Sunderland boss hails players’ character, despite defeat at Arsenal

Billy Jones harries Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez. Picture by Frank Reid
Billy Jones harries Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez. Picture by Frank Reid
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Arsenal’s quality shone through in the end, but David Moyes praised the character of his Sunderland players in last night’s defeat to the Gunners.

Sunderland were widely criticised following the dismal home defeat to Swansea City at the weekend – with Moyes also hitting out at his players – but, despite going down 2-0 to Arsenal, it was a much-improved display by the Black Cats.

A second-half double from Alexis Sanchez sealed victory for Arsenal, who peppered Jordan Pickford’s goal with 36 attempts at the Emirates Stadium.

But Moyes was happy with the effort and character from his players.

Moyes said: “I thought the team did a lot of good things. I thought they showed great character.

“We set up to make it difficult for Arsenal, and I thought, for long periods, we did that. Not only that, we created opportunities and the players worked really hard.

“More importantly, I thought we passed the ball well when we got it, and I thought the players played like we’ve probably played for eight or nine weeks.

“But because we can’t get the first goal, it makes it really difficult. If we’d got the first goal, maybe we would have given ourselves something to hold on to.”

Nobody could question the effort of the Sunderland players at the Emirates and Moyes refuted any suggestions that teams with little to play for wouldn’t give their all.

Moyes added: “I think that’s an insult to footballers. I’ve been a player myself, and I’d hate that anybody was questioning that I wasn’t going to be playing, or I was going to chuck it.

“That would probably get my goat more than anything. I don’t think the Sunderland players did that.

“We didn’t play well on Saturday and we know that – it didn’t look good enough and it wasn’t good enough.

“But I think tonight you would say Sunderland had a go and tried to score at times, even though we were outclassed in the end by a better footballing team than we were.

“The teams in the Premier League have too much pride, and so do the players.

“When you’re brought into this country, you’re brought up to know that every game matters.

“Whatever team you support, or whoever you play for, you play for the jersey. You would hope that every player would do that.”