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Sunderland vs. Arsenal Player Ratings
Arsenal traveled back up north to take on the Black Cats in the freezing northern rain. Arsenal appeared lucky to pull a draw due to the collectively poor performance, yet, on the other hand, unlucky not to win the match seeing as how Robin van Persie’s goal was wrongfully disallowed. Yet in the end Arsenal’s true captain was able to salvage a point after Sunderland took a late lead through a stunning 86th minute strike from Grant Leadbitter just two minutes after he came on.
Almunia: 7 Solid enough from Manny. He made a few great saves and came off of his line when needed. One has to feel bad for Almunia who really hasn’t done much wrong this season but seems to be getting the short end of the luck stick (not to mention the short end of Gallas’ defending).
Clichy: 7 Solid defensively but appeared to have no urgency going forward in the first half. Picked it up a bit in the second but overall disappointing going forward. It is in games like this when Arsenal’s fullback needs to show some urgency and pick up the tempo when building from the back.
Toure: 7.5 Solid defending from Kolo. He made one fantastic tackle in the box in the first half to prevent what very easily could have been the opening door for Sunderland.
Gallas: 7 Typical of Gallas, he regularly pressed forward into the opposing team’s half especially in the latter stages. Previously this has been a bit of an issue but with attacking urgency lacking it actually helped a bit. Still, it’s worrying when your center back regularly tries to be an offensive hero. If he really wants to be a hero for Arsenal then he should worry more about keeping clean sheets.
Sagna: 7.5 Linked up well with Walcott and got forward more than Clichy did. He did get caught out in defense when he shifted into the middle but, luckily for the team, he didn’t get punished. Other than that one mistake Sagna was as good as ever.
Walcott: 7 Theo struggled to really get into the match and stay into it. He made some nice runs but failed to be consistent throughout the match. He made one great run to set up what should have been the opener but was unlucky to have his assist called back. He showed great presence of mind and his growing maturity in decision making by delivering that ball perfectly in the path of van Persie’s near-post run while under pressure.
Fabregas: 7.5 Even in a game when Fabregas failed to really become the dominating force he still managed to contribute immensely. His late equalizer epitomizes everything that the young Spaniard has become to the club. He drives us even when we are down and he shows unwavering commitment and passion towards the club, his teammates, and the supporters especially when the chips are down. The fact that the 5’8″ Fabregas was able to squeeze in and head home the equalizer in the dying minutes just goes to show how much the young man cares about winning and about the club and just goes once again to show who our true captain is.
Song: 8 I thought Alex was fantastic. He made some nice defense-splitting balls in the final third and provided some much needed defensive steel to the midfield. He hustled all game long and looked great with his ball distribution. Alex has looked great all season long whenever he has been played and in my opinion he has certainly made a case for why he should be given his shot in the middle of the pitch along side Cesc.
Denilson: 7 Not really a super impressive performance. He was OK in passing and distribution but didn’t seem to play with too much urgency. To his credit he did however put a few shots in when it seemed like no one else could be bothered to go for goal. On a side note, the Actim Index has Denilson currently ranked fourth in the entire league ahead of other hot starters Shaun Wright-Phillips, Deco, and Jermaine Defoe.
van Persie: 7.5 Showed some good skill on the ball but was unable to make a breakthrough. Much of that I would attribute to the Dutchman being pushed out wide due to Arsene’s defense-minded formation. He was able to eventually make a difference, however he was unlucky to have his goal called back off of a horrible decision from the linesman.
Adebayor: 6.5 Looked good in possession but for whatever reason rarely looked to shoot. There was one time in the second half when he was played through in the box and had enough space to put in a shot but just passed it back to Sagna. Ade certainly contributes to the team but perhaps it is time to give him a rest and give Bendtner a chance.
Bendtner: 7.5 I thought Nick looked quite good. He linked up well with everyone on the pitch and played through some nice balls. If Nick keeps up his good performances then he will certainly push closer and closer to a spot in the starting XI.
Nasri: 7.5 Linked up well and made some decisive runs and passes. He was one of the few to venutre into the box after runs and he even put in a shot, albeit a weak one. At the end of the game I was left wondering why Nasri had not started over Denilson or at least why he was not brought on sooner.
Vela: N/A Vela was not on long enough to really be judged. Also should have been brought on sooner.
Man of the Match: Fabregas proved exactly why he should be the captain of this great club. On the day, he was, along with the rest of the team, mediocre. He did not dominate the midfield the way he should have but, at the end of the day and despite the poor performance, he made all the difference. The Spaniard’s commitment and sheer will drove him towards the corner delievered by van Persie to net the Arsenal equalizer with his first ever goal scored for the club from a header. His drive and passion are unparalleled and it was no surprise that the Arsenal breakthrough came from Cesc, the true leader and driving force behind this club.