Arsenal 4 Sunderland 1
Arsene Wenger confirmed Tomas Rosicky will not be leaving Arsenal this summer after the midfielder highlighted his continuing importance with a goal that helped exorcise the painful memory of last week’s Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich.
The Czech Republic international’s future was uncertain with Rosicky out of contract this summer and linked with a move to Bayern. Wenger though, made it clear he has no intention of allowing the 33-year-old to leave and that the player is now poised to sign a new, 12-month deal.
“Tomas Rosicky will stay,” said Wenger. “We have an agreement with him and it will come out soon. I am absolutely adamant he has to stay at the club.”
Wenger’s stance was understandable given Rosicky’s contribution to the impressive dismissal of a Sunderland side who know a similarly insipid performance against Manchester City in next Sunday’s Capital One cup final could generate even greater humiliation.
The midfielder was just one of a number of Arsenal players who excelled but his role as the instigator and then finisher of an outstanding one-touch passing move proved the highlight of a victory that did much to restore morale.
It also threw focus on Wenger’s uncharacteristic decision to omit Rosicky from his starting line-up against Bayern, particularly in light of the subsequent lame performance by Mesut Ozil. Wenger, though, moved quickly to restate his admiration for the player.
“I think he is maybe one of the players who plays the game of give and move,” said the manager.
“He always makes things happen, not with individual dribbling but with individual acceleration of his passing and of his runs.
“When he arrived here he was less a tactical player. He was purely creative, offensive player. Today he is a real organiser on the pitch as well. I like to have him in the team because he gives a real structure to our team.”
This time it was Ozil who was missing because he was still suffering a dead leg. The break will undoubtedly have done him good, although the Germany international could have been forgiven feelings of regret at missing out on the opportunity to play with time space after the uncomfortable experience at the hands of Bayern.
A disappointing personal display capped by a missed penalty and an on-field spat with team-mate Mathieu Flamini made for a difficult night against the German champions for Ozil but Jack Wilshere pointed to the former Real Madrid man’s behind the scenes contribution on Saturday as evidence all is well with the club’s record signing.
“Mesut’s fine,” Wilshere said. “He’s a great character and he’s friends with everyone around the place. He’s got a dead leg which is not nice. But he’s in the dressing room helping the boys before the game, talking to me and telling me where to go. He’s a great character and he’ll be fine.”
Arsenal were never ruffled from the moment Olivier Giroud, back in the side after two games on the bench and a week in which his private life provided an unwanted distraction, scored in the fifth minute.
The France striker made it two from a poor back pass in the 31st minute and when Rosicky scored two minutes from the interval, the contest was over. Laurent Koscielny headed home in the 56th minute before Emanuele Giaccherini claimed a consolation nine minutes from time.
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet made no attempt to hide his anger, claiming his plans for Wembley had been left in shreds. He revealed the only certain starter was Lee Cattermole who had been left out on Saturday to avoid the risk of suspension.
“I don’t want to say something to get me fined but for me the referee was one who normally sends Lee Cattermole off,” said the manager.
“Add the fact that we were away to Arsenal. I am sure if we were to go two or three goals down, Lee is not the sort of player to have in the middle. I made a mistake when I said no one is guaranteed to play – if there is one player starting next week, it is Lee Cattermole. The rest at the moment are substitutes.”
ARSENAL (4-2-3-1): Szczesny 6; Sagna 7, Mertesacker 6, Koscielny 7 (Flamini 67,6), Monreal 6 (Jenkinson 46,6); Arteta 7, Wilshere 8; Cazorla 7, Rosicky 8 (Gnabry 73), Podolski 7; Giroud 9.
SUNDERLAND (4-1-4-1): Mannone 6; Bardsley 6, Vergini 4, O’Shea 5, Alonso 5: Bridcutt 6; Johnson 4 (Giaccherini 46,6), Ki 6 (Scocco 73) , Colback 7, Borini 7; Altidore 4 (Larsson 46,6).
Referee: Andre Marriner
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