LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 18: Craig Gardner of Sunderland and Gervinho of Arsenal battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Sunderland at Emirates Stadium on August 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Arsenal fought hard, but Sunderland were resolute today, and the Gunners could not break them down, only earning a point for a 0-0 draw in the end at the Emirates.
The opening three minutes were very tight, with Sunderland pressing well all over the pitch. Sunderland countered well through Colback, but his cross was deflected to Szczesny. A minute later, James McClean broke through from a Kieran Richardson pass, and Szczesny had to make a good low save. It was worrying from Arsenal's defense. No matter, though, as a minute after that, new man Santi Cazorla found himself with some space and ripped on from 20 yards that Simon Mignolet had to push away.
Arsenal began to assert control, and as one might suspect, Sunderland were looking for counters. 11 minutes in, they found one just about, but Szczesny was able to save Colback's low shot. the Gunners were finding it a bit tricky to threaten once they neared Sunderland's area. Gervinho finally escaped down the left on 19 minutes, but his cutback was put about a yard wide from Cazorla, Lukas Podolski sort of in his way. Cazorla cleverly found Diaby two minutes later, who pushed it out wide to Carl Jenkinson, whose cross caused chaos in the area before going out for a corner. Arsenal won another corner from it, which led to a sequence ending with a Theo Walcott shot wide.
Arsenal were beginning to find ways to creep through, and Abou Diaby tested Mignolet with a slow roller on 28 minutes. The corner came to nothing. Mikel Arteta flashed a free kick over the bar on 33 minutes after Kieran Richardson obstructed Gervinho. 43 minutes in, Walcott's pullback for Podolski was shunted just wide by the Sunderland defense.
Halftime arrived with no score.
Arsenal would begin the second half with the same personnel, as would Sunderland. The Black Cats were making it very tough in the area for Arsenal as usual, clogging space. Arsenal were chipping away, Podolski flashing a free kick over before Cazorla shot wide on 59 minutes. Walcott hit the side netting on 63. The new Arsenal players, Podolski and Cazorla, were working to build some kind of understanding, but many passes were going astray at the crucial moment for Arsenal.
On 64 minutes, Louis Saha replaced Stephane Sessegnon, and Olivier Giroud replaced Lukas Podolski. Mohamed Elmohamady replaced Frazier Campbell, and Aaron Ramsey came on for Abou Diaby.
74 minutes: Arsene Wenger flung his water bottle.
76 minutes in, Arsenal really kept good pressure on, but Sunderland defended stoutly. Jenkinson crossed for Giroud, whose shot went over the bar. Andrei Arshavin replaced Theo Walcott. 79 minutes, David Meyler replaced Sebastian Larsson for Sunderland. Ramsey shot over on 80 minutes.
Arsenal would produce their best chance yet on 82 minutes, Cazorla playing a brilliant through ball to Giroud, who somehow shot wide from 8 yards. Cazorla held his head in his hands.
There would be four minutes of added time as Arsenal tried to chip away to no avail. Arsenal won a corner on 92 minutes, which came to nothing, and neither did the one on 94 minutes. Chris Foy blew his whistle, and time ran out.
Positives: Cazorla was amazing, and Kieran Gibbs looked lively and ready to go.