Wenger wonders who will score Van Persie's goals

Arsenal 0 Sunderland 0

Life after Robin van Persie began with thoughts inevitably drifting towards him the longer a hot afternoon went on and Arsenal's attempts at breaking down a dogged Sunderland defence became less convincing.

Lukas Podolski and then Olivier Giroud, who came on as a substitute for him, had a go, the latter missing the one good chance that either had.

More promising, if ultimately unproductive on the day, was the other new signing Santi Cazorla from Malaga, with whom one or other of those new strikers will need to forge an effective relationship if the regular top-four place that Arsene Wenger has always achieved is to be maintained.

The manager will, of course, aim higher than that, but just like last season it may be necessary to improve on a slow start to the season as new signings bed in.

"We lack sharpness at the moment," he admitted. "Sunderland always play the same way against us. They defended well the whole game and we lacked accuracy in the final pass and our overall passing was not quick enough."

Like Arsenal, Sunderland had a bad start to last season – so much so that it cost Steve Bruce his job at the end of November – the difference being that they finished badly as well, winning none of the last eight games to drop from ninth to 13th. With only Carlos Cuellar and Louis Saha added so far, both on free transfers, while the leading scorer Nicklas Bendtner has left, this was a real bonus point, to the understandable delight of Martin O'Neill, the messiah who replaced Bruce last winter. He did agree that Van Persie is "a major loss" to Arsenal.

However neat the approach play remains, the Dutchman's 30 goals are going to take some replacing and it may be that Arsenal will be more successful in away games where the home team open up more willingly than Sunderland, who in the whole of the second half barely reached the opposing penalty area. When they did in the last two minutes and Arsenal attempted a counter attack, there were still five blue shirts crowding out Giroud.

Cazorla has already become a favourite, as his reception when jogging over to take corners confirmed.

Lee Cattermole was handed the daunting task of subduing him and came through without having added to last season's 10 yellow cards, one blatant handball being the worst of his offences.

Without Wes Brown and Phil Bardsley, there was a makeshift look about the Sunderland defence, in which Craig Gardner and Kieran Richardson were the full-backs.

Theo Walcott and Gervinho were unable to exploit that, while in the centre John O'Shea and Cuellar kept Podolski on a tight leash.

It was Cazorla's running from the position just behind him that promised more.

He came forward early on to hit a thunderous left-footed shot that Simon Mignolet pushed up into the air, drove a low effort wide after a cut-back by Gervinho and played Walcott through only for him to be denied by Richardson's late interception.

Driving a half-volley wide at the start of the second half, the Spaniard was equally threatening, again more so than Podolski, who soon made way for Giroud.

Sunderland, having barely left their half since the interval, brought on Louis Saha for Stephane Sessegnon, who had been doing duty as their forward line.

Only in the first 10 minutes had there been anything to worry Wojciech Szczesny, who held low drives by Jack Colback and James McClean.

Aaron Ramsey and Andrey Arshavin were both introduced for the last 20 minutes, but much of the spark had gone from Arsenal's game.

The visitors, meanwhile, had long since settled for holding what they had, which was a more than useful point.

They were almost denied it even then eight minutes from time when Giroud made an intelligent run on to Cazorla's pass but was always stretching for the shot and could only clip it wide.

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Diaby (Ramsey, 69); Walcott (Arshavin, 77), Cazorla, Gervinho; Podolski (Giroud, 64).

Sunderland (4-1-4-1): Mignolet; Gardner, O'Shea, Cuellar, Richardson; Cattermole; Campbell (Elmohamady, 68), Larsson (Meyler, 78), Colback, McClean; Sessegnon (Saha, 63).

Referee: Chris Foy

Man of match: Cazorla (Arsenal)

Match rating: 6/10

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'