Tag Archives: Sunderland

Arsenal Form, Chelsea & Newcastle / Sunderland


Arsenal Form


Since the opening day defeat to Liverpool, Arsenal have now gone 14 games undefeated in all competitions. We are in scintillating form. With some nasty fixtures coming up (Spurs, Man U, PSG) it will be a tough job to keep that run going. But with 2 of those 3 at home, we have a chance of following up an unbeaten September and October with an unbeaten November. Starting tomorrow with a trip to Ludogorets.


For me, this season has been defined so far by misreporting by the media. No more so when The Guardian announced that Liverpool and Tottenham are setting a thrilling Premier League pace – when they were 3rd and 4th. Spurs now sit 5th. Still unbeaten mind!

Another narrative written incorrectly was by those who were quick to write off Chelsea. Reports even surfaced that Antonio Conte was about to get sacked.

Yes, we dicked them, but 10 games in they sit 4th. Just a point off the top.

What has been interesting is that whilst a lot has been written about how Manchester City fans need to give Pep Guardiola time whilst he rebuilds the way they play, the same ideology has not been applied to Chelsea.

Conte has now moved to his 343 (or whatever!) formation that saw him so successful at Juventus and Chelsea have now won 4 on the spin.

With players like Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, Chelsea are in this title race. They should not be written off.

Newcastle / Sunderland

At the back end of last season, I posed a question when Newcastle and Sunderland were fighting for the right to remain in the Premier League.

Would you rather get relegated to the Championship, and run away with the league next year, or remain in the Premier League, and have another year fighting relegation?

My thinking was simple. People love winning. Last season Sunderland saw their side win just 12 games from 38 as they finished 2 points ahead of rivals Newcastle, who won 11 of 38.

Newcastle this season have already won 11 games. Sunderland still without a win.

Whilst Sunderland are now in a relegation battle for the 5th season in a row – the last 4 seasons have seen just 35 wins, Newcastle are having fun in the Championship. On course to come straight back up, as Champions.

I guess the best way to judge it is through attendances.

At 84.1%, Sunderland are bottom of the Premier League attendance table. Meanwhile, Newcastle are on average at 96.4% full to capacity. The Championship high. Proof, perhaps, that as a fan, the short term final day pain of relegation can soon be forgotten about by a successful season in a lower league.

Goodbye Sunderland – You will not be missed


Sunderland were awful.

There is no way of trying to big them up to make it look like Arsenal were brilliant in a 4-1 victory. Sunderland were truly awful.

An awful city, an awful football team, and awful journey there and back. There will not be a tear shed when they go down. Hopefully taking the equally awful Swansea City, Hull City or Stoke City down with them. Let’s start cleansing the Premier League of these horrible little clubs who have horrible little train journeys. They won’t be missed.

Arsenal played OK. No better than they have played recently, no worse. But Sunderland were just dreadful.

Why would you play a high line when you have John O’Shea at centre back facing Alexis Sanchez upfront? You are asking for trouble. And to compound it, 5′ 6″ Sanchez opened the scoring with a header.

All Sunderland could do was try and kick us off the pitch. Sanchez took some treatment and it is testament to his mentality that he kept it together. A lesser man (Suarez, Costa) would have got sent off or (Reyes) gone into hiding. Every time Sanchez got knocked down, he got back up again. He will wake up bruised this morning and deserves his ice bath.

How Sunderland kept 10 men on the park was only due to referee Martin Atkinson ineptness. He was as bad as Sunderland. And how he did not give that penalty I will never know. I imagine he will be joining Jon Moss in the lower leagues next weekend.

Luckily for Arsenal, two poor refereeing performances haven’t affected the results.

One thing that yesterday showed was just how much we missed Olivier Giroud.

I said after the bore draw with Boro that had Giroud been on the bench, we would have won. He is the best Plan B in Europe.

When teams are defending deep, he causes havoc in the 6 yard box with his strength. He bullies defenders, draws them towards him, and if not scoring himself, makes space for others.

Against Boro we missed him. They packed the middle and left space out wide, but we were unable to take advantage of it.

