Score : Arsenal 0-1 Manchester City( goal by Agüero )
Man City lineup: Pantilimon; Onuoha, Savic, K. Toure, Zabaleta; Johnson, de Jong, Nasri, Hargreaves, Kolarov; Dzeko.
Arsenal Line Up: Fabianski, Djourou, Squillaci, Koscielny, Miquel, Frimpong, Coquelin, Benayoun, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Park, Chamakh
Substitutes lined up for Arsenal : Mannone, Yennaris, Vermaelen, Eastmond, Ozyakup, Gervinho, Arshavin.
As most of us would have predicted, Wenger went in with the blend of youth and experience and Mancini got a chance to let his bench warmers a chance to start. So it was the Youth vs Money, and one had to see what would be the outcome. The other matter of importance was the return of Nasri to the Emirates after his big money move to Manchester City, and all of us would have wished for a win for Arsenal. However we all knew it was going to be one tough match against the Manchester team because of their squad depth and experience at the big level.
Before the match started there were a minute silence for the Wales Manager who died last week. Arsenal was captained by Benayoun, the first time ever a on loan player wears the arm band for arsenal in any competition, and had two holding midfielders in Frimpong and Coquelin. Nasri’s comeback was not a easy one with he getting all the booing and any attempt of his on the ball was confirmed with a wide roar from the stadium.
The fans clearly showed their displeasure on his return and at the start there were chants of “If anyone hates Nasri please stand up” (or something like that) and we could see most of the Arsenal supporters standing. Now back to the game, this was a game that was supposed to be dictated in the middle and our midfielders did just that by breaking down the moves of the City midfield and moving forward. Park had the first chance of the match for Arsenal at 11 mins and it was beautifully saved by the giant Romanian keeper. Just a few minutes before Johnson had a go at the Arsenal goal and it clipped the nets and went out. In the 27th minute Chamberlain showed his class and it was again saved by the City keeper. There was almost a blunder by Fabianski in the 28th min but it went away and lucky for Arsenal didnt have Savic on the recieving end. Chamberlain looked the most promising Arsenal player in the first half doing all the cutting and running, and these kind of performance gives him a chance to fight for first team chances.
Frimpong and Coquelin made all the tackles in the midfield and frustrated the City Midfield and were making sure that they were not given an easy run forward. Frimpong needs a special mention on how he marked Nasri throughout the match. Just before half time Manchester City went for their first change of the match and it looked like Nasri wanted to get off the pitch but it was Kolarov who went out for Agüero.
The second half started with no further changes to both teams and it looked like Arsenal was the team to score with Chamberlain making move after move going forward but it was the finishing touch that was lacking for our team. There weren’t much change to how the team was moving and it looked like we were heading for extra time. But that was not to be and through some fine counter attack from Manchester City they saw themselves go one up through Agüero. He was helped by some sloppy work at the back and not a great jump from our Polish Keeper, and sadly it was a counter attack from a corner we took at the other end.
With lack of finishing from our forwards this goal was good enough to seal the match for Manchester and move them into the Semi-Finals of the Carling Cup. It was sad to see a Manchester City win at the Emirates while we dominated proceedings for most part of the game. But there are a lot of positives for Wenger and the club from this match on our future players and there was sense of happiness in a lot of the fans comments after the match on how well our lads matched the wealthy stars of Manchester City. The player that impressed the most was Chamberlain and he looked like a player set for regular football. Frimpong is another player who had a very good game and especially in keeping the likes of Nasri and Jong at bay. What he posses is the strength and the ability to go in for hard tackles. Another defensive Midfielder Coquelin too had a wonderful game and unlike Frimpong he relays on his pace and creativity and he is one player who seems to never loose steam. The back four had a pretty descent game except for when the goal was scored.
We seem to have some issues with our two forwards who played the match and they definitely seemed to be missing the final finishing touches. Maybe with a little more of games under their belt they might improve but for that they need to challenge Van Persie and we doubt that is ever going to happen with the form RVP is in. Fabianski seems to be one who would never be the first choice. There is a lot for him to improve on and sometimes his decision makings are scary at least from this match.
Overall it was a pretty decent game for both teams except for some words exchanged between Frimpong and Nasri at the end and while walking out of the tunnel. Mancini mentioned after the match that he wanted Nasri to play the whole match so that he gets used to how it would be to face Arsenal as both the teams would face each other in the league come this Dec 18th. With a lot of positives we can sign off for now and look forward for our next match in the league against struggling Wigan and after which we might see some of these stars to feature in the mid week match against Olympiacos in the champions league.
From AIS Desk