Arsenal 0 Sunderland 0

It was always going to be tough fare following Robin van Persie’s desire to listen to the little voice “inside him” advising that his future lay at Old Trafford. Arsene Wenger was reluctant to sell to a Premiership rival, and against a determined Sunderland was left to rue a lack of cutting edge upfront in the 0-0 at the Emirates. After saying he was happy to stay at Arsenal, Alex Song becomes the latest player to exit the Emirates, and shocked as they were, Arsenal fans will have to accept another season where two two top players want a move away from north London. However Arsenal still show promise.

Of course, Wenger knows Song’s intricacies better than anyone – he came to Arsenal as a 17 year old – so when reports emerged of his frustration’s Song’s poor time keeping and attitude reportedly to the frustration of the coaching staff, the decision for a £15 million move to Catalunya after a bid from Barcelona was sanctioned, seemed the best option.Turkish player Nuri Sahin is poised to join Arsenal on an initial season long loan move from Real Madrid, with a view to a permanent deal.

At the hot and energy sapping Emirates Stadium on Saturday, Arsenal created enough chances to get on the score sheet, with an eye catching debut from Santi Cazorla. The Spain midfielder oozes quality and class, and at 27 years old looks the part – dare we say better that Cesc Fabregas? Cazorla saw a dipping shot from range almost get the better of Simon Mignolet. Lukas Podolski showed flashes of brilliance and had he and the now fit again Abou Diaby been on the same wavelength the Gunners could have found the target after several sweeping moves.

Substitute Olivier Giroud later admitted to expecting more of an aerial battle against Sunderland, but his miss from twelve yards on receiving Cazorla’s intelligent pass highlighted the higher level of football the France player has to reach at the Emirates. Arsenal assistant manager Steve Bould won seven trophies under Wenger and the Gunners defensive clean sheet will be seen as a good starting point by the former central defender. Thomas Vermaelen looks the part as captain and when fit, Laurent Koscielny will put Per Mertersacker under pressure to start alongside Belgium international.

Of course a win would have been better for Wenger and Bould, and despite the departures, the signs at Arsenal look promising. That new mentality will be tested at Stoke at the week-end. Someone will need prepare Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud on what to expect in the Potteries.