Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Cats Have No One to Blame but Themselves

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Cats Have No One to Blame but Themselves

Article excerpt

Byline: JAMES HUNTER

IT was a case of what might have been for Sunderland at the Emirates.

Behind after less than 30 seconds against Arsenal and under siege for 20 minutes, they might easily have ended up on the wrong end of a thrashing.

Instead, after weathering the storm, the Black Cats hauled themselves level and - after an incredible turnaround in the game - might even have found themselves a couple of goals to the good by half-time.

But they didn''t. And in the end they fell just short, coming within eight minutes of hanging on for a point before being undone by a flash of set-piece brilliance from Robin Van Persie, who had also scored the Gunners'' first goal.

But before this descends into a hard luck story, it should be pointed out that Sunderland have no-one to blame but themselves.

For the second time in as many games, they gave their opponents a head start. Against West Brom a fortnight ago they found themselves two goals down inside five minutes, while at Arsenal they were chasing the game after only 27 seconds!

Those of the sell-out travelling contingent from Wearside who had taken their seats could scarcely believe their eyes. And Arsenal threatened to run away with the game, scything their way through the Sunderland defence seemingly at will in a whirlwind start.

A fabulous Van Persie chip came back off the woodwork, the Dutchman fired just wide from distance, a Gervinho screamer cleared the bar by inches and the Brazilian had a shot blocked on the line by Kieran Richardson.

To say Sunderland''s centre-back pairing of Wes Brown and Michael Turner looked shaky was putting it mildly! Yet, incredibly, it turned out to be a first half of two quarters and as the game approached the half-hour mark it was Arsenal''s defence that was rocking.

Lone striker Stephane Sessegnon almost capitalised on a rush of blood from Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny, but after he had got past the Pole he could not pick out a team-mate in the middle. …

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