Giroud’s first goal was typical of the Frenchman. Space out wide. Cross in. Get in front of the defender.  Sweep it in with his left foot. 2-1.

He gets his critics, but remember, he was always bought as a Plan B. This was what I wrote in 2012…

When we signed Sanchez, the rumours were he would play up top, like he does for his country. He started there but was soon moved out wide. By luck of design, he has found himself as striker again this season. Yesterday took him to 50 goals in 106 games. A phenomenal record.

His form, alongside the returning Giroud, gives us options up front. We can now change things up. Changes styles. Depending on the opponents, on the in game performance.

And having Aaron Ramsey back is a game changer too. Being able to bring on players of his and Giroud’s class shows our incredible strength in depth. Even with no Walcott, Welbeck, Cazorla, Wilshere & Perez.

Ramsey’s return will give Wenger a head ache. With Coquelin, Elneny, Cazorla & Xhaka all potentially available for Spurs next weekend, 5 into 2 doesn’t go. Wenger needs to not only get the individual personnel right, but also the partnership.

Plenty of arguments on Twitter last night as too who should play. Few agreed.

A final thought, when was the last time every player in our 1st 11 was replaceable by someone else in the squad? Take out Ozil, replace with Cazorla, Walcott for Chamberlain, Monreal for Gibbs. The depth is incredible, and is forcing players to maintain top form.

So Sunderland are the worst team ever in the Premier League. They won’t be missed. Bye-the-lad.

Have a cracking Sunday


A Slow Train to Sunderland


Yes, I know it’s early. But these are the sacrifices we make for our team.

Rather than a few beers after work with my colleagues, followed by a few beers back home with my pals, then a curry, shower and sleep, the normal Friday night, a 12.30 kick off in Sunderland meant an early start this morning.

Instead of being able to wake up at a reasonable time, I am up usual work time. I need to be on the 8:11 from Kings Cross to Sunderland, getting into the City at 11:50. I am already looking forward to the disgusting looks from people as I crack open the 1st can of the morning at 8:11 (I have a rule, never open the can before the train pulls off.)

Sunderland is a bit a of crap trip. An awful city, an awful ground.

It is a bit better this year due to the ticket price reductions. Previously their £45 charge and £60 meant that you had done over a ton before you had even bought any alcoholic beverages. They sit you up in the Gods, the wind rattling towards you. Even in May it is cold.

At least in Newcastle, you get to drink in a decent city before and after, possibility of a night out. Sunderland is bleak. I do wonder what the point of it is. Maybe they should just move all the Calais refugees there? Would be a home from home.

Despite all this, it has often been a legendary train journey. One of them ones that due to it being 3 hours long, by the time you make the journey back you can barely remember your own name. A lot of the great stories of away games travel have come as a result from a trip to Sunderland.


Back in the day we did actually used to go via Newcastle. This meant a couple of pints before the game in the old O’Neil’s opposite the station, before getting the Metro to Stadium of Light or St Peters.

They have opened up a new route recently which allows you to go direct into Sunderland. Whilst it is quicker and cheaper, it drops you into the middle of Sunderland City centre, a desolate concrete shopping area where every shop is shut, bar 3 Greggs.

Whilst it is an early start for me, at least the 12:30 scheduling (cheers TV companies – always taking into account travelling fans!) means we can be home in time for X-Factor. The train pulling back into Kings Cross at 18:53. Enough time to get back home, put the dinner on, and settle in for a bit of Honey-G.

I am probably making it sound like I am really miserable and not looking forward to today’s trip. Well you’re right. It’s made even worse by the fact that half the travelling support today, and most of the lads I am going with, are heading to Sofia tomorrow for the Champions League game against Ludogorets. So all they will be talking about is how excited they are. Planning what is happening. They will be buzzing.

Meanwhile tomorrow all I am up to is a bit of washing, some cleaning, re-run of X-Factor and some packing in preparation for me to move house. And The life of a 32-year old man. In fact, I have just looked at flights to Sofia. £113. I am tempted. But then I do have work Monday, and have to pick up a new car Thursday.

So yeh, I am off out now. Basically wrote this because I had 15 minutes to spare before meeting my pals at Walthamstow Central. Enjoy your lay in…