There was a bit of
relief worry when Fabianski was thought to be injured before the game. Luckily he wasn’t…
The line up was unchanged from the Birmingham game, could we defeat the might of the petro dollar, could we pull away from the pack… well read on and I’ll tell you!
Alex Song has gone all David Beckham of late, as Geoff correctly called yesterday, the man from Cameroon rolled out onto the pitch with yellow hair and a yellow beard to match. I’m struggling to see why he’s decided to model himself on Portuguese drug cheat Xavier, but regardless, he’s managed to get an additional paragraph of PR on this Arsenal blog, so 1-0 to Mr Song!
Manchester City lined up in desperately negative fashion and in the opening 45 minutes, they were subjected to what can only be described as a mesmeric display of Arsenal power and dominance.
Almost instantly Samir Nasir and Cesc played some neat one two football in the middle of the park, Jack was found in space, he cut the ball across goal to Robin who failed to make connection by 2 inches. If only the Dutchman had eaten one less pie before the game (Euro 96 Gazza reference before food disorder groups get on my case).
Soon after, Jack Wilshere ripped a shot at Joe Hart’s goal, it was so fierce, the Englishman could only parry it. Proving this was not a one-off, Robin found some space with a Cruyft cut back and unleashed another thunderbolt at goal. Who told the boys they could shoot?!
Jack Wilshere nearly broke the deadlock again after placing a controlled volley to the right of Joe Hart. The City keeper was equal to the shot again. This was starting to feel like the Arsenal of old, pummeling the goal with little reward. Give me this type of game over a flat impotent possession football any day of the week!
As the game wore on, City started to gain a foothold, they were trying to control the pace of the game and keep it as dull as possible. They had their first chance from a set piece. The ball was launched to the back post, Sagna missed his header, Tevez cut the ball back but Song was on hand to clear.
We went up the other end, Cesc’s placed a shot at Hart’s near post, only to be denied by the woodwork, Theo was on hand for the rebound and hit the post again! It’s worth noting he was offside.
The final bit of controversy of the half came when Theo was slipped in by Robin, Kompany went to defend, Theo crossed and hit the ugly Belgians claw but the ref deemed it accidental handball. If you took your £6.99 Arsenal branded goggles off, you’d probably say that was a fair decision.
The second half started off with slightly less fanfare.
Van persie went close when he weaved his way into the box but selfishly tried to fire in from a nightmare angle.
He then unleashed a powerful shot from 30 yards that Joe Hart managed to tip round the post superbly well.
The second half was a much flatter occasion, it seemed as though we’d peaked too soon and we never really recovered the same excitement, tenacity or creativity. That was a shame, but I guess you have to hold your hands up and say City are an exceptionally talented squad of top professionals. You can’t really expect to dominate in the way we did for 90 full minutes.
The only real excitement came late on in the half when Sagna and Zabaleta clashed down the right. It was a bit of a nothing challenge, but the Frenchman felt aggrieved, jumped up and butted the City man twice. They both received red cards, which was probably a bit unfair on Zabaleta.
I really hate to see players head butting, it’s a vile act and not really the Arsenal way. It’s also very odd to see a player as placid as Sagna act in such an ill disciplined manner? Maybe he was upset that the worst haircut in the team no longer belonged to him? Maybe he was frustrated by the light blue chavs failure to play football. Who knows… it’s just a pain we lose a top performer for a minimum of 3 games.
Thoughts on the game?
Well, on the strength of that game, if City are title contenders, then so are we. The first point is that we didn’t lose the game and we’ve taken 4 points off a top 4 rival this year. We absolutely showed we were the better team out there today and we played some superb football in the first half.
I think it’s absolutely shameful that a team worth £170million can come to London and play that negatively. If I were a City fan I’d be embarrassed I had a coach as wimpy as that. Playing surrender football in the Premier League goes against all we know, blasphemous if you will. Playing defensively with that side is like buying a £3million country manor and sleeping in the shed.
I’m a little disappointed we didn’t go for the jugular in the second half. I thought maybe the coach could have changed things up earlier in a bid to snatch the three points, but the simple fact is that if win our game in hand, we’ll be second, though a massive 7 points off the top of the table (assuming United win their game in hand).
For me, tonight simply proved how wrong Wenger was to rest 8 players against Wigan and how costly those dropped points were early in the season. It’s ok saying it was a tactical masterstroke because we had players fresh for Birmingham, but when you look at the festive mini table out of the top 5, we finished 4th. Those 2 dropped points mean that instead of United having to drop points in 2 games for us to catch them, they’ve now got to drop points in 3 with us taking the maximum from ours.
Insurmountable? Of course not… A big ask? I think so. United have all the experience going into this home stretch. On the flip side of the coin, it is always nice to be the underdog. Arsene certainly thrives on that label and it relieves the pressure. It’s United’s to lose and we’re only in January. It doesn’t matter how great you are, that is a lot of pressure to carry for 4 months!
From now until the end of the season, the tinkering has to stop. Rest players by all means but not to the detriment of team understanding or shape. Dont try to appease the dressing room sulkers and don’t try to spin us a yarn that the team with the youngest average age (you do keep reminding us of this fact) needs the most rest. I read an interview last year from Alex Ferguson and he said you shouldn’t need to convince players they’re not tired in the home stretch, the adrenaline carries you home.
Wenger, be a winner from now until the end of the season. Show us you’ve got the courage to see this season through. We won’t get a better opportunity than we have now… with the right decisions, we could end this May with something more exciting than a Carling Cup, it’s down to you though to be ruthless and intelligent with your team.
Last night might not have been the desired result, but we’re starting to find our style again and we kept a clean sheet.
Lets take the positives and move onto the next game!
See you in the comments!
P.S. According to the media yesterday, Spurs were in it, Chelsea were not despite the muppets down the road only being a point above the Chav’s. They both lost last night, so as far as I’m concerned, they’re both out the race.
Fabainski – Very little to do. His kicking was good. 6
Sagna – He nearly cost us from a set piece and managed to land himself a red card. 5
Clichy – I thought he had a solid game. No drama. 6.5
Kozzer – Always plays more advanced than JD mopping up on the ground and on the floor. He likes playing with the Swissman. Again, no drama. 7
JD – Made a couple of super interceptions and kept City boys very quiet. 7
Song – I thought he had an excellent game. Is it a coincidence I have blonde hair and so does Song? Probably not. He had great discipline today and did his job well. 8.5
Jack – Much more of an attacking threat than he has been of late. Combative in the middle of the park, crisp with his passing. 8
Cesc – Menacing in the middle as always. Chipping away City all game. Unlucky not to score and assist on a few occassions. 8
Walcott – Starting to use his pace in a more productive way. He’s also showing that he knows how to turn defenders and create space for himself. Very impressive. 8
Nasri – He’s a dream to watch this year, he’s skillful, aggressive and powerful. I love him. 8
RvP – Slowly beginning to find his feet. I think his freekicks are poor and wasteful though. Needs to get a bit more snap into his first time shooting. 7
Bendtner – Didn’t really do much. 6
Arshavin – Clearly not the impact sub I’d hoped he’d be! 6
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