Fair point + Conceding late goals
I am probably the only one feeling like this but, unlike usual, I am in no anger nor grief over today’s result.
Why? For most of the match, I was watching in panic as Sunderland dominated, with the half-time possession stat reading a brutal 65% to 35% lead. Last time I witnessed that scenario was when Barcelona visited the Emirates.
We had made absolutely zero attempts to score and had it not been a goal so fortuitous, we may not witness anything similar for seasons, this game would have been delicately poised at 0-0 with the hosts the more likely to triumph (shades of last year’s corresponding fixture).
Therefore, it felt like a match we had lost, or would lose, but somehow we were 1-0 ahead. So Bent’s equalizer, while very late and bitter, felt inevitable.
I am also not feeling aggrieved about the result because it was a scarcely resolute defensive display from the team. Everyone at the back was nearly impeccable with Koscielny showing his best yet.
With the way we hardly ever responded to Sunderland’s pressure with any threatening of our own, they could have easily outscored us with better finishing and a more generous Arsenal defense.
We had been so solid at the back that Bent’s goal – with the last meaningful kick of the game – was the first time our defense had been cut open. It was the first time Almunia was neither catching with aplomb or watching the ball fly wide. It was also the first time Koscielny and company were scrambling for the ball instead of clearing with confidence.
I am rarely one of those stubbornly optimistic gooners, and unlike some, I am yet to predict whether we will contend/win the title or not because it is too early, but somehow, I felt today’s result was a point gained.
It could have been better, but boy was this a good result.
Since their return to the top flight in 2007, very rarely have Sunderland been dispatched at the Stadium of Light, and Roberto Mancini would have bitten your hand off for such a result three weeks ago. Like Craven Cottage, not many teams will escape without a run for their money there, trust me.
I had jitters once I realized after the Bolton game that Sunderland was up next in the Premier League. While we were playing Braga, I was thinking of Bruce’s men and I was telling someone only yesterday that a draw would be fine.
Also, on evidence of ESPN and BBC’s pre-match predictions of a draw, even the neutrals were aware this was no straight-forward task for us and perhaps an upset in the making if we failed to take an early advantage.
I know there are still those who are frustrated because of our lingering habit of conceding late goals. But even that is just a taste of our own medicine, considering how many points we have rescued over the years from strikes right at the death.
United at Fulham and Everton recently proved that no one is immune to late concessions. And as far as I can remember, even the much idolized ‘Invincibles’ were victims to some silly draws during that 2003/04 season.
Leicester 1-1 Arsenal (90 mins: Hignett comes off the bench to score a dramatic equaliser for Leicester)
Bolton 1-1 Arsenal (83 mins: Pedersen brilliantly equalises for Bolton)
Everton 1-1 Arsenal (75 mins: Radinski stretches to level for Everton)
It appears as though the tendency to concede late goals has been in the blood way before Wenger’s class of today.
That said, still unbeaten into September after visits to Anfield, Edwood Park and the Stadium of Light is hardly a frustrating return.