Arsenal had Robin van Persie to thank as they beat Sunderland 2-1 at the Grove today. The captain spoke before the game about how he’d show his commitment on the pitch and his two goal salvo ensured Arsenal took the points.
The Gunners couldn’t have started the game any better, scoring their fastest ever Premier League goal after just 27 seconds. Tomas Rosicky put Gervinho down the left, he played a pass to van Persie who let the ball roll across him before rifling it home with his wonderfully effective chocolate leg.
He could have made it 2-0 not long afterwards when a beautiful turn and chip, again with the right foot, beat the keeper but hit the post and rolled across the line. The Dutchman showed how up for it he was with another attempt which flew not far wide.
Arsenal were well on top in the first 25 minutes but such is our Jekyll and Hyde nature at the moment it was no surprise to see Sunderland come back into it. Arteta was penalised for a handball outside the area and former Gunner Seb Larsson, renowned for his set-pieces, fired home a brilliant free kick into the top corner to make it 1-1.
Confidence seemed to ebb away and Sunderland should have gone ahead not long afterwards. Arsenal were at sixes and sevens and when a cross found Cattermole unmarked at the back post, just 3 yards from the line, I feared the worst. Somehow though, Szczesny spread himself to make a save as good as any other you’ll see this season. A few minutes later Colback fired a volley over as Arsenal staggered to half-time.
In the second half Arsenal dominated possession without really creating too much. A series of free kicks in dangerous positions were squandered, while Jenkinson and Rosicky tried hard to provide some forward momentum. Andrei Arshavin was brought on and almost scored after dribbling through the defence before toe-poking wide.
As time ran down it looked as if more points might be dropped but when Wes Brown gave away a free kick on the right hand side of the Sunderland area, up stepped van Persie. Anything Larsson could do, RVP could do better, he curled it over the wall, into the top corner and that was enough to give the Gunners the points.
Nervy? Yes. Unconvincing? Probably. But a win is a win is a win and the when we needed somebody to step up and show the way, Robin van Persie was the man.