Arsenal took on heavyweights Manchester City at The Emirates in a tight display last night. Man City dominated the first ten minutes with an absolutely glorious chance spurned by Kevin DeBruyne to square the ball to David Silva for a certain goal on 6minutes. Instead DeBruyne took a shot and pulled it wide, Silva was apoplectic, remonstrating with him, throwing his arms in the air. Such chances and instants change games.
Arsenal gradually increased their presence in the game and a sublime shot by Walcott from the edge of the box gave them the lead on 33 minutes. If you were critical you would say Sagna gave Walcott far too much room and space, but it was an exquisite effort. Arsenal had a gameplan of conceding possession, and trying to break on City, and taking the lead largely against the run of play meant Wengers men could execute their game plan to perfection.
City with Delph, Yaya, Silva, DeBruyne and Fernandinho in midfield lacked fluency. DeBruynes early effort was symptomatic of how City were playing almost as individuals and not as much as a team leading to a disjointed performance. Aguero was clearly not match