Gunners fire blanks at Black Cats
Written By: Robert Halter
Arsenal kicked off their 2012/13 Premier League campaign with the loss of their influential captain and top goal scorer last season, Robin Van Persie, following his £24 million pounds transfer to Manchester United, with the arm band going to Thomas Vermaelen and Mikel Arteta appointed vice captain, ahead of the Gunners home clash against Sunderland, with the Black Cats going twenty eight years without a league win at Arsenal. Boosted by a trio of European recruits, Santi Cazorla, Oliver Giroud and Lukas Podolski to add fire power in the Gunners attack, Jack Wilshere was given Van Persie’s number ten shirt, when he returned from injury. In the opening five minutes, Wojciech Szczesny was forced into a close range block to stop James McClean converting a through ball from Kieran Richardson, before it was the turn of Simon Mignolet in the opposing end to produce an acrobatic tip over from Cazorla’s long range blast. On fourteen minutes, Sunderland pressed again, after a neat lay off by Stephane Sessegnon which was met by a low drive from Jack Colback that was dealt with comfortably by Szczesny. Another chance fell Cazorla’s way, five minutes later, but the Spanish playmaker spurned the opportunity, putting the ball wide from Gervinho’s cross in. Midway through the first half, Podolski was unable to apply the finishing touch from Carl Jenkinson’s cross and after a goal mouth scramble, the ball was put behind for a corner by Craig Gardner. On just under the half hour mark, Abou Diaby’s low struck effort produced a full length dive by Mignolet, to turn the ball away from his right hand post, as the Gunners threatened again. Towards the end of the first half, Colback put a shot into the side netting before Arsenal reacted up field as Theo Walcott’s cross found Podolski but he was unable to find a way through the Sunderland defence. On fifty nine minutes, Podolski floated a free kick over the top, following a foul by Richardson on Walcott. After a weaving run by Gervinho, the ball broke to Cazorla, whose low strike went wide of the left post, two minutes later. Another Gunners chance went begging, as Walcott struck his shot against the right side netting from a Kieran Gibbs cross. In the eighty second minute, Giroud was guilty of a glaring miss as he blazed the ball wide of the target, after Cazorla had opened up the Black Cats defence. It was to prove costly as Arsenal had to settle for a point on the opening day, after the Sunderland resistance had given them a creditable draw at the Emirates Stadium.