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Arsenal 3-1 Sunderland: Campbell Shines as Gunners Progress in FA Cup

Arsenal 3 (Campbell 26′, Ramsey 72′, Giroud 76′) – Sunderland 1 (Lens 17′)

Match Report Match HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

With half an eye on the all-important Premier League clash against Liverpool on Wednesday night, Arsene Wenger had to dig deep within the depth of his squad to pick a team that was going to be capable of defeating Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland. The chewing-gum expert had bemoaned the fixture and stated that he was going to rotate his squad, and he kept his word, making seven changes to the team that defeated struggling Aston Villa last season. Wenger on the other hand made five changes with Kieran Gibbs, Gabriel Paulista, Calum Chambers, Alex Iwobi and Joel Campbell coming into the side. Had David Ospina been fit, he would have kept in Petr Cech’s stead. Interestingly, Matt Debuchy stayed on the bench.

The game began well for the home side with Gibbs testing the debutant goalie on his near post that prompted him to make a fine save but against the run of play, Sunderland grabbed an unlikely lead from Jeremain Lens. Gibbs had fed the captain of the day, Laurent Koscielny, with what seemed to be a simple back pass but the ball got in between the French defender’s legs and fell kindly to Lens that blasted the ball past Cech. I was a bit disappointed seeing the ball breeze past the legendary goalie because I believed it was close enough for him to make a save but hey, that’s football.


The Gunners didn’t let that goal dismay them and they kept pressing and probing for an equalizer. Their efforts were crowned when Campbell crept unbeknownst to the defenders and latched onto Walcott’s drive before side-footing past Pickford to make it 1-1. It was a well deserved goal for a player that had really made an influence on the game.

Going into the break level on terms wasn’t bad but there was some concern about Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s performance. I don’t know why his confidence has been dented but he struggled by his fair standards. His best moment arrived when he curled a sweet ball that clipped the post but Walcott’s rebound was tame.

With Sunderland on the rise, Wenger took out Chambers and Iwobi to bring on Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta. It didn’t take long for Rambo to make his presence felt when he arrived late in the box to convert Hector Bellerin’s perfect-cushioned ball to give the Gunners the lead. Two became three when an anonymous Olivier Giroud made good space for himself to side-foot Bellerin’s drilled pass. These two strikes were scored within four minutes and it put the game beyond doubt.

From that moment that wind left the sails of the away side and held protected their lead to progress to the next round. There was even time to give the Jeff a debut and he didn’t put a foot wrong making neat passes along the way.

The win indicated that Arsenal’s defense of the FA Cup title has begun and it would be interesting to see who they face in the fourth round. However, I must say that Joel Campbell’s performance on the day was exemplary. He attacked and defended valiantly and there was one moment he unleashed his inner Brazilian executing a neat skill on the touchline. In contrast, the Ox didn’t play too well and I hope he gets his act right soon. The lad’s inconsistency is quite shocking and with players returning from injury, he could find himself further down the pecking order. I will be really surprised if he starts ahead of Campbell when the Gunners visit Anfield.


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Gunners Return to Winning Ways in the League

15/16: Arsenal v Sunderland - Olivier Giroud

Arsenal 3 (Campbell 33′, Giroud 64′, Ramsey 90′) – Sunderland 1 (Giroud own goal 45′)

Match ReportMatch HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

The Premier League is truly one of the most exciting leagues in the world. Nobody saw Manchester City dropping points to Stoke and with that, the way was paved for the Gunners to join the leading pack. Injuries forced Arsene Wenger’s hands to tweak his team selection with Aaron Ramsey returning to his ‘favored’ central midfield role and Joel Campbell continuing his extended run in the side. On the bright side, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was fit to start while Theo Walcott made a place on the bench.

Sunderland almost grabbed the lead when Fabio Borini hit the Gunners on the break but his shot was saved by a fully-concentrating Petr Cech in goal. Cech had to show his reflexes yet again when Mathieu Flamini almost scored an own goal. He has been a positive influence on the defense since his introduction to the team this season. The Ox had a couple of moments where he showed his directness against the opposition but his final ball was lacking, as the case has always been with him.

Arsenal finally got the lead when the red-hot Mesut Ozil threaded an inch-perfect pass for Campbell in behind the defense and the Costa Rican forward placed the ball past Costel Pantilimon to give the Gunners the lead. Kudos to Wenger for making him and the Ox switch flanks. That was a tactical move that yielded fruit. Ozil almost found Campbell again with another brilliant pass but the forward wasn’t on the same wavelength with the awesome Ozil.

