Writer: Michael Briggs
Date:Saturday September 18 2010
Stadium of Light
Cutting it fine or fully deserved? Both are perfect analytical thoughts, but a rapturous Stadium of Light will agree and say that Sunderland deserved their 1-1 draw against Arsenal today.
Darren Bent was the hero for Sunderland with a goal right at the end of game after Cesc Fabregas` freak goal in the first half.
Senegalese midfielder Alex Song was sent for an early bath and Tomas Rosicky skied a penalty in the second half to put a stop to a high flying Arsenal side, something Arsene Wenger will be disappointed in as it could have seen his side go to the top of the league until rivals Chelsea play tomorrow.
You could say it was a game of two halve`s, but how many times have Sunderland`s games been like this? It`s happened all too often mostly negative but not this time, no, tonight fans saw a much more determined, alert side that are willing to throw everything they have until the final whistle.
From the off, the Black Cats ran the show, demonstrating quick and diverse football which contained the Gunners into their half.
But chances failed to be taken into the final third and by the 13th minute it cost the home side in bizarre fashion.
Anton Ferdinand`s casual clearance was charged down by Fabregas, who managed to get a foot to it and watched as it looped and lobbed Simon Mignolet from 35-yards, not the start Steve Bruce wanted.
But Bruce and the fans urged the home side on and once again they pinned the away side into their own half and nearly scored through Nedum Onuoha`s powerful header but watched it just go over the bar after the 15th minute.
Back came Arsenal, this time Song almost doubled the lead but had his chance saved by Mignolet following Andrey Arshavin's neat cross.
But a small turning point came when an injured Fabregas was taken off and replaced by Rosicky by Wenger, not what Gunners fans would have liked, what a way to end the first half.
In the second half, it was a completely different story, Arsenal started to show promise with Arshavin having two chances in a space of a few minutes gone to waste.
Then Moroccan Marouane Chamakh had another chance but again Mignolet was equal to it and saved well, after Samir Nasri`s neat flick put him through.
It then got worse for the away side on the stroke of the 55th minute; an already booked Song was given his marching orders by Phil Dowd after a clumsy block against Steed Malbranque, this was the chance Sunderland needed, all they had to do was take that chance.
Ironically, Arsenal seemed to thrive despite being short on numbers as Sunderland threw bodies forward without testing Manuel Almunia.
This came after a major reshuffle, Denilson coming on for Arshavin, this resulted in the restriction of Sunderland chances, after Titus Bramble and Bent failed to hit the target.
The outcome of the game should have been put beyond reasonable doubt in the 74th after Elmohamady brought down the excellent Nasri but Rosicky blazed his spot-kick wildly over the crossbar and into the bemused Arsenal fans.
That miss looked as though it would prove costly five minutes later when Malbranque curled in a cross towards Asamoah Gyan but Almunia saved his weak header comfortably.
Arsenal seemed certain to leapfrog Chelsea at the summit of the Premier League until the visitors failed to clear Jordan Henderson's corner and Bent lashed in the equaliser.
Manager Steve Bruce was delighted about the result and was more than happy for the fans, he told Safc.com,
"I've said before that one of the reasons I came here was to manage in front of a big crowd and big expectations.
"It's great for it to happen to us, scoring in the last minute for two home games in a row.
"We've had it happening against us for the last 15 months. It doesn't half give you a lift when it happens to you.
"It feels like we've won the match rather than just taking a point from it.
"Against Arsenal the last thing you want to do is concede something like that,' Bruce mused.
"It was a fluke. I've not seen a fluke like that in a long time and you wonder if it's not going to be your day."
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Date:Saturday September 18 2010
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