Saturday, February 21, 2009

Arsenal Draw Again

Andrei Arshavin's debut failed to help misfiring Arsenal conjure up a goal as they played out another frustrating goalless draw against Sunderland at Emirates Stadium.

The Russian - signed on deadline day from Zenit St Petersburg - saw an early low shot fly just wide, before Marton Fulop beat away his angled drive.

Sunderland, though, battled well, and in the end were worth a share of the spoils as the Gunners - who hit four in the FA Cup against Cardiff here on Monday night - again could not break down a stubborn top-flight defence and missed the chance to close the gap on the top four with a third successive goalless draw in the Barclays Premier League.

Chelsea's 1-0 win at Aston Villa earlier meant the Gunners - unbeaten in 12 matches before this afternoon - had a chance to make up ground in the race for Champions League qualification.

However, despite again having plenty of possession, a Kolo Toure header cleared off the line in the first half was a close as they got.

It was, though, almost a dream start when Arshavin picked up a stray pass from Andy Reid and charged towards the penalty area, before unleashing a low drive which flew inches wide.

Arsenal were working hard when not in possession, denying Sunderland space to create forward momentum.

Robin van Persie was released into the left side of the penalty box by Denilson after 11 minutes.

The Dutchman - with 14 goals so far - took the ball around keeper Fulop, but then could only watch as his clipped effort curled just off target.

Arshavin cut inside and drilled an angled shot goalwards from the edge of the penalty area, which Fulop pushed away at full stretch.

There was a warning for the Gunners when Sunderland broke quickly and released Anton Ferdinand down the right, whose drive was beaten out by Manuel Almunia.

Reid then left fly with a 25-yard effort, which soared over before Dean Whitehead forced a decent save from Almunia as the hosts were pushed on the defensive for the first time in the match.

Arshavin was slipped in down the right. His cutback from the goalline picked out Nicklas Bendtner in the six-yard box, and Fulop had to get down quickly to turn the ball around the post.

At the end of the first half, Toure sent a far-post header goalwards following a corner from the right - only for Sunderland midfielder Reid to clear it off the line.

Following the restart, Arsenal continued to build a sustained period of pressure, if without troubling the Sunderland defence in the final third.

Arshavin floated over a ball into the penalty area from the right flank, but it was just too far ahead of Bendtner.

With 27 minutes left, the Russian was given a well-earned rest when he was replaced by Carlos Vela, who moved to the left as Nasri switched flanks.

The young Mexican almost had an instant impact when his cross flew across the six-yard box and would only have needed a touch into the net.

When George McCartney fouled Bacary Sagna in the right-hand corner, Van Persie whipped in the free-kick, which the keeper had to push behind his near post for a corner.

Vela dragged a left-foot shot across goal when the ball dropped to him in the six-yard box.

The Mexican again failed to hit the target when picked out by Van Persie following a pass alongside the edge of the penalty area.

Full-back Gael Clichy picked up an injury and was replaced by Kieran Gibbs for the final few minutes, as the Gunners again were left frustrated with William Gallas dragging a close-range effort wide in stoppage time.

No comments :

Post a Comment