Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sunderland 1 - Arsenal 1

The Gunners took the lead in the first half on a fluke goal by Cesc Fabregas, who deflected an attempted clearance by a Sunderland defender high into the air, over the head of the Sunderland keeper, and into the back of the net. Unfortunately, Fabregas tweaked a hammy on the goal, and had to be substituted. A dogged and determined Sunderland side played the Gunners pretty even for the rest of the half.

In the second half, Arsenal were the dominant side, but after Alex Song was sent off for a second yellow card (the first one he picked up in the first half was dubious), the Gunners were somewhat on the defensive. Nevertheless, the game should have been done and dusted after Arsenal earned a penalty kick, but Tomas Rosicky sent a rocket over the crossbar and into the stands. Sunderland ultimately tied the game on nearly its last kick deep into (or, more accurately, beyond) injury time, as Darren Bent scored from a long cross at close range.

It was a disappointing performance from an Arsenal side that dominated Portugese side Braga 6-0 in a Champion's League match earlier in the week. Andrei Arshavin once again squandered a number of good chances, and after Fabregas was substituted the Gunners lost their cutting edge. Samir Nasri worked hard to fill in for Arsenal's talisman, and Marouane Chamakh provided a good target up front, but the incisive pass always seemed to be missing.

The bottom line: Two precious points dropped at the death.

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