Keeping Catts is Key
It's no surprise that Sunderland looked infinitely more organised against Arsenal with Lee Cattermole back in the starting eleven. His influence cannot be ignored; regardless of how many changes are made next season, he absolutely must be a mainstay in the side - provided he can prove his fitness, of course.
Is the manager right to praise the players?
In David Moyes' post-match email he placed great emphasis on praising his players for their performance, noting that it was a stark improvement to their showing on Saturday against Swansea.
We can put our name to that performance. We didn't like Saturday's – the players were well aware of that and they didn't like [the performance] either. Tonight we showed a lot of character and a great deal of effort. We performed in a good way which gave us a chance.
We made some good chances, but we just can't seem to get that first goal in the games and tonight we had one or two opportunities to do that. As a professional in any walk of life you have to bounce back and show what you can do, and I thought the players did that tonight.
We were ultimately outclassed by the better team. Arsenal are one of the division's form sides at this moment in time. We contained them for long periods, made some chances and passed the ball well when we got it tonight, so there were lots of good things.
Jordan made some wonder saves at different times. Good on him – everyone who follows Sunderland knows just how good he is.
The players deserved the applause they got at the end – the performance merited it.
It's interesting that Moyes was keen to showcase what his players did right in this instance rather that what they did wrong - and whilst it may give him some comfort to pretend that it was a good performance, I just cannot act as though it was acceptable. Whilst it was definitely a better showing compared to what we saw on Saturday, had it not been for the heroics of our goalkeeper it would have most certainly been the cricket score that every man and their dog had predicted would occur before a ball was even kicked.
Maybe my judgement is clouded but I just cannot stand this squad of players, and seeing them put more effort in when up against a big club just makes me feel cynical about the whole thing. I joked with a friend before the game that it wouldn't surprise me if certain players stepped up their efforts due to playing in front of the Arsenal manager and low and behold, they did.
Pickford set for stardom
If there were any lingering doubts about just how good a goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is then they were surely dispelled last night at the Emirates Stadium.
He was the reason we beat Hull a few weeks back and he was the reason that the score was only 2-0 against Arsene Wenger's side yesterday evening.
His all round game is just sublime - that side-volley pass that he played three-quarters of the way up the pitch, right to the feet of Jermain Defoe, was delicious. His distribution is near-perfect, his reactions are second to none and his ability to quickly recover and get back to his feet is scary. I honestly don't think that there is a better young goalkeeper in the world right now.
He'll end up representing England and winning trophies at an elite club - he's quite simply superb and it'll be a minor miracle if he's still a Sunderland player come the end of the Summer transfer window.
Reward the kids with starts on Sunday
Regardless of what happens tonight when our U23s side take on FC Porto in the final of the Premier League International Cup, we have to reward some of the players that have earned their chance of a first team call up in our game against Chelsea on Sunday.
I'm talking about Lynden Gooch, Elliot Embleton and Joel Asoro in particular.
They really cannot do any worse than the players who already occupy their favoured positions and it's a dead-rubber game against a team that also have nothing left to play for. And if we get twatted, so what? The youngsters are going to be the last ones to get it in the neck from the fans and if anything it will be a nice treat for the travelling support headed to Stamford Bridge to see our stars of the future get their chance on a big stage against a a side littered with world class talent.