Rowell Report: Poor decisions aside, Arsenal deserved win at Sunderland

Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist
Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist
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THERE’S no getting away from the fact that Jozy Altidore’s goal-that-never-was changed the whole complexion of Saturday’s game.

Only the referee knows why he refused to play the advantage rule in that moment and then compounded his error by showing Bacary Sagna a yellow card when it should have been red.

There can’t be much more evidence that Altidore was denied a goal-scoring opportunity than the fact that he actually went on to score while the Arsenal defenders were desperately trying to prevent it.

Had the goal stood, it would have levelled things with the momentum swinging Sunderland’s way and who knows what might have happened then?

These things are difficult to take, but there’s nothing we can do about it now and we must move on.

It is important that Sunderland do not dwell on it, or worse, develop a victim complex as this just makes things worse in the long run.

Over the 90 minutes, I felt Arsenal were the better team and although they got the breaks they probably deserved to win.

Sunderland were very poor in the first half, as Arsenal dominated possession and I was thankful we were only one goal down at half-time.

The second half was much more like it and we seemed to find another gear as we took the game to the Gunners.

We genuinely rattled the Arsenal defence for a good part of the second half with a spell that was the best we’ve produced this season.

I was encouraged by what I saw from Sunderland in the second half and that’s why the Altidore incident was so disappointing, frustrating and so pivotal to the outcome of the game.

So Sunderland again end a game with nothing, but maybe for the first time we saw signs of the team coming together.

I would be a liar if I said I wasn’t worried about our start to the season as one point from 12 really isn’t good enough and sooner rather than later results must improve if we are not to find ourselves cut adrift at the bottom of the table.