Sunderland’s League Cup adventure came to a sudden stop at the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal came out on top.
In all honesty, we played some very good football at times but poor defending cost us for at least three of the goals.
We showed heart, but at the end of the day the side with a squad worth hundreds of millions was always going to come out on top.
From the outset the game was always going to be a bit of a free hit for us. If we were to win it would be one of the biggest shocks in the recent history of the tournament. If we lost, well, it’s because we had a squad valued at a fraction of our opponents.
We far from disgraced ourselves, and in fact played with the fearless manner that so few lower league teams take into this kind of fixture.
At stages we played the ball around the pitch far better than anyone else in our own league, and I dare say we showed more aggression than some Premier League sides who have visited or will visit The Emirates this season.
It was the kind of big stage match which we haven’t experienced in a few years, and I feel confident in saying we showed more fight in last night’s match than we did in most of our league visits to Arsenal.
Our attitude was the same as what we have taken into many of our league fixtures this season. Far from being a team happy to sit back, we scored a cracking team goal and created a handful of other chances.
On another day, Embleton’s strike hits the other side of the post and goes in, but today was just one of those days.
Defensively we were perhaps our own worst enemy and some sloppy marking and poor tackles were individual errors more than a team completely outplaying us.
These were probably the most disappointing moments of the match, but nevertheless, there will have been some fantastic lessons for our younger players in particular to learn.
The scoreline would suggest total domination by the home side, which the stats would also show, yet despite the heavy defeat there are a lot of positives to take.
The positive attitude of the side was refreshing, and taking this into the second half of the league campaign will play a big part in us getting promotion.
Last night’s match was strange in many ways. It’s rare after a thumping that we are able to look on the bright side.
The biggest negative from the match is one that could have a huge impact on how the rest of the season plays out.
Post-match comments from Lee Johnson suggested that the injury to Nathan Broadhead is a bad one and, if this is the case, we could be without a player who is on top of his game for a large part of what is left of the season.
The fans, as is often the case, did us proud and could be heard singing loud long into the match, despite the result.
Over 5,000 in attendance so close to Christmas was a phenomenal effort, it must be said.
The time now comes to look ahead to Doncaster Rovers on Monday. It won’t have the glamour, but the importance of a win in South Yorkshire will have a much greater bearing on the campaign than last night’s result in London.