Manchester City 1 (Lescott 41) – Arsenal 1 (Koscielny 82)
Man of the Match – Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)
Ok, I am a bit hoarse now, and really exhausted after 5 thoroughly entertaining hours in front of the television, but, here goes, the match report of the game between Cash and Class, or was it Manchester City and Arsenal!
First up on the evening was the much talked about and much awaited match between Liverpool and Manchester United at an emotionally charged Anfield. Handshakes went on as usual between these two sets of players, erm, I mean unusually between these two sets of players. It was good to see the good spirits fostered in both camps before kickoff, but after it, it was going to be a battle ground.
Well, I thought Liverpool played really well throughout, and they were rather unfortunate to have Jonjo Shelvey sent off. Yet, even with 10 men, they looked the better side. Steven Gerrard scored a fine goal, before Rafael curled a left-footed strike of his own. And then Manchester United do what they do best, dive. Antonio Valencia fumbled over like a stack of dominos, leaving Lord Robin, our master and saviour to score the winner. I really thought Liverpool deserved atleast a point for the heart they displayed.
Anyways, the second big game of the day. There were some surprising selections from both sides. First of all, for Manchester City, Scott Sinclair started on the flank. Up front, instead of Tevez and Aguero, as was most expected, it was Aguero and the big Bosnian Edin Dzeko.
As for Arsenal, Thomas Vermaelen pulled out with a flu. This meant Laurent Koscielny finally got a start. In midfield, Arsene Wenger shuffled around a bit, starting with Aaron Ramsey, and going with what can be described as two up front. In fact, we had 4 central midfielders, in Diaby, Cazorla, Arteta and Ramsey, which doesn’t happen too often, unless you only watch the Spanish national side play football.
On to the game then. Arsenal started the brighter of the two sides, with some intricate and neat passing. There were some tight situations, but the midfield expertly waded out of them. However, it was City, who had the first real chance, when Aguero tested Mannone from distance.
Arsenal had a great chance to take the lead, when Aaron Ramsey spotted the run of Gervinho, who was giving Gael Clichy a torrid time with his pace and skills. Gervinho, however, had a poor touch, which rolled right into the palms of the City goalkeeper Joe Hart. The sheer persistence of Carl Jenkinson was evident on one ocassion, when he outran and outmuscled Jolean Lescott to a stray ball, and set up Lukas Podolski, who skied the effort off his wrong foot.
Santi Cazorla was particularly impressive in the first half, overshadowing his countrymen in the opposition, David Silva and Javi Garcia. He himself tested Joe Hart twice, one with a free kick that was well saved. Arsenal created and wasted more chances, as Gervinho managed to find only the side netting, and a Gibbs cross was cleared by City’s defence.
It was the hosts, however, who took the lead, completely against the run of play, when Jolean Lescott made most of some slack Arsenal defending as well as a howler from Mannone, to head home a Silva corner, to take the champions into the lead at half-time. They however, could have had one more, when a shot from Dzeko was just about tipped over the post by Mannone.
City emerged in the second half, with the out of sorts Scott Sinclair being replaced by Jack Rodwell. This seemed to slightly help City, as they managed to keep better and more meaningful possession in the opening stages of the second half.
Sergio Aguero had a chance, when he was left to shoot, but for a last ditch challenge from Koscielny. The honest Argentine, unlike the chums from Manure, did not tumble and persisted to take a shot, which he missed. The Citizens had another go at goal, when the impressive Yaya Toure came plundering down midfield, and probably took too much time weighing his options, before setting up Aguero.
Arsenal made some tactical changes, with the slightly tired looking Lukas Podolski and Abou Diaby being replaced by Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott, to add some freshness.
The Argentine, however, under pressure from Laurent Koscielny could only force a save from Mannone. On the other end, Arsenal were showing some more urgency, with a fantastic shot from Cazorla forcing an equally fantastic save from Hart. The Gunners did not have to wait long, however, as Cazorla’s corner was only half cleared by Jolean Lescott.
It fell right into the path of Laurent Koscielny, who finished like the boss that he is. A bit of shouting and screaming later, which rendered my vocals hoarse, Arsenal were back to being Arsenal, and almost conceded a second, when Vincent Kompany reignited the spirit of Pele, Mannone the spirit of Gordon Banks, Koscielny the spirit of Pascal Cygan and Aguero the spirit of Gervinho. If you didn’t get it, Kompany tried an overhead kick, forcing a fine save by Mannone (Szczesny who?), which fell to Koscielny, who could only half clear it, into the path of Aguero, who missed with the goal gaping wide open.
Arsenal should have had all 3 points in the bag, when Gervinho ran into some good space, before reigniting his own spirit, to hoof the ball into the Greater Manchester Area. He was replaced immediately by Coquelin.
As the whistle blew, it bought an end to a thoroughly absorbing, may I say, technical contest between the two sides. Arsenal were slightly better than their opponents on the day, but still would be pretty pleased taking a point back to North London.
Positives and negatives then. Let’s start from the back. Mannone made a couple of good saves today. Laurent Koscielny proved why Arsene Wenger will have a tough headache over selecting his defence in coming games. He had a good game, and cleared the danger several times, with Aguero/Tevez/Balotelli lurking around. Per Mertesacker, was Germanly efficient today. He made 7 interceptions, or should we say ‘Merteceptions’! Carl Jenkinson, again, very very tireless. He could have run the marathon twice today. Gibbs was left a bit bare defensively, going forward, but he was good overall.
In midfield, Arteta was again very impressive, helping us get out of tough situations. Diaby was a bit suscpect today, and you can understand why. He hasn’t played so much for so long, so a good week’s rest should do him fine. Cazorla, what can I say about the little magician. He dictated our gameplay for long periods, his vision to pick out a pass, or a player will be vital. Aaron Ramsey, after all the hard time, we have given him, showed what he is capable of. He had a very tidy game, and did his specific role very well. Podolski looked slightly less sharper than usual, and Gervinho looked as sharp as he usually is, if you know what I mean. He had the game’s best two chances, and he missed both.
Of course, we all would have loved to go away with all 3 points, but none the less, a point from the Etihad is priceless. It is a tough place to go to, and surely we seem to have a good bit of momentum going for us.
The epic tweet of the day comes from Rhys Hardstaff, who says “The height difference between Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker and Santi Cazorla is hilarious. They hug and Mertesacker lifts him clean off the ground!”If you missed it, here it is.
A word of appreciation for the Arsenal fans at the stadium today, who were louder than the glory hunters for most of the afternoon, and also for the amazing Poznan they did when Bosccielny scored! Roll on Chelsea!
Jai Arsenal 🙂