Sunderland Analysis: Arsenal loss won't halt the progress being made under Sam Allardyce

Steven Fletcher
Steven Fletcher

Sam Allardyce's wait for a first managerial victory at Arsenal goes on, yet the 61-year-old may never come closer.

Ultimately, Sunderland came away with nothing from the Emirates to remain in the thick of the relegation dogfight, but they could - and should - have got at least a point, and probably all three.

However, a performance which was arguably as good any produced during Allardyce's Sunderland tenure says a lot about the progress which has been made over the last two months.

Sunderland are a proper team again.

There's some confidence in their ranks, some resilience in their defence and some attacking incision going forwards.

For the first half hour, Sunderland were as comfortable as they have EVER been at the Emirates. It was that good, and with a touch more precision, most notably from Fabio Borini, they would have gone ahead.

But that was largely the pattern for the rest of the game.

Other than the inevitable five-minute spell after Arsenal's first and second goals, when they went through the gears, Sunderland thrived - soaking up pressure through the effective midfield pairing of Ola Toivonen and Yann M'Vila, before threatening on the counter-attack, principally through Duncan Watmore.

The 21-year-old was far more elusive than he had been on his first Premier League start against Southampton last month. He's improving all the time, as he adapts to the helter skelter of top flight football.

Watmore had the chance to grab a second equaliser, before Patrick van Aanholt - whose performance was generally excellent - spurned THE opportunity to grab a point.

The only real weak-link for Sunderland was Fabio Borini, with the Italian building on his poor miss by almost gifting Arsenal the lead again seconds after Olivier Giroud had headed into the wrong net.

Sam Allardyce was understandably dispirited afterwards at Sunderland's profligacy and the failure to add a precious point or three to their tally.

Miss chances like that and Arsenal will provide the adequate punishment with the quality within their ranks, even though they were missing so many classy performers.

But Sunderland are undoubtedly on an upward curve. This defeat won't offer any mental blow to the progress being made under Allardyce.