Focus on clean sheets vital if Arsenal are to taste glory

By Avenell Dave

There is nothing more pleasing than to see Arsenal record a second clean sheet in a row.

Having read some of the reports of the game on Sunday and Monday, it would be easy to think we didn't really deserve the victory but let's get the result in context.

Apart from the fact that Sunderland continue to be a clogging side unworthy of the description 'football team', that their pitch is diabolical and that they were given license by the referee to kick us all over the place, we managed to withstand the late barrage.

The injuries to Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny, whose hobbling off during the warm-up meant we had to use a sub at the start of the game, meant we started an away game with as makeshift a back four as you can imagine.

I'm delighted for Bacary Sagna who put in an excellent performance at centre-back - one that statistically was better than anything else we've seen from a central defender all season. 

We've all been hailing Carl Jenkinson this season and there's no doubt the boy has a great future ahead of him, but we saw on Saturday that he still has a lot to learn.

I disagree with most that think the red card was justified - he second booking was probably not worthy of a yellow, but nevertheless he was foolish to dive in when already cautioned.

But the way we dug in, the way Wojciech Szczesny put in the sort of performance that we need to see more of and the fact that despite everything, we remained calm in the onslaught bodes well for the rest of the season.

Yes, we need players back from injury, we need to protect Jack Wilshere so he doesn't get another serious injury or burnt out (I can definitely see him being rested against Blackburn) and of course we need to take our chances.

But it's infuriating to see reports criticising Arsenal for winning but not more comfortably. Of course we'd love to win every game 4-0, no injuries, a lightning fast first half and saunter through the second without any fear of a comeback.

But football isn't like that and the fact that we managed to hold on is a testament to the capabilities we really do have. It's just a shame we don;t show them often enough.

A word too for Aaron Ramsey. Two years ago everyone sung his name in defiance of the Stoke bully boys who slated him after he'd had his ankle snapped.

He is a top player and a great asset to the club, but he's not a wide midfielder and a combination of being played in the wrong position, tentativeness after his injury and a lack of confidence that comes from the last two issues and being slated by his own fans has hardly helped.

I can see him taking over from Mikel Arteta long term - and just look at his engine. Football is not all about fitness, for sure, but he never stops running and the fact that he slotted in so well at right back further underlines his value.

We have a week off now until the FA Cup game - time to rest and rehabilitate. 

More clean sheets please - if a side cannot score, we're halfway there...