Welcome to Talking Heads.

Before and after every first-team fixture, our MatchDay Show co-commentator and an Arsenal blogger will have their say on the game.

Arsenal took on Sunderland in the Premier League on Saturday and our Talking Heads for this game were former Gunner Stephen Hughes and Andrew Mangan of Arseblog.

Read on to see what they had to say about the Gunners' opening game of the season.

Stephen Hughes

I enjoyed the game, although obviously it was a disappointing result in the end. I thought we played well at times and the pleasing thing was that there were some really good individual performances. It is just disappointing we didn't get the win in the end because we thoroughly deserved it, especially in the second half. Sunderland didn't offer a lot and it was all us. I thought Gervinho was outstanding and it was one of the best games I've seen him play. I thought he was a constant threat and he went past people at will. Cazorla looks a real player, he is very comfortable on the ball and set up a lot of chances. I am sure there is a lot more to come from him.

It is essential that Arsenal get off to a strong start and I'm confident they can do that against a Sunderland side who have endured a poor pre-season. With Carlos Cuellar the only real piece of business done by Martin O'Neill this summer, I fancy Arsenal's new boys to show their class on their full debuts for the Club. Lukas Podolski is a fantastic player and a wonderful signing, while Santi Cazorla should take the midfield to a whole new level. I'm also keen to see how Gervinho performs if selected because he is one player who can really push his game on this year. But Stephane Sessegnon will be a constant threat if fit, and we need no reminders of Sebastian Larsson's danger from set-pieces. Sunderland are a strong side but at home I think we will turn on the style and win comfortably.

Blog - Arseblog

Dropping two points at home on the opening day of the season wasn't really in the script but Sunderland are difficult to break down at the best of times and I think a combination of factors prevented us taking three points. Their defensive strategy meant we couldn’t get in behind them at all, and despite so much possession I felt we needed to vary things sooner. We didn't have much success in the wide areas and typically in a game like this we really pile on the pressure in the last 20 minutes, but the heat and a lack of physical sharpness came into play. However, there were positives. I thought Santi Cazorla was excellent and when he settles in properly he's going to be even better. We looked defensively sound (admittedly Sunderland didn't go for it in any way), and there was a good chance for Olivier Giroud late on. Not the ideal start but there's enough to build on, and hopefully a couple of additions to the squad before Sunday will boost things even further.

The sale of Robin van Persie might well overshadow the build-up to our first game this season, which is a real shame because I've been encouraged by the business we've done. The signings of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud certainly provide us with new and different options from a striking point of view, and the addition of Santi Cazorla to the midfield is genuinely exciting. The Spaniard is a very clever, creative player who will fill the gap that Cesc Fabregas left when he departed last summer. Obviously there are still issues in the team to sort out but we're in decent shape going into our opening game. The vibe from pre-season has been very good and although I'm a little concerned that the midweek internationals might impact on the manager's team selection more than we'd like, I'm confident we're going to get off to a good start this season. Arsenal win.

* The views expressed in Talking Heads do not necessarily reflect those of Arsenal Football Club or Arsenal Broadband Ltd

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source
20 Aug 2012