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September 14, 2013
• Stadium of Light, Sunderland
Referee: M. Atkinson
• Attendance: 39055
C. Gardner 48'
O. Giroud 11'
A. Ramsey 67', 76'
It's been a pleasure folks, bye for now.
A Giroud goal, and two quality second half strikes from the increasingly irreplaceable Ramsay has seen the Gunners past Sunderland, who have a Graig Gardner penalty as slim consolation. The visitors were pushed to their limits in the second period by the spirited Black Cats, who have a bone to pick with the officials after a controversial disallowed goal from Altidore. They've now only taken one point from their opening four games, while Arsenal have now won three on the trot after losing their season opener.
90' + 5'
And that's it, Arsenal make it through!
90' + 4'
Altidore is in a footrace with Szczesny for a loose ball, he pokes the ball past the keeper before he is taken out, but the flag is up on the far side.
90' + 2'
90' + 2'
Di Canio has been ordered off the touchline by Atkinson after giving the officials an absolute mouthful on the side, presumably venting his frustration at the Altidore incident earlier in the half. An ignominious end to the game for the hosts.
90' + 1'
Giroud has stayed down and is only now being helped gingerly back to his feet. Arsenal fans must be hoping that this is not serious, because not only has the striker been in fine form, but the Gunners do not have much in reserve up front. Ah well, Nicklas Bendtner anyone?
Ramsey does extremely well to escape down the right past two markers and tee up Giroud inside the six yard box. But the Frenchman shanks it, and to add injury to insult, has hurt himself doing so.
Colback takes down a good pass from Johnson, and tees up Wickham, who squeezes in a low shot that is smothered by Szczesny.
On comes Monreal for Walcott, who has to be disappointed with what he put on show today. Could have easily had a hat-trick after spurning four great chances.
Jenkinson goes streaming down the right on the break, but with Giroud in support, doe not get his head up, making his resulting cross catching practice for Westwood.
Borini has some work to do after bringing down Johnson's ball, but cannot cut inside his marker properly and rushes his shot, giving the defence an easy block.
The sting just about taken out of this game, and it's looking like Arsenal will take three points back to London. Hard won points they were too, against a Sunderland side who showed a lot in the second half.
And Altidore gets his head to Johnson's corner, but plants it just off the top corner!
Borini wins a corner after his shot was closed down well by Flamini.
Fletcher has already departed for Wickham, and it looks like Arsenal captain Vermaelen will make his return from injury, replacing Ozil for his first game of the season. An excellent debut for the German.
Tough, tough break for Sunderland, who bossed the majority of the second half, and will feel a good degree of injustice after a few disallowed goals at crucial moments, particularly Altidore's chance.
Assist Olivier Giroud
Goal Aaron Ramsey
FABULOUS, MAGNIFICENT FOOTBALL! Another deadly triangle from the visitors. Ramsey starts the move, passing to Ozil, who quickly slips into Giroud. The Frenchman does not waste any time, flicking the ball with his first touch right into the path of Ramsey, who had continued his run into the box, and buries the finish!
Now Wenger is inflamed as a surefire corner is instead awarded as a Sunderland goalkick with the supposed last touch against Jenkinson. Not quite the same as missing out on a goal, mind, but there you go.
More danger from the visitors as Gardner drills a cross towards the far post, but there is no one there to snap it up. Arsenal are still right in the fire here!
Sagna eventually booked for that incident as Gardner misses the resulting free kick. Sunderland have every right to be furious, as Altidore had the ball in the back of the net despite Sagna's illegal intervention. In normal circumstances the referee should have played the advantage there, no question.
Yellow Card Bacary Sagna
CONTROVERSY! Sunderland are absolutely livid as Altidore bulldozes past Sagna and slips a deft shot past Szczesny into the back of the net, but the referee rules it out for a foul committed on the striker by Sagna just outside the box! Why Martin Atkinson did not play advantage there only he knows, the hosts have gone from a goal to a free-kick for no good reason.
Well that little spell of pressure at the edge of the Sunderland box has paid off dividends for Arsenal, but it took a real moment of quality to break the hosts down.
Assist Carl Jenkinson
Goal Aaron Ramsey
Excellent strike from the Welsh midfielder, taking a deft ball from Jenkinson full on the volley, and through sheer power, plowing his shot right through Westwood from the edge of the box!
Ozil and Walcott combine well on the right, and the forward flashes a ball into the six yard box, but no takers.
It's just not happening for Arsenal. Everyone seems reluctant to shoot, as a potentially deadly attack on the edge of the box is eventually crowded out.
Another Sunderland chance as the increasingly dominant Johnson flashes a shot just across the face of goal, narrowly missing the far post.
