Two points dropped or one gained?

By Avenell Dave

For the first time in a long time, other commitments meant I couldn't watch or listen to commentary of Arsenal's game against Sunderland at the weekend.

When we went 1-0 up I was delighted and when we lost Alex Song with 30 minutes to go, I told Graham McNorthbank that my pre-match hope that we got a draw remained true.

Of course, conceding a goal in the last seconds of a game is always lamentable, particularly when things go against you.

Was the referee correct to send off Alex Song? Probably not, but the second booking was as much a caution as the first was not and he'd made a rod for his own back.

Where the extra time came from, I do not know, but having lost Cesc Fabregas as well early on, not losing is actually something to be celebrated.

Of course I know the arguments from the perfectionists out there that we should always be winning at places like Sunderland - even though any of you who have been there will attest that it's a pretty tough and undesirable place to go and the fans make one hell of a noise.

Yep, our rivals may well have more success there this season but the fact that we have taken four points against Blackburn and Sunderland away shows how this team is maturing.

From what I've seen and read since, the defence is looking good and, while he is for me still not the long term answer, it's great to see Manuel Almunia doing the decent job we always expect of him.

Seeing Mark Schwarzer's display for Fulham, you have to question how much of an improvement he would be.

There's been plenty of Twitter chatter this morning and yesterday about Gael Clichy. With Kieran Gibbs breathing down his neck, I would have hoped he would up his game.

Great going forward and with an engine that nevers eems to tire, he does make some key mistakes, no less the limp clearance that fell to Darren Bent for Sunderland's equaliser.

But he's still a France international and while that may not be as great an accolade as it was  a few years ago, it's important that we do not look for scapegoats.

Football is all about moments of magic and moments of misfortune. Players are not robots.

Of course it would be nice if you could rely on people to be steady and reliable at all times, but the game is not like that.

I read during the recent Interlull that Joe Hart gave England its first decent goalkeeping prospect since the days of Banks, Clemence and Shilton.

Somehow, perhaps due to letting in that cross/shot from Ronaldinho in 2002, David Seaman is no longer considered great in the eyes of some, despite the fact that he was undoubtedly one of the best of his generation.

What we need to do is get behind Clichy and hope he gets out of whatever dip in form he is going through.

Does he need a break from the team? Maybe, but I bet you Gibbs will play against WBA anyway, so that will keep him fresh.

One final note - it's gutting that we had a chance to kill the game with a penalty that Tomas Rosicky took more like Johnny Wilkinson than a striker, but as the most experienced outfield player on the pitch at the time, his selection made sense even if his style of penalty did not.

We dropped two points but gained one and should be proud of the progress we have made.

Time will tell how much of a setback it is but I'd rather be disappointed with an away draw after a Champions League game (and we've got many more away days after CL games to come) than be as fuming as I feel when we lose games needlessly.

Saturday just wasn't our day, but it could have been a lot worse.

Keep believing.