Sunderland got their equalizer in rather bizarre circumstances. First, Laurent Koscielny committed a foul in a position he wasn’t meant to then Giroud deflected the ball into his own net. Just like the Norwich game, the Gunners had conceded an equalizer just before the stroke of half time, so the onus was on the lands to up the ante in the second half.

Nacho Monreal showed great determination to win the ball further up the pitch before finding Ramsey but the Welshman fired his shot into the side netting. The last time Monreal was in a similar situation, he passed the ball to Alexis Sanchez and the net was shaking shortly afterwards. Ramsey was located with another awesome Ozil pass but he was offside.

As if conceding an equalizer wasn’t bad enough, Steven Fletcher fired a shot that would have put Sunderland ahead but Cech made another good save. On the hour mark, Cech made himself big to stop a Fletcher effort at point blank range. That was a big moment in the game because if Sunderland went ahead, the winds would have been taken away from Arsenal’s sails.

With Sunderland failing to take the initiative, Arsenal grabbed the lead when Giroud dived low to head Ramsey’s clipped pass that beat Pantilimon in his near post. Shortly afterwards, Walcott made his comeback, replacing the ineffectual Ox. Giroud almost got a brace when his headed effort from a corner was blocked off the line. Had that ball entered, it would have been another assist for Ozil. With 12 assists to his name already, he’s odds on to surpass Thierry Henry’s Premier League record this season.

At 2-1, things were somewhat tetchy and it seemed as if a Sunderland equalizer was more likely than Arsenal putting the game beyond doubt. My fears were almost realized when Hector Bellerin was caught in No Man’s Land but Patrick van Aanholt’s shot sailed over the bar. The Gunners finally put the game to rest when Ramsey fired in the game clincher late on.

With Leicester taking Swansea to the cleaners, the Foxes are on top of the Premier League with 32 points and the Gunners are two points behind. Both Manchester clubs are level on points with 29 each. This has been a topsy turvy season but there is still more to be unfolded.

Now that the points are in the bag, it’s time to focus on the all-important Champions League clash against Olympiakos


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Arsenal vs Sunderland Preview: Time to Pick Up Points in the League

Everyone has admitted that Arsenal is going through a bad spell in the League. In their last three games, Arsenal has dropped points against Tottenham, West Brom and Norwich amassing two points from a possible nine. Sunderland on the other hand, have picked up some good form since Sam Allardyce took over and they have won three of their last five games.

Arsenal Team News

Arsenal is heavily plagued with injuries and the club are without some key players but they would have to soldier on without them. Losing Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla are big blows to the club but in Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the Gunners have able replacements.

Wenger has shared his thoughts on the present situation at the club,

“I believe first of all it’s always a disappointment to lose the players at an important moment of the season. But on the other hand, it’s a great challenge to take for the team and a great opportunity to show that we are ready for a fight and we can deal with it. We prepared ourselves to go through periods like that, and I’m convinced the players are ready.”

Laurent Koscielny and Theo Walcott will face fitness tests and they will probably play from the bench.

Arsenal Injury / Suspension News

Jack Wilshere (ankle), Tomas Rosicky (knee), Danny Welbeck (knee), Theo Walcott (doubtful – calf), Francis Coquelin (knee), Mikel Arteta (calf), Alexis Sanchez (hamstring), Santi Cazorla (knee)

Arsenal Predicted Lineup

Arsenal 4-2-3-1 football formation

Sunderland Team News

Sam Allardyce side would be looking to build on their win against Stoke and they will be expected to put up a defensive show against Arsenal. However, they will be without the services of their top striker, Jermaine Defoe.

Sunderland Injury / Suspension News

Sebastian Larsson (knee), Jack Rodwell (hamstring), Jermaine Defoe (hamstring)

Sunderland Predicted Lineup

Sunderland 3-5-2 football formation

Team Form


  • Last Five Games: L D L W D
  • Last Result: Norwich 1 (Grabban 43′) – Arsenal 1 (Ozil 30′)
  • Leading Goalscorer: Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez (9)


  • Last Five Games: W L L W W
  • Last Result: Sunderland 2 (van Aanholt 82′, Watmore 84′)– Stoke 0
  • Leading Goalscorer: Jermaine Defoe (7)

Gooner Daily predicts a 3 – 0 win.


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