Another Arsenal Emirates blank after Sunderland snuck out of north London with the point they needed to avoid relegation. Whether Arsenal were at their best or not I think Sunderland deserve a huge amount of credit for the defensive performance they put in on Wednesday night. Unlike Swansea City recently the Black cats had everything to play for and it was only recently that they were being spanked by all and sundry.
But they've rolled up their sleeves, and executed their game plan to almost perfection. Dick Advocaat spoke post match at how they analysed the Swansea City performance and worked towards that, that has got to be a concern to Arsène ahead of the FA Cup final because with only one dress rehearsal remaining, he knows his players cannot afford to fluff their lines before the big day.
Unlike the Swansea City match Arsenal had started the game with the right energy and tempo, I thought that might be the case as Arsène made reference to the importance of starting well in his pre match comments.
Even though Theo Walcott did not start as I fully expected him to, I thought the line up was very offensive. Kieran Gibbs and Hector Bellerin haven't started a game together as full backs since our horrible home defeat against Monaco, probably because it is too attack heavy.
In a recent Arsenal Vision podcast Naveen spoke about the problems Arsenal have in building up their game with Francis Coquelin in the side so it was interesting to see Coquelin left out of the team in favour of a more fluid and interchanging midfield. That was about as attacking a team as you're going to get from an Arsène Wenger starting 11, the problem though is not so much with the creativity of the side but the finishing touch.
Both of our attacking goalscorers are off their game at present, Oliver Giroud needs to be taken out of the firing line while Alexis Sanchez continues to roll the dice when it comes to decision making. Aaron Ramsey is the only other goal scorer in that team and he seemed more focused on creating chances or winning the ball back.
That was really the long and short of it all. We had over 70% of the ball, passed and probed the Sunderland defence in an attempt to find gaps in their tight defence but nothing came off for the players tasked with opening the scoring.
With the benefit of hindsight I would have liked to have seen Alexis move centrally as a partner to Giroud, moving someone else on the left and Walcott on the right late on in the game. Chances were not coming frequently enough with our passing alone and it felt like we needed someone to create his own shot in the penalty area, unfortunately Alexis could not do that on the left flank and nobody else in the team has those gifts in tight areas.
In the end we were restricted to long range shots from Özil and Cazorla (I really hate wasted long range shots killing moves) as well as half chances from Gibbs, Özil and Giroud.
In many respects we should be thanking our lucky stars that Sunderland did not capitalise at the other end of the pitch as the visitors had more than one presentable chance to inflict yet another smash and grab. A lot of people have said that Ospina doesn't win us points well he certainly did on Wednesday.
Walcott's attacking contribution has to be praised, he was the one player who gave us a spark when he came on late. As ever he looked our most likely scoring threat and would have done so but for the keepers outstretched hand.
Theo Walcott will almost certainly start on Sunday against West Brom as will fellow substitute Tomas Rosicky who surprisingly looks like staying on at the club even though he has had limited chances in the first team this season.
The draw was enough for both teams but Arsenal will be unsatisfied with our lack of goals. We are creating chances, Mesut Özil made 7 key passes in the game I think but we are not taking them. We will have to put that right on the weekend so we can go to Wembley in better mental shape.