Keeper encouraged by bright performance

The Northern Echo: HANDS-ON APPROACH: Craig Gardner attempts to stop Santi Cazorla, scorer of Arsenal’s winning goal on Saturday HANDS-ON APPROACH: Craig Gardner attempts to stop Santi Cazorla, scorer of Arsenal’s winning goal on Saturday

SIMON MIGNOLET believes Sunderland deserved to take something from Arsenal on Saturday, but the Belgian keeper refused to get carried away with his own performance.

Mignolet made a string of impressive saves, particularly in the first half to deny the Gunners improving their one goal advantage and had it not been for the keeper, Martin O’Neill’s men would have been dead and buried by half time.

The 24-year-old is enjoying his best season since arriving from little-known Belgian club St Truiden in a deal worth £2m two-and-a-half years ago and he is fast establishing himself as one of the best young goalkeepers in the world.

Black Cats boss O’Neill hailed his shot-stopper “a gem” after his heroics on Saturday, but the modest 24-yearold isn’t getting carried away by his performances.

“Let’s not talk about those kind of things until the end of the season. I’ll speak about them then,” Mignolet said.

“There’s still enough to play for and I don’t want to talk about it being a good season because there’s still a lot to play for and the season can turn really quickly. I just have to watch myself and what I do in training and we’ll see at the end of the season.”

Mignolet’s goal was peppered by Arsenal attempts in the first half, but the 24-yearold pulled off some brilliant saves to deny Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla.

The Spaniard finally broke Mignolet’s resolve in the 36th minute, but the keeper admitted he had anticipated a busy afternoon with the array of attacking stars the Gunners boast.

He said: “The first half was quite busy. I expect that a bit against a team like Arsenal, who played really well in the first half and made it difficult.

“As a goalie, you know you have to do your job. I made a couple of saves, which kept the team in the game and I think we did really well in the second half.”

The Black Cats were helped by an injury that forced Jack Wilshere off, while Carl Jenkinson was sent off after receiving two yellow cards.

Despite riding a wave of attacks in the first half, it was the Black Cats who pressed for an equaliser in the second half and they went close on a number of occasions.

“(Jack) Wilshere fell down with the injury and the red card helped us a little bit but we stuck at it. It was the only thing we could do,” the keeper said. “In the end we were disappointed to go away with a loss even though in the first half we could have conceded more than one goal.

“I think there were positives from us. We stuck at it, we showed a good mentality, we did our very best in the second half to get a goal. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. I think that was the only thing missing second half.

“On the basis of that second half I think we deserved the point but we didn’t get it, so it was disappointing to go home without anything.”

Mignolet even went up for a corner in the dying seconds of the game and came close to getting a touch on the ball twice.

“It’s the last minute and you try and get yourself among the lads,” he said. “The ball came twice in my area but unfortunately I didn’t manage to get my head on it.

“I scored a goal for St Truiden in the Second Division. It was a penalty. We were leading 4-1 and it was the last minute.

I scored from the rebound.

“It’s one player extra in the box and nobody knows who to mark. They were already one man down and you never know.”

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