not given and replays suggest it was a good decision as the defender just got his toe to the ball before the Arsenal man.
Hurrah! We have a decent opening and it is Arsenal's Gervinho who is on the end of it. van Persie plays a delightful through ball for the winger who does just enough to hold off Phil Bardsley before striking towards goal but Simon Mignolet did well to tip it over.
Once again, all I can say is that both teams are trying to attack but appear to lack the necessary quality in the final third. Arteta's free kick in the opening minutes and Sessegnon the only chances as of yet.
Plenty of desire and commitment from both teams pushing forward but right now there is a dearth of quality to break either side down. Sessegnon is increasingly getting on the ball though and he is looking dangerous when linking up with the ever-impressive James McClean.
Finally a sustained block of possession once again for Arsenal but they must play with greater pace if they want to penetrate the Sunderland defence. The home side's midfield is proving difficult to break down and chances are at a premium here.
Alex Song the latest player to go down holding an injured part of the body. This is just getting silly now. Sunderland though seemingly sensing something might give soon as Arsenal look increasingly uncomfortable.
Ramsey is staying on the pitch for now although he is still moving around rather gingerly. The game is quite tight now as the injuries appear to have halted the away side's progress.
Sunderland have their first chance of note as Sessegnon receives the ball just outside the area and turns before striking just a couple of yards wide of the far post. Aaron Ramsey is now struggling with an ankle injury as things get even worse for Arsenal.
So, another defensive shake up for Arsenal after Laurent Koscielny was forced off with a knee injury in midweek. Vermaelen comes back to left back just a week or so after he stated his displeasure for playing the position. Sunderland have come back into the game in the meantime and they will be encouraged to see Squillaci back in the defence as he has found the going tough in England since his move from Sevilla at the beginning of last season.
Arsenal defensive woes just seem to worsen by the week as youngster Francis Coquelin is forced to come off with - what looks like - a nasty hamstring injury. He took the place of Kieran Gibbs in the team already and now Sebastian Squillaci comes off for his first action since January 9th.
Sunderland just can't get on the ball here and it takes a foul from Craig Gardner to give the home team some respite. Luckily for him the free kick from 25 yards went just wide of the left hand post. The Black Cats need to get a grip here.
Bright start from the visitors eager to impress, as you might expect. Plenty of possession and playing with some pace but the Gunners will need to be patient against this five-man midfield.
Arsenal get the game underway in front of 4,000 away fans and a suspicious amount of empty seats in among the home section. The away supporters are in fine voice already.
Arsenal looked to be a team very much in the ascendency after their victory over Sunderland but their chastening defeat in midweek is likely to have a large bearing on the team's performance. Theo Walcott drops to the bench to be replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, while Francis Coquelin, Johan Djourou, Gervinho and Lukasz Fabianski all come into the starting line up. They take places of Kieran Gibbs - who is out the squad completely - the injured Laurent Koscielny, Tomas Rosicky and Wojciech Szczesny.
The Black Cats haven't played since their 2-1 defeat in the league to Arsenal earlier this month and should be well rested. Martin O'Neill has made one change with the combative Lee Cattermole coming into the team instead of Fraizer Campbell, perhaps with an eye on packing the midfield after being outplayed against by the visitors last time out.
Arsenal line-up: Fabianski; Sagna, Djourou, Vermaelen, Coquelin; Song, Arteta, Ramsey; Oxlade-Chamberlain Gervinho, Van Persie. Subs: Szcezesny, Rosicky, Walcott, Squillaci, Arshavin, Chamakh, Benayoun.
Sunderland line-up: Mignolet; Bardsley, Turner, O'Shea, Richardson; Larsson, Colback, Cattermole,Gardner, McClean; Sessegnon Subs: Westwood, Elmohamady, Meyler, Bridge, Kyrgiakos, Ji, Campbell.
Good evening everyone and a very warm welcome to all of you joining us for Goal.com's live commentary of Arsenal's FA Cup visit to Sunderland. Sunderland's resurgence under Martin O'Neill continues here as they try to make it through to the quarter finals while the Gunners try and put Wednesday's horror performance against AC Milan behind them.
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