|Wilshere made his first start for over 6 months as Arsenal drew 0-0|
I don't mean to make certain players scapegoats but it hasn't helped that Olivier Giroud is currently on a very barren spell. He appears low on confidence and if we're to start playing well then we really need Giroud to start finding form again. The problem for him is that he's not even getting in the right areas, and that was particularly evident in the first half when he kept coming short and passing up opportunities rather than shooting. If he starts playing more to his strengths then we'll find that the goals in the team will start to come again. However he did come alive a little more in the second half as he saw a flicked effort from his favourite near post saved by Pantilimon, who like Fabianski against Swansea, kept his side in the game.
Although we didn't score, the second half was greatly improved, as it was against Manchester United. We created a lot more as the game opened up but the primary reason behind why we created a lot more was because of Theo Walcott's introduction. Wilshere had had a decent game on the right but his first start since returning hadn't brought much joy. That did give Ramsey the chance to move back into his preferred central position though and his and Walcott's link-up play, as it was against United, was brilliant. When Theo was on the pitch we got in the wider areas more and we started to look more threatening. It's just a shame that he didn't start because after the impact he made at the weekend I thought he'd finally earned his chance.
One of our best chances did indeed come from the Ramsey and Walcott combination. The Welshman slid a perfect through ball into Walcott but his dink over the keeper just didn't quite have enough legs to find the net. For me, this game against Sunderland showed exactly why he should start against West Brom, and possibly even the FA Cup final. When he came on he showed strong signs of returning to his best; at point point he took on his man, burst beyond the defender and struck a shot which was well kept out. It was a typical Walcott piece of play, and hopefully we'll start to see it more often again from now on.
I also feel as though it's worth mentioning David Ospina's performance. His displays in recent weeks have come under a bit of scrutiny but against Sunderland he made a few important saves. Especially from Fletcher in the second half when one-on-one as he put the ball wide and out for a corner.
The performances of Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil, along with Alexis Sanchez's, were a bit concerning. Cazorla has dropped off a bit in recent weeks compared to his form earlier in 2015, whilst Mesut Ozil slowed our game down a little when we needed that quick impetus. However you can't blame him when the movement for most parts of the game in the forward positions was non existent. In my opinion, if the German is to be a proper success in the Premier League then he needs to become more lively and energetic in the final third due to the pace of the English game.
The most concerning aspect right now though is the run we're on. We're without a win in 4 matches which after being unbeaten in 9 games is hugely disappointing, especially ahead of a Cup final. In my opinion it's vitally important for our confidence that we finish on a high at home to West Brom on Sunday in our final league game.
The team's line-ups:
Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Ramsey, Cazorla, Wilshere(67), Ozil(81), Sanchez, Giroud.
Subs: Szczesny, Gabriel, Monreal, Coquelin, Flamini, Rosicky(81), Walcott(67).
Sunderland: Pantilimon, Jones, O'Shea, Coates, van Aanholt, Cattermole, Larsson, Johnson(74), Wickham(45), Defoe, Graham(45).
Subs: Mannone, Vergini, Reveillere, Rodwell(45), Giaccherini, Buckley(74), Fletcher(45).
Referee: Anthony Taylor.