Arsenal vs Manchester City
One of the more crucial games this season with 2nd vs 3rd at the Emirates. The winner would go further in their title race, catching up with United, while the other would have their title hopes dashed.
Arsenal fielded the same lineup as against Birmingham City where we won 3-0, but this time it’s against tougher opposition, against opponents not battling against relegation but for the title. However it was one that promised goals in the match, and as with Manchester City playing the same type of attacking formation (4-2-3-1) it would not be a surprise if we ended with a high-scoring game.
The chances fell for Arsenal as soon as the ball was rolling. A wild scramble for the ball around City’s box created a chance for Arsenal, who really should have put it away. City went on the counter, Milner going wide, but then it was back to City’s side with Wilshere shooting at Hart, and Van Persie hitting the left post! Wilshere has another chance, and that was all only in the first 10 minutes, where we should had at least a goal or two to show for it.
Arsenal were closing Manchester City down well, with them unable to salvage any good chances, as their midfield was breaking down and therefore they were unable to get to Milner, Jo or Tevez.
After a period in which both teams had chances another move down the left began, seemingly similar to the one where Van Persie hit the post. Fabregas took a touch, venturing inside the box and pulled the trigger.
Hitting the same post with the same passing move. Walcott tried to get it, but also failed to hit the target.
Tevez then started an attack of his own, but his powerful shot isn’t accurate enough and goes wide. Yaya Toure’s chance a minute later was broken down by some almost lucky Arsenal defending, however you could definitely say the same about City.
Back to Arsenal’s possession tactics now. It’s working, at half time Arsenal hold a game controlling 62%, Another chance for Arsenal, a chance to make it 1-0, as Walcott dashes down the right, thinks about going for a shot but doesn’t shoot, and when he does it’s more of a cross and the ball hits De Jong’s arm. De Jong has been booked already, is this a handball???
It wasn’t. Another piece of the jigsaw going wrong for Arsenal as the ball was floated away. It went to Van Persie who tried a curler from long range, finding its target but held safe by Hart. And in the final minute of the first half Tevez shoots a dipper but it’s inaccurate and misses.
The first half created plenty of chances but no goals, and both teams would want one ball in the back of the net instead of ten balls around the net.
Arsenal again started the half well, creating chances through the pacey Walcott and winning corners, hinting that a goal would be on the cards. But however close we came, including a well struck shot far out by Van Persie that was saved by Hart, we couldn’t find a way to venture into their box and get a decent shot in. The absence of Silva and Balotelli was clearly evident as Tevez dropped back, creating a gradual change from 4-2-3-1 to 4-5-1 to 5-5-0.
It was a match to forget, with Manchester City playing defensive, dour, negative football repelling every attack but failing to push forward.
The game went from bad to worse, as after seeming frustration from not getting a goal, Sagna appeared to headbutt Zabaleta. The ref sent them both off, however it was an unfair decision towards Zabaleta, who didn’t appear to make any contact with Sagna at all.
Towards the end of the match, when even Tevez went off for Boateng, a DEFENDER, it was very clear that City were playing for the draw and not anything else. City not deserving of anything in this drawn match, but somehow salvaging a point in a game where on paper both teams were supposed to be attacking and at each other’s goals.
Frustrating? Yes. An anticlimax beyond any expectations, with Manchester City’s negative, ultra defensive play weathering the storm beyond all predictions, including an embarrassing red card at the end of the game finished off one of the boring performances I have ever seen, with 5 shots by City, but with ZERO on target. How that is achieved among a team with such attacking talent I simply do not know.
The real winner at the end of this game was not Arsenal, not Chelsea, not any other team except Manchester United, this draw and with Spurs and Chelsea losing puts the title race more and more into their hands.