Sunderland 0 Arsenal 2: Gus Poyet flummoxed by costly mistakes

The Blackcats made two huge errors against the Gunners

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The Independent Football

The Sunderland manager, Gus Poyet, has admitted he is struggling to change the culture at a club where individual mistakes are endemic, as another relegation fight seems to be on the way.

After last weekend’s 8-0 horror show at Southampton, the Black Cats showed some fight at the Stadium of Light, but two dreadful errors by defender Wes Brown and goalkeeper Vito Mannone gifted Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez both goals on Saturday.

Sunderland have beaten only Stoke City at the Stadium of Light in the Premier League this season and Poyet cannot seem to halt the decline.

“I thought until last week we were a difficult team to play against,” he said. “We showed glimpses of that against Arsenal, but you can’t get away from the mistakes. We have conceded too many own goals, we are still conceding too many goals and we are still making too many individual mistakes so, no, that part of the game hasn’t improved. It is still there, it is inside the club. I accept responsibility, so it is up to you to judge.

“That is the part that is difficult to improve because you are playing the game, you are fighting and you are trying to wait for your time. One was bad enough, but to have two mistakes, two goals conceded like that after last weekend, is tough. It’s not something you expect or can train.”


For Arsenal, the excitement was almost tangible. Manager Arsène Wenger was talking about the impending return of striker Theo Walcott and how his forward line-up is firing his imagination while midfielder Mathieu Flamini was giving Sanchez favourable comparisons to former club greats Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas. It was giddy stuff.

Walcott would have, Wenger revealed, been given a cameo had the lead been more secure than just the one goal on the half-hour mark from Sanchez. Instead he was kept on the bench, but he is back to full fitness.

“If we had been in the position to do it, then yes, but it was tight,” said Wenger. “I am very happy [he’s back], but I have to find a way of bringing him back slowly over the next three or four weeks.

“Of course [it is a boost for other players], because Theo’s runs off the ball are always fantastic and he gives you hope that we will score goals and the pace we have in the side when he comes back will be very interesting. Walcott is quick, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is quick, so we can be very good in transition.”