Here's my summary of Phil Dowd's work on Saturday:
The good: foul on Clichy 8mins, Wilshere deserved his yellow card 22 mins, Bent penalty decision 27mins, correct free kick foul by Koscielny, a free kick for Arsenal!!!!! 44 mins as Sunderland player climbs all over Song, yellow for Wellbeck 47mins for a nasty lunge on Sagna, got the penalty decision on Nasri right, Malbranque correctly carded 84mins.
The bad: Clear penalty for Ferdinand hand ball 20mins, he moves his hands horizantally to his side to block the cross, clear deliberate hand ball and ref perfectly positioned, poor late lunge on Wilshere missed 50mins, Bramble not booked for a late lunge on Wilshere 58mins, harsh,Sunderland booking for a tug on Chamakh 63mins, clear Sunderland hand ball missed 67mins, no foul given for Malbranque for clear yellow card cynical foul, clear booking for Zenden not given.
The soft: soft free kick for Chamakh 'foul' at 1min, soft free kick for 'foul' on Wellbeck 2mins, soft free kick for Arshavin tackle 10mins, soft free kick for non existent Wilshere foul 16mins, another soft free kick in centre circle 20mins, soft free kick 21mins for Clichy 'foul'.
The Song decisions - Dowd got the first booking incident all wrong, the initial foul was on Song as he was rugby tackled down, but Song was lucky not to have already been booked for a trip on Malbranque. The second booking was fair enough, Malbranque played for it to a degree, but Song should have known better, it was indiscipline on his part.
The thing that stands out is the complete lack of consistency shown by Dowd in the first half, everything went the home side's way. This virtually never happens at the Emirates, even when we have way more possession that Sunderland had on Saturday. Overall though Dowd wasn't awful, he was actually pretty decent in the second half. It is tempting to blame Dowd, but in reality unfair.
Defensive midfield - with Song sent off and Diaby injured, it was pretty much left to Wilshere to hoover things up in front the back four, although Rosicky did work very hard to contribute. Denilson had a pretty decent game when he came on, apart from some poor defensive headers, he made some good tackles and was useful. We coped excellently with ten men, Rosicky and Nasri were combining well, Chamakh was well supported too.
Better team with 10 men - We dominated the second half and were by far the better team with only ten men, our failure was converting this domination into goals.
The defense - Free header Onouha 15mins from corner, some excellent work from Almunia in dealing with crosses, Koscielny looked very sharp and solid, he read the game expertly and intercepted excellently throughout. Squillaci struggled at times to deal with Bent's movement and pace, there were several lapses from Gael Clichy. Overall Sunderland created little and we defender well.
The Sunderland goal - I have already commented on this. Our shape was all wrong when Zenden played the ball in, Clichy's clearance was poor, the rest bad luck. The fact that it came after more than four minutes of injury time was controversial to say the least, surely it is time for the referee's clock to be seen by the public so that there is no doubt as to the amount of time that is coming up?
Overall we deserved a win, despite playing the majority of the second half with ten men we were by far the better side, it was just that loss of defensive shape and Clichy's poor clearance that cost us in the end. As part of a greater trend I do not think that Clichy has been good enough defensively for quite a while now, he is weak aerially, he is not strong enough in the tackle, he makes too many errors. Gibbs deserves a chance to unseat him now. The criticism of Denilson now is harsh given that he played so well as a sub.
I don't blame Rosicky for missing the spot kick, those who didn't have the balls to take it deserve more criticism. It was just one of those rather unfortunate days, we need to move onto the Mickey Mouse cup against the Spuds, we will have nothing to lose as I'm sure we'll play a mixture of youth and experience, let's just hope we can put in a good display tomorrow. Come on you Gunners!