Both Manchester City and Arsenal will be ruing missed chances in what proved to be an open and free-flowing game. Granted Manchester City should have buried this game, particularly with Nasri’s misplaced pass that should have led to a Balotelli tap-in, but one still feels Arsenal were also hard-done by with a host of chances they should have also capitalised on.
Before I get into the actual performance of the players, I just have comment on the performance of referee Phil Dowd. I wasn’t sour at all about the soft yellow cards and also Kolo Toure’s challenge on Aaron Ramsey not being blown for a penalty kick, but when you are staring directly at Micah Richards handle the ball in the area at close range and fail to blow the whistle it is just un-freaking-believable. I don’t know if it was because of fear of backlash post-match or he is plain blind, but that was the most blatent penalty anyone will ever see, particularly at his vantage point.
Now onto Arsenal’s offence and it must be said that after good consistent performances Walcott failed to step-up and disappointingly was completely absent from the entire match. It is a shame to say because Walcott is a game-breaker and had the potential to be a great influence on the match. As for Gervinho, he was very frustrating at times but I am glad to say he improved in the second-half. Although his inability to be pick the right option on his final ball and dwell on the ball too long has been a consistent theme of his game and needs to be seriously addressed if he is to do justice to the dangerous positions he gets into.
One thing that baffles me was the decision not to bring Oxlade-Chamberlain into the squad. The young Englishman terrorised the likes of Zabaletta (who played in the absence of Clichy) in Arsenal’s recent Carling Cup match and one feels would have been a much more potent substitution than Arshavin who yet again produced a horrendous performance. One feels even Rosicky could have offered more with his creative play on the wing.
Enough negative for one day though. As a whole this team has improved immensely since the last trip to Manchester and defended collectively exceptional well. It is encouraging, but would have been a lot better to get some points on the day. We look forward now to Aston Villa who also lost this game-week to Liverpool. Hopefully the gunners bounce-back!
on a tight game..
I think it was a game that could have gone both ways. It was very intense with both teams going for it and I feel as well that we were a bit unlucky. Their keeper had a good game and we were a bit unlucky with the fact that we had to reshuffle completely at the back in a position where we are already short – we paid too much for that.
Overall I did feel at half-time that we would win the game if we stayed stable at the back. We lacked a bit of accuracy with our final ball in the final third as well because we had a few opportunities where we didn’t pass the ball well. But overall we had a very positive performance, great spirit, quality, but we lacked a little bit of what is vital in the big games.
I must say we have four full backs out and the first injury we get in the game is a full back. It’s not only down to resources, you cannot buy 17 full backs anyway. That is why I think we were a bit unlucky today.
on penalty claims against Richards…
Yes [I thought it was a penalty]. Honestly I haven’t seen it but Van Persie is adamant it was a 100 per cent penalty.
on Van Persie’s offside ‘goal’…
I haven’t seen it again but we know that these decisions can turn the game and they didn’t go for us today. We were unlucky with the decisions but we have to take it on the chin.
on the title race…
Unfortunately for us it was a game that we couldn’t afford to lose because it puts us too much [behind Man City]. If we had won the game we would have come back to six points and with players coming back like our full backs and Wilshere and Diaby – we will have a better squad in the second half of the season. At the moment we are too far behind.
Djourou Mertesacker Koscielny Vermaelen
Walcott Van Persie (c) Gervinho
Wojciech Szczesny | 8.0: The Pole made a number of crucial saves and has definitely cemented his spot as the Arsenal number one. Cannot be faulted for the solitary goal by David Silva
Johan Djourou | 6.0: Looked uncomfortable at right-back and was eventually subbed a few minutes into the second-half with a groin injury.
Per Mertesacker | 6.0: His lack of pace certainly isn’t suited to a team such as Manchester City. Had some clumsy moments but used his positioning and reading of the game to get out of tight situations.
Laurent Koscielny | 7.5: The Frenchman was solid all night and testament to him for improving immensely after a horrid performance the last time he was in Manchester for the Premier League. Only started to look a little wobbly when shifted out wide.
Thomas Vermaelen | 7.0: The made some vital interceptions and was defensively solid, but offered little down the flank while he was at left-back. Started to venture forward when time was ticking down and produced two wonderful curling efforts.
Alexandre Song| 6.5: Covered and tackled well for the gunners and put in a brilliant ball for Gervinho that was luckily saved by Hart. Although in saying this, was the player to let Balotelli get passed him into a scoring position which eventually lead to the goal.
Mikel Arteta | 6.0: Worked hard and was his usual tidy self, but never really threatened to bring anything game-breaking to the game.
Aaron Ramsey | 6.0: Like Arteta, the Welshman was tidy but never really brought a killer ball into the fray. Perhaps should have done better with his golden chance when tackled by Toure.
Theo Walcott | 4.0: The Englishman was totally absent from the game bar one pile-driver straight at Joe Hart. A disappointing display, particularly when looking at how good he has been playing in recent weeks.
Robin van Persie | 6.5: The Dutchman looked isolated up-front and struggled to deal with the powerful Kompany. Carved out a few opportunities and was unlucky to be ruled offside when he found the back of the net with a dinky chip.
Gervinho| 6.0: Although he was threatening and got into dangerous situations his final ball and decision making simply didn’t do any justice to the positions he had got himself in. Needs to address this to become a more complete player.
- Notable Substitutions
Ignasi Miquel | 6.0: Looked a little shaky to begin with, but soon settled on the flank and made some crucial tackles and looked comfortable on the ball.
Andrei Arshavin | 2.0: Unfortunately the little Russian failed miserably today in his cameo off the bench. Hardly put a foot right and really raises questions over why he is ahead of Chamberlain in the team.