Post Match View – Sunderland A.F.C.

There’s a woman in Haiti who has never questioned why she became a devout catholic. She has never questioned how The Lord has allowed an earthquake to devastate the lives of so many people. She has never once dared to think that it is unfair to lose her two children, her husband, and the majority of everyone she has known for her 46 years on this planet.

She is the poster child for blind faith. Things happen for a reason, she reasons. For good or for bad, she carries on believing in The Lord. Her religion and her saviour come before all else.

I respect that kind of devotion but at some point, a logical approach would ask why Catholicism? Why any religion? Why blind faith? Why have I lost everything and everybody?

Some might call her a fool for believing.

I ask myself similar questions about Arsenal – why so much faith in players who’ve consistently let us down? Much like that Haitian woman (granted not nearly on the same scale), I have suffered but I still believe. It defies logic but the parallels are there. She never misses church. I rarely miss an Arsenal match. Even when she cannot afford to, she adds to the collection basket – she cannot afford to not give. I buy every shirt and travel thousands of miles every year to watch our boys in person. I see it as the least I can do.

In the face of trauma, she carries on believing. I might question certain decisions but my trust for Arsene is unwavering. It shall remain so.

Who’s the real fool some might ask.

Our 2-0 victory over Sunderland has moved us closer to the top. We cannot worry about what other teams do, we just have to win. We must not worry about individual performances, we must play for and support one another. Witness Cesc doing just that on 34 when Walcott had characteristically dribbled himself into trouble. The captain read the situation, ran over to help Bambi keep her legs, and although the attack fluttered, we managed to keep possession.

Much is made of Nicklas Bendtner’s confidence. I’ll be the first to admit that he hasn’t exactly delivered in a manner commensurate with all the chatter but let’s be clear, his presence in the team makes a difference when we play the more physical sides. Read as desperate sides who prefer an aerial approach.

Nik’s goal was overdue. On 8 minutes I thought, ‘Wow! Sunderland haven’t touched the ball in nearly 8 minutes’. On 15, I thought, ‘Wow! Sunderland haven’t touched the ball in nearly 15 minutes’. I felt that it was just a matter of time before we’d score. For all our possession and directness, the floodgates I expected never really opened.

Eboue was clearly the Man of the Match. Theo looked better than he has in a long, long, long, long, long time. But then again, how could he not? Cesc was not on his game but he did manage to help us seal the deal and close the gap with a late penalty. Wins don’t have to be pretty at this point.

Mickey Slivestre played well enough but struggled most of the match to convince the referee’s assistant that Sunderland really were offsides. We were fortunate when Kenwyne Jones failed to take advantage of one of those moments. Perhaps Almunia deserves some credit for closing the angle but a top striker should at least force a save when he’s one on one with the keeper. His effort was embarrassingly poor.

A bit less clownish in his last two starts, Almunia’s run off his line on 41 might have ended in disaster but we survived. Credit to Sunderland for making it difficult for us but if they don’t take their chances, relegation will continue to look more likely than not. Darren Bent was once on fire. He failed to impress the England manager in attendance at The Emirates. No shock there.

Stoke away next. I can hardly wait. Tough test but winnable.

Keep the faith.

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