What The Gaffer Said
Sam Allardyce loves nothing more than a clean sheet, so he was obviously ecstatic with the result of yesterday's game, especially considering his history with Arsene Wenger.
It’s a lovely clean sheet again from the Lads, I must give them credit for that, keeping Arsenal’s front line at bay is no easy feat and we kept them very quiet today.
Keeping their attack quiet gave us the basis to go on and try and win the game, which is what we did in the second half. We had a number of chances and before that Patrick van Aanholt’s free kick was a whisker away from putting us in front.
We had opportunities to make it 1-0, but nevertheless it’s a great clean sheet and we’ve climbed out of the bottom three with that result for the first time in a long time.
I wanted to try and nick it at the end, we had a couple of free kicks across the box and I was hoping we could see the game off, but it wasn’t to be. It’s still a good day and a well-earned point.
We’re in charge of our own destiny and we need to make the most of that.
We’ve climbed a huge mountain in recent months to get where we are and the Lads need to take confidence and determination from that and stay where we are.
Our goal difference is strong. I believe if we keep a clean sheet next week against Stoke we can win that game, especially if we create chances like we did today.
I’d like to see as good a performance as we had today and to get the win to help us get further away from that bottom three.
It's hard to argue with Sam's tactical choices yesterday - we set out to contain and frustrate Arsenal, and he was right to stick with the same side that beat Norwich last week. He maybe should have introduced Seb Larsson and Duncan Watmore earlier but it was tough, what with us playing so well in the opening fifteen minutes of the second half.
Cattermole The Real Sunderland Captain
It's no coincidence that we've looked a far more resolute and solid side since Lee Cattermole was given the Captain's armband.
His game steps up a notch when he has that responsibility, and in the last two matches in particular his very vocal influence on the rest of the side has been a huge reason as to why we've done so well. I've been critical of Cattermole this season, and rightly so, but by the same token I have to give him credit for becoming a key player in the relegation run-in.
It's obviously something to look at going into next season. He was unfairly stripped of the captaincy by Paolo Di Canio, but he has more longevity at Sunderland than John O'Shea has and regardless of which league we are in next year I think Cattermole will still be here. Make it official, Sam.
Super Khazri Is Back
Lets be honest, Wahbi Khazri was poor against Norwich and his influence in the two or three games prior to the away win at Carrow Road was minimal, so when he was selected to play yesterday against Arsenal he had much to prove in my eyes. Thankfully, he did not disappoint.
He was up and down the pitch, closing down, making tackles and working harder than just about every player on the pitch. When he had the ball he was looking to fashion opportunities for his team mates and I was honestly shocked he lasted the full game, such was the magnitude of the shift he put in.
That's more like it!
Gameplan At Stoke Mustn't Change
Stoke play with a similar shape to Arsenal, albeit with worse players, but the point remains - we have to set up the same way at Stoke that we have in the last two games. It's how we get the best out of what we've got.
We do have to be more clinical though. We had enough chances to at least score a goal yesterday, just like we did at home against West Brom. It's odd really, because at Norwich we had three shots and they all ended up in the net. I guess our inconsistency is part of the reason we're down at the bottom, but hey ho.
Good Point, Or Two Dropped?
Though I felt we had to avoid a loss at all costs yesterday, that wasn't a vintage Arsenal performance that we saw and they were very much there for the taking. Had it not been for Petr Cech we probably would have won, so though I'm content with a point - I said pre-match I'd have taken a draw there and then - I can't pretend I'm not slightly disappointed that we never won the game. That's me nit picking, mind.