By Avenell Dave
When you’ve got a cup final coming up, there are two schools of thought about which way it will go in the game beforehand.
Your players will either give it their all in order to prove that they deserve a starting place or take it easy so as not to get injured or suspended to miss the big day.
Sunderland seemed to turn up without any plan whatsoever but the fact that Lee Cattermole, one of the grunts of modern day football, was rested because of the referee, underlines the fact that Gus Poyet had more than an eye on the Capital One Cup Final.
It was as easy and relaxed a win as I have known for some time, but the fact that we pressed and harried to enforce errors is something that has always been a positive for us.
Much has been written in the papers this morning that Tomas Rosicky has signed a new contract and despite his long injury lay-offs, he’s certainly a player who makes things happen.
Exquisite as his goal was, it’s the way he drove the team that was admirable and something that younger players at the club should seek to emulate.
Rosicky always puts in a shift, pressing the opposition into making errors and regardless of who we play, that is essential if we’re to win trophies this season.
We all know the criticism of Mesut Ozil has gone overboard and that his stats don’t give the impression that he is struggling as much as some would have you believe.
But perhaps Arsene Wenger was making a point to the German in his praise of Rosicky, that working hard for the team and always trying to make things happen are essential for players and teams to be successful.
I was surprised that Ozil wasn’t involved on Saturday. Bringing him on when Sunderland were down and out would have done wonders for his confidence but perhaps the enforced changes due to injuries would have hampered his involvement anyway.
This was certainly a perfect game for Olivier Giroud to return after a rest, given the approach of the opposition and the way he took his goals – the second in particular – was highly impressive.
Everyone else who we could consider a rival won at the weekend and we are playing before anyone else at the top when we face Stoke on Saturday.
I’m already getting anxious about Stoke away, which is never a nice fixture and the fact that they held City to a 1-0 underlines their ability to frustrate.
But if we press and show the same levels of energy as we did against Sunderland, I’m convinced we can come away with the three points.
We’re still in this title race, but every dropped point becomes critical with 11 games to go.