Whatever Di Canio said at half time has clearly worked. They have Arsenal well and truly on the ropes here.
ANOTHER BAILOUT OFFSIDE CALL FOR ARSENAL! An outstanding ball into the area from Craig Gardner's set piece evades all heads and smacks right inside the far post! Sunderland fans were screaming for a goal as Ki just misses the tap in, but the flag is up! Looked a legit play to me, my only thought is that the linesman detected a touch on the free-kick before it hit the woodwork.
Yellow Card Mathieu Flamini
RULED OUT! Johnson turns Gibbs inside out and squares across the face of goal. In comes Fletcher for the tap-in ahead of Jenkinson, but he's at least a yard ahead. Offside call, and relief for Gibbs, who was beaten soundly in that play.
Sunderland frustrating Arsenal at one end of the pitch, and looking the more likely to strike gold at the other end. Arsenal are rattled.
Ramsey loses out to Diakite, who sees his name in the headlines for just one second, and goes charging through the middle. He predictably overruns it though, and Flamini recovers.
The Black Cats really have a spring in their step, but they have to be careful, as Walcott breaks down the right and squares to Ozil at the top of the box, where Roberge just manages to make the block, bobbling it through the Westwood.
Arsenal getting a little to intricate around the Sunderland box. Gibbs passes up a great shooting chance, instead passing into Ozil, who loses the ball. Sunderland are immediately on the break, and only a Koscielny block prevents Johnson from getting through.
The fans are fully behind Sunderland now, the Stadium of Light is rocking. Now are we going to see that infamous mental strength and top, top quality come through for Arsenal?
Yellow Card Craig Gardner
Wenger is surely secretly fuming at the fact that his team has been pegged back. No doubt that he saw that one as harsh on Koscielny, if he saw it at all. And after all the first half promise, all the chances wasted by Walcott, it stands at 1-1.
Penalty Goal Craig Gardner
NO DOUBT ABOUT IT! Gardner, only just on as a sub, buries it into the bottom left corner, sending Szczesny the wrong way.
Oh dear, it's Koscielny going through Adam Johnson trying to get the ball inside the area. Reminiscent of his actions against Benteke in the first game of the season.
PENALTY TO SUNDERLAND!
Incidentally, Diakite was spotted pulling an Andre Santos at half time, trying to snare the shirt of Ozil. And by some accounts, he was not the only Sunderland player. Bet Di Canio liked that.
Here we go again!
Olivier Giroud's first EPL goal for Arsenal outside of London has given the Gunners a comfortable lead at the break. Mesut Ozil has had a delightful debut so far, showing all the creative qualities that you would expect of the German, and were it not for the profligacy of Walcott/excellence of Westwood, the visitors could well be out of sight. The Black Cats have threatened intermittently from set pieces and crosses, which looks the best route back into the game for them. They have to step it up massively in the second half though, which I hope you join me for in a bit.
45' + 2'
Half time folks.
45' + 1'
Walcott denied again! Diakite plays him onside on the right side, but with a man in the middle, he squeezes a shot at goal that is denied but Westwood at his near post! Ozil's follow up is also blocked.
One minute of stoppage time left.
Walcott should do better! Giroud and WIlshere combine beautifully, and the latter clips a ball over the defence to find Walcott unmarked at the far post. He takes it first time one his head, but plants it into the side netting.
Ozil goes down under Ki's challenge, and clutches the ball waiting for the referee's whistle, which duly arrives. In hindsight, not a bad free-kick for the midfielder to concede, given Ozil's potency on the break.
Walcott's corner is met by Giroud, but without any sort of conviction, and it's flicked on to no one in particular.
...but he goes short to Gibbs, and after a brief passing routine, the ball is played all the way back to the nonplussed Szczesny. A few groans from the visiting fans at the lack of ambition on that play.
Gibbs wins a corner against Celustka, across comes Ozil once more...
Arsenal just taking the foot off the gas as the first half enters its final lap. Sunderland don't seem in any hurry to press them off the ball, and the Gunners are quite happy to take advantage of that and keep hold of the ball in safe areas.
The influence of Ozil has been palpable, with his vision and geometric passing opening up avenues all over for Arsenal. An accomplished debut so far, reminiscent of the creativity shown by Santi Cazorla during his bow 11 months ago, which incidentally was also against Sunderland in a 0-0 draw. Better fortunes this time around for the Gunners though.
Ozil with another lovely pass forward to Wilshere, giving the England man a good run on goal, but he's barged off the ball by Roberge, legally mind you.
Good ball into the box from Mavrias, which Altidore curiously opts against attacking, giving Szczesny a catch that was more comfortable than it should have been.
