Welcome to a new feature on Arsenal.com - Talking Heads.

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

Arsenal took on Sunderland in the FA Cup on Saturday and our Talking Heads for this game were Dan Roebuck, Kenny Sansom and Leanne of LadyArse.

Read on for their post-match thoughts.

Dan Roebuck - Arsenal Live

Another one bites the dust. The match went like I thought it might; Arsenal dominated possession without finding a way through Sunderland's stubborn defence and then got caught on the break. Martin O'Neill always gets his sides to work incredibly hard and that is exactly what they did again on Saturday, and they deserved to win. Arsenal looked leggy and while they could possibly count themselves unlucky not to get a penalty in the first half when Robin van Persie appeared to be tripped in the area, they did not create enough to ever see them getting back into the game once they went one down. With Spurs up next they can't afford to feel sorry for themselves, they are still in the driving seat for fourth place in the Premier League and they must focus on that now.

You don't need me to tell you that this is a huge, huge game for Arsenal. Win and a trophy remains within reach; lose and all we'll have left is a race for fourth place. On the evidence of last Saturday's game we are in for another tight battle with Sunderland probably conceding possession to Arsenal and looking to hit them on the break. It worked for Milan in midweek and Martin O'Neill will try and use the pace of Sessegnon to do likewise. Gervinho is back and he'll have something to prove after his Africa Cup of Nations disappointment. I think Arsenal will repeat their 2-1 win and reach the last eight.

Kenny Sansom

Well a bad week just got worse. You could see the difference in energy levels between the two sides - Sunderland were well rested and tore into every tackle, while Arsenal looked tired. The pitch didn't help at all and neither did losing Francis Coquelin to injury so early. We actually started quite brightly but the longer the game wore on, the more Sunderland's pressing game had an effect and we looked out of sorts. They scored from their first real attempt on goal and from that point on Arsenal had to go for it, and we got caught again on the break for the second. It's really disappointing as I had hoped for a more high-tempo performance but their midweek game in Milan obviously caught up with them.

Arsenal will be down after the Milan game but the FA Cup should lift them - this is a special trophy and they need all the players to go out there and make sure they do their jobs. If they do that they've got a chance. There was no energy from them at the San Siro, it was too flat, and with the exception of Van Persie and Szczesny I think we need to see an improvement. I thought last weekend's game at Sunderland could easily have been a draw and this will be tight as well. Playing the same team so soon doesn't really matter because there is not a lot between these sides. It's a massive, massive game for Arsenal and I think they can get the right result.


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It’s not often I struggle to find a positive spin after a result but that is the strange position I find myself in after losing this match 2-0. Three injuries and out of the only trophy which gave us a realistic chance of silverware this season does not make for a fun afternoon. Sunderland gave a committed display in front of their home fans as we knew they would and credit must go to them for their determination to close us down all over the pitch and allow us no time and space. Heavy legs prevailed from the midweek trip to Milan but the team cannot allow themselves to wallow in this defeat with the North London derby on the horizon. Getting back to a match at the Emirates, where we know the pitch will be conducive to the football we look to play, will help considerably. With more than a week between games the team should be adequately rested and have put this last week behind them, enabling them to concentrate on cementing a Champions League spot for next season. Bad weeks happen in football and how you respond is often how you are defined.

This has been a tough week for Arsenal and both the team and fans need to shake off the disappointment of Wednesday night as soon as possible. Heading to Sunderland for the second time in a week, we know what to expect – a tough team who are well organised and hard to break down but Arsenal simply have no choice but to make a statement in the FA Cup. Losing Koscielny to injury midweek was a massive blow as he has been one of our best performers all season and just as we start to get our full backs fit again it seems doubly cruel to be losing our centre backs but there’s not much we can do about that. The injury-time winner against Sunderland last week will give the team some confidence but we will head to the Stadium of Light without Henry whose introduction made such an impact in the league. Arsenal simply cannot afford to feel sorry for themselves after their poor display in the Champions League and fans are expecting nothing less than 100 per cent effort and a marked improvement from midweek. Anything less and we will be heading home to London out of the FA Cup.

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

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20 Feb 2012