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10/27/2013
 

Sunderland climbed off the bottom of the Premier League table with a 2-1 home win over arch-rivals Newcastle in the north-east derby on Sunday.


The Black Cats' first league win of the season, following seven defeats and a draw, was secured by goals from Steven Fletcher and Fabio Borini and saw manager Gus Poyet enjoy victory in his first match in charge at the Stadium of Light. Mathieu Debuchy equalized for Newcastle and the match was heading to a draw until Borini's brilliant winner from 25 yards out with six minutes left secured victory.


Sunderland's victory was not good enough to take them out of the bottom three and fans of the Wearside club will need no reminding that one of former manager Paolo di Canio's few successes during his tempestuous time in charge was a derby win over Newcastle. But this result at least gave the Black Cats hope of avoiding the drop.


Sunderland, whose chaplain presented a team shirt to Pope Francis just days before the game, were 'blessed' with a goal just five minutes into the match when Fletcher headed in at the far post after an excellent cross from Adam Johnson. Newcastle, however, equalized in the 57th minute when, after Hatem Ben Arfa's shot was allowed to run across the box, right-back Debuchy turned in the loose ball from just four yards out for his first Magpies goal.

 
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02/09/2013
 

Arsenal are often accused of being too soft or too weak mentally to cope up with pressure; but the victory over Sunderland showed otherwise and will silence their critics to an extent.


Arsenal began the match very well and looked sharp in the opening changes. The midfield trio of Arsenal which included the likes of Wilshere, Ramsey and Arteta were too good for Sunderland. The ease with which they linked with each other and the number of chances being created in the early exchanges showed Arsenal’s superiority in that area of the field. Walcott had two good opportunities to get Arsenal ahead, but missed them due to unusually erratic finishing, but Cazorla took his chance very well helping Arsenal to a one goal just before the half time.


As the second half started, things started to change as Sunderland pressed hard for an equalizer but Arsenal stood strong. However an hour in to the match Jenkinson got red carded for a silly challenge after being on a yellow already. This is when Arsenal’s character and resolve got severely tested and they came up trumps.


Arsenal’s makeshift back four which included the CB pairing of Mertesacker and Sagna showed resilience and fight. Sagna was probably Arsenal’s best defender of the day with a gutty defensive display and showing the character Arsenal usually lacks. Even Mertesacker looked assured and handled Steven Fletcher very well overall. Ramsey who was made a makeshift right back after Jenkinson’s dismissal also put in a gutty display and defended admirably for a midfielder. Monreal’s positional sense was good despite two bad moments; but since the Spanish defenders arrival, it looks that he has bought luck to Arsenal's team. Since his arrival Arsenal has stopped conceding goals all of a sudden.


However Wenger will be frustrated with his sides lack of clinical finishing  in front of goal as Theo Walcott and Giroud spurned a number of chances. Especially in the first half, Arsenal had so many opportunities that they could have been out-of Sunderland's sight by half time. Even after going down a man, Arsenal still had good chances to score on the counter but could not due to way-ward finishing. Wenger will still be delighted with the number of chances created but will be hoping of some better finishing by his forward players.


Overall it was gutsy displays by an Arsenal team who is often accused of lacking determination and are often labelled as being mentally weak. It looked as if the Arsenal players took it upon themselves to prove a point today and getting the perfect chance of doing so after the dismissal of Jenkinson. For the first time this season Arsenal defended admirably despite their makeshift defense, put their bodies on the line and were not afraid to mix things up. This performance will without a doubt in-still confidence among the team as a tie with Bayern await in the Champions League and with a top4 spot to fight over.


All Arsenal need now is a bit of consistency and considering Chelsea’s and City’s decline, might even reach second if they keep it up. To their credit, considering the circumstances, Arsenal proved their top4 credentials much to the delight of Wenger.





 
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