First thing’s first.
YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! GET IN THERE! HAVE SOME OF THAT YOU MANCUNIAN BASTARDS!
Now, down to business.
Absolutely brilliant performance from our boys today, and we deservedly came away with all three points and a welcome boost to our goal difference to boot. We haven’t won a big game in ages, and this seemed to have all the characteristics of another loss. Away from home against a team that kept out Chelsea, who specialise in keeping teams out. The injuries aren’t so bad right now – Van Persie, Vermaelen and Ramsey were the only absences that were felt – you’ll find out why Almunia’s was more of a blessing than a curse as you read on. But the nerves were a-janglin’ in the build-up to the game, especially with Emmanuel Adebayor waiting in the wings to come on from the bench and score against his former team.
The big team news for us was that Denilson was playing alongside Song, and not Diaby. At first it seemed the Brazilian had just been preferred to Diaby, but we soon found out that may not have been the case, as Diaby wasn’t even on the bench. Or maybe Wenger’s realised just how awful he is. Sagna slotted back into right back after his absence, and other than that the defence was as we expected. Koscielny returned from a back injury, but was only fit enough for the bench. Fabregas played in the hole behind Chamakh, who was supported by Arshavin and Nasri on the wings.
City made a lively start after a minute’s applause for Malcolm Allison (RIP). Micah Richards bombed down the right flank and pulled it back for David Silva, who flicked the ball on goal. Fabianski showed us his cat-like reflexes to stick a hand out and not only prevent the ball from going in, but stop it in its tracks too. Great save, but the signs early on weren’t too good.
On the five minute mark though, there was a big moment. Cesc slipped in Chamakh, and the relatively inexperienced Derdyk Boyata slid in as Chamakh bore down on the penalty area. He didn’t get the ball, sliced through the Moroccan, who went down, and as last man, he had to go. He had no complaints, putting his hands to his head as he slid to a halt on the edge of the area. After some delay, Mark Clattenburg rightly showed him the red card, and City were down to ten men with 85 minutes left.
Djourou then nodded over unmarked from a great Sagna cross, but that was all forgotten when Nasri and Arshavin combined to great effect. Nasri made himself some space, found Arshavin, continued his run, received the return ball, and stroked it calmly past Hart. Superb goal – Arsenal written all over it. 1-0 the Arsenal.
We started getting a little nervous though, and there were yellow cards for Fabregas, Denilson, Song and Djourou. It didn’t seem likely that we were going to finish the game with 11 men. We desperately didn’t need to give the referee a reason to even things up, so our midfielders in particular were walking on egg shells.
Fabregas made a great run and burst into the penalty area, and was brought down by Vincent Kompany, who protested his innocence in vain. Clattenburg pointed to the spot, and we had a chance to go two up. Cesc took it, and I was dreading it, thinking but not daring to say “He’s due a miss”. He was, and that’s what he got. Fair play to Joe Hart though, he guessed the right way and flung himself at it, and did excellently to stop it and keep hold of it. Five minutes to go of the first half, and we were given an unwanted flashback of the Sunderland match, when Rosicky skied a penalty at 1-0 and we ended up conceding a last minute equaliser. City were on the front foot, spurred on by the penalty save. The whistle for half time came at the right time for us, and we could regroup, come out in the second half and put the game beyond City.
Fabianski made a stunning save early in the second half from David Silva, finger-tipping a shot around the post. It was certainly goal-bound. Then Arshavin swung a great ball back down to Nasri, who knocked the ball into the box. Chamakh won it in the air, and it fell for Song, who produced an excellent finish to arrow it into the very top corner to make it 2-0. He kissed the badge as our away fans, including my brother and his friend, went mental.
Some more stunning Fabianski saves followed, including one from Adebayor, who was actually flagged offside. He then missed a golden opportunity to make it 2-1, before Nicklas Bendtner came on to clinch victory. Nasri slipped him in, and he buried it coolly. 3-0, game over. And what a game it was.