Wilshere deftly releases Ozil, who sprints through the centre and puts Walcott through again. A bit of a tighter angle this time but same result - Westwood ashes off his line expertly to make another fine save.
A potentially dangerous free-kick just outside the box is taken by Ozil, who gets it over the wall, but cannot generate near enough power or unpredictability to beat Westwood. The keeper saw that all the way.
Arsenal completely comfortable at the Stadium of Light. The natives are getting a bit testy as the visitors continue to dominate the ball. Still only a goal in it though.
Steven Fletcher is down after a tussle with Sagna. He looks okay though, back on his feet relatively quickly .
Again on that left hand side Arsenal attack, this time Ozil and Wilshere linking well, but the latter's pass is just over-hit towards Gibbs on the overlap. Goalkick.
Excellent little triangle between Wilshere, Gibbs and Ramsey, as the fullback picks out his Welsh teammate inside the area, but he's caught between a shot and a cutback, and ends up slamming it right into Roberge.
Altidore does well to turn and squeeze a shot in from distance, and the movement on the ball confuses Szczesny for a second, but the Pole just about manages to parry! Hint of a deflection on that shot, but a needed positive sign for Sunderland.
That really should have been 2-0, Walcott having all the time in the world to line that one up. Huge credit must go to Ozil for that pass though, and also to Westwood, who pulled off a very vital save.
WESTWOOD MAKES THE SAVE! Ozil is already stamping his influence all over this Arsenal side, with a delightful early ball for Walcott, who is completely in the clear, but cannot pick his spot and the keeper blocks!
So very close for Sunderland! Again they cause problems in the air, as Diakite beats Giroud to a corner, planting a header onto the crossbar with Szczesny beaten!
Assist Mesut Özil
Goal Olivier Giroud
It's in from Giroud! A classic counter attack from Arsenal, a long ball over the top picking out that man Ozil perfectly on the left flank, who swiftly arrows in a peach of a low cross that is stabbed home confidently by the French striker!
Not much of note in an attacking sense from Sunderland, as the Gunners have had most of the ball so far. But they do look dangerous on the break, as evidenced by their lone chance, so don't count them out for one second.
With the abscence of Cazorla, who can play through the middle or on the left, it will be really interesting to see how Ozil lines up in the Arsenal XI. Ostensibly he has began on the left flank, but has already been spotted drifting onto the opposite side, with Wilshere looking to fill the resulting gaps.
First real glimpse of Ozil as he prepares to take an Arsenal corner, but his delivery cannot make it past the head of Diakite. Good defending.
Uncertainty in the Arsenal ranks! The ball comes in, and looks to be routine stuff for Jenkinson to deal with. But he hashes the clearance, heading it straight into the air, and Altidore nearly pounces to tee up a chance for Steven Fletcher on a plate.
Wilshere advancing menacingly through the middle. Sunderland's players are very reluctant to make a challenge, but the Arsenal man overruns it and ends up losing the ball just inside the area.
Sunderland, with ony one point for their opening three games, are not exactly flying high, and last beat Arsenal in 2009 thanks to a Darren Bent goal. Arsenal have seemingly shaken off that opening day collapse against Aston Villa, winning their last four games in all compeitions.
Meanwhile, for the home side, Paolo Di Canio has handed a place in the XI to midfield signing Ki Sung-Yueng, who was swiped from Swansea in a loan deal on the last day of August. Steven Fletcher, with his goalscoring exploits against Crystal Palace still fresh in the memory, is also granted a start, his first in six months. He will do the heavy lifting up front with Jozy Altidore.
Ozil starts for Arsenal. That much has dominated the pre-match news. Gunners fans will get a chance to see their record signing right away. Interestingly, with Santi Cazorla missing the trip to Wearside, it looks like the German will line up on the left flank, with Flamini, Ramsey and Wilshere filling out the midfield three. Per Mertesacker is also absent, so Bacary Sagna is drafted in at centre-back, with Carl Jenkinson starting on the right side of the defence.
Sunderland: Westwood; Celustka, Colback, Roberge, Diakite; Vaughan, Mavrias, Ki, Johnson; Fletcher, Altidore. SUBS: Mannone, Brown, Cuellar, Larsson, Gardner, Wickham, Borini.
Arsenal: Szczesny; Jenkinson, Sagna, Koscielny, Gibbs; Flamini, Ramsey, Wilshere; Ozil, Walcott, Giroud. SUBS: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Monreal, Frimpong, Ryo, Gnabry, Akpom.
First, the teams.
Welcome to the Stadium of Light, and welcome back to the EPL, for the clash between Sunderland and Arsenal. I'm Keeghann Sinanan, bringing you the play-by-play.
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