It was a great sight to behold as Arsenal well and truly outplayed Manchester City and delivered the killer blow to their title hopes with a well deserved 1-0 victory courtesy of yet another Arteta wonder-strike. No doubt Gunner’s fans, Arsene Wenger and the players will take some enjoyment of defeating a club which has made a habit of poaching our marquee players in recent seasons.
Even Wenger had time to joke when he was asked whether the result could be considered sweet revenge saying, “You can take it both ways. Maybe they’ll now want some others.” While it only ended up 1-0, it could have been so much more with Arsenal dominating much of the proceedings and admittedly wasting a few chances in front of goal, particularly Ramsey in the final minute of the match.
It was a performance where no one player really stood out among the rest, although every player put in their best efforts in to produce a great team performance. If I had to pick a stand-out though it would have to be Alex Song. The Cameroon midfielder put in an integral performance breaking up a number of City attacks and also put in a number to brilliant passes on attack, including another trademark over the top ball to Van Persie which unfortunately ended up hitting the upright.
While the win was a huge boost for the remainder of the season, it wasn’t all positive as Koscielny unfortunately picked up his tenth yellow card for the season meaning he will receive a two match ban. The Frenchman has been a key man at the back and will be missed in the next couple of weeks, but luckily for Arsenal the upcoming fixtures against lowly opposition in Wolves and Wigan should significantly dampen the blow.
A win as massive as this should definitely help us going into the last remaining six matches of the season!
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on Arteta’s winner and the performance…
It was a very well-taken goal. I think it gave us three points that we deserved because we had a consistent domination in the game. I think we had over 60 per cent possession. They had one or two good periods, Man City, but overall after 10 minutes in the second half it was all us.
I always felt the goal would come but it was very tight and in the end you feel it is important not to lose. But we kept going and at home recently we have produced some outstanding performances against any team. I am very happy that we got the win and the team continues to grow in quality.
on a fast start to the game…
We started strongly and stayed strong for nearly 80 minutes. I feel we had a little weaker period at the start of the second half where Man City came out a bit. But overall we had a consistent domination, we won the duels, and overall I believe the result is logical.
on Balotelli’s challenge on Song…
If the referee had television [replays] he would have given him a red card. I thought it was a bad tackle, I said to my physio ‘what happened to Song?’ because he said he was touched at the knee. I thought maybe it was a red card but I didn’t know until I saw it.
He [Balotelli] was on the fringe, in many situations, he flirted with orange a few times. In the end he got the second yellow card. I don’t know what [I would do with him], I don’t know him and it’s not my job to do that. I don’t want to interfere with Mancini’s job. Everybody has his cases in his own camp and I have enough work.
on strengthening their position ahead of Wolves trip…
Exactly. It will be a different game to today. This was a game with a lot of hype and focus, they [Man City] are involved in the championship, we are involved for the Champions League places. You have to deal now with a team that will fight not to go down so it will demand the same commitment. Wolves will fight for their survival and are dangerous as well.
on whether the title race is over…
Not completely. But there are six games to go and Man City are eight points behind so it makes their home game against Manchester United… they cannot afford to drop any points now. Once a team smells the stable they are difficult to catch in the final sprint.
on how different the season could have been…
We have taken 24 points out of 27 and the points we got, many of them were deserved. So we have improved as a team, that is 100 per cent for sure. We started from too deep and we got a blip in January that cost us severely because today we are nine points behind City. You could see that even starting where we started, if we had not lost our games in January we could be there [challenging].
Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Gibbs
Walcott Rosicky Benayoun
Van Persie (c)
Wojciech Szczesny | 6.5: Was hardly called into action, but was able to stay focused and deal with the rare threats City were able to produce.
Bacary Sagna | 8.0: With Balotelli refusing to track back, the Frenchman was able to torment former Arsenal defender Clichy down the wing by overlapping and whipping in a number of great crosses.
Laurent Koscielny | 7.0: Kept Aguero under wraps with relative ease. A solid performance was all that was needed from the Frenchman tonight. Unfortunate that our best defender this season will miss the next two games after picking up his tenth yellow of the season.
Thomas Vermalen | 7.0: Was very unlucky to block Van Persie’s goal-bound header early in the match. Otherwise the Belgian rebounded well from his poor performance last week to put in a typically solid performance. The Verminator is back!
Kieran Gibbs | 6.0: A shame that the young Englishman yet again succumbed to injury. Was his usual self on offence getting forward whenever he could, although needs to work on his crossing into the box. (56′)
Alexandre Song | 8.5: Excellent performance from the Cameroon midfielder in both attack and defense. Made a number of incisive passes and also broke up a number of City attacks.
Tomas Rosicky | 7.0: Came out firing in the early exchanges effectively utilizing his ability to run passed players and to pick a pass. While his crisp play faded a little in the second, overall it was a very good performance.
Mikel Arteta | 7.5: As always provided his team-mates with superb and accurate passes and also put in a number of very dangerous set-pieces for Joe Hart to deal with. His winning strike late in the match capped off a wonderful match for the Gunners.
Theo Walcott | 5.0: Tonight Walcott’s somewhat one dimensional play was exposed as his pace was matched well by former team-mate Gael Clichy. Needs to bring more variety to his game, as he was often stopped in his tracks by City’s defense. (86′)
Robin van Persie | 6.5: It was an unlucky night for the Dutchman as his first header was deflected into the post by Vermaelen, his second hit the upright and should have been tee’d up by Ramsey in the final minutes for a third attempt.
Yossi Benayoun | 6.5: All I can say is that this boy is a total work-horse. Never stopped working for the team and made a few good plays on attack. (78′)
- Notable substitutions
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