Arsenal kept their winning streak alive on Saturday at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland with an eventful 3-1 win. Mesut Ozil did what was expected of him in his Gunners and English debut, but it was Welshman Aaron Ramsey who nicked the headlines with his fourth and fifth goals overall this season. There were several exciting and controversial moments throughout the match with the home side suffering from one of the worst decisions of the season so far.
The Gunners got off to an excellent start and seemed to own the ball right from the opening kickoff. It was just a matter of time before they capitalized on their chances and Olivier Giroud slid in his third league goal of the season after Ozil sprinted down the left side of the pitch after collecting a Kieran Gibbs pass. Ozil picked Giroud out with a prefect low cross and the Frenchman just had to guide it past Sunderland keeper Kieren Westwood with his left foot to make it 1-0.
Sunderland almost leveled the score just a few minutes later, but defender Modibo Diakite’s header bounced off the crossbar and out of harm’s way. Theo Walcott had a couple of fine chances to give the Gunners a 2-0 cushion, but couldn’t manage to beat Westwood. The first 45 minutes saw Arsenal dominate the proceedings, but they managed just one goal and that’s how the half ended.
Sunderland looked like a changed team after the break and many fans must have thought the players had changed kits with each other. It took just four minutes of the second half for them to tie the score after Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny missed the ball completely and chopped down Adam Johnson in the 18-yard box. Craig Gardner stepped up to take the penalty kick and hammered it past keeper Wojciech Szczesny.
Sunderland appeared to be in control at this point of the match and Steven Fletcher put the ball in the net in the 59th-minute, but was ruled to be offside. Gardner then rattled the Gunners goalpost just two minutes later from a free kick. Arsenal regained their one-goal lead in the 67th minute when Carl Jenkinson put in a low cross form the right wing and Ramsey smashed it low and hard past Westwood with a superb right-footed volley.
Just three minutes later it looked like Sunderland had made it 2-2 when Jozy Altidore was grabbed by Bacary Sagna, but still managed to beat him and break in alone on the Gunners goal. Altidore slid the ball just over the goal line, but referee Martin Atkinson said he had blown the whistle due to Sagna’s foul and proceeded to give him a yellow card. It was a brutal call since advantage should have been played, but at least the new video technology system got the call right by indicating the ball had crossed the goal line.
The match was put out of Sunderland’s reach in the 76th minute when Ozil and Giroud set up Ramsey for his second of the game. Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio was ejected by Atkinson in injury time after making his feelings known to the fourth official and the match drew to a close. Arsenal were full value for the won, but should have had a few more goals for all of their possession. They could have easily dropped a couple of points if Atkinson had done a better job on the Sagna foul against Altidore.
Captain Thomas Vermaelen made his season debut when he replaced Mesut Ozil in the 80th minute and took over at left back from. It was the Belgian’s first appearance of the campaign due to a back injury. Arsenal now sits in first place in the table with nine points from three wins and a loss. They’re even on points with Liverpool and Spurs with Liverpool playing against Swansea on Monday. Arsenal gained a pair of points on Manchester City as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Stoke and they picked up three on Chelsea as they lost 1-0 at Everton. The Gunners next match is a Champions League fixture against Marseille in France on Wednesday September 18.
Arsenal Player Ratings-Sat. Sept. 14
Sunderland 1-3 Arsenal –Premier League Match 4
Szczesny did all he could and needed to do even though he was a little shaky on a few crosses.
Helped set up the Gunners third goal and didn’t look out of place at all.
Was caught flatfooted by Jozy Altidore and had to hold him back for a deserved yellow card. He was okay overall though, especially in the air.
Not one of his best games. He gave up a needless penalty when lunging in on Adam Johnson and missed the ball. Hast to learn how to stay upright in the box or he’ll be giving penalties away all season long.
A solid game by Gibbs with some excellent passing while on the attack.
A good game by Flamini, solid and steady rather than spectacular.
Another fine effort for the Gunners. Much better than his recent games for England.
This kid is simply on fire and full of confidence. Two great goals and a superb all-round performance.
A fine debut for Arsenal. He set up Giroud’s goal and showed he knows how to play the game. His passing is wonderful and it helped create several chances. Was taken off after 80 minutes for Thomas Vermaelen.
The only problem Walcott had today was his finishing. His speed created some chances, but he couldn’t beat Westwood in goal or he missed the net. Was replaced by Nacho Monreal after 89 minutes.
Giroud continued his fine play and scored another wonderful goal to bring his tally to this season. Came off after 92 minutes and replaced by Akpom.
Came on for Ozil after 80 minutes, but didn’t have an impact on the game.
Came on after 89 minutes for Walcott for some reason.
The youngster got on the pitch for a couple of minutes for his first taste of Premier League football. He replaced Giroud after 92 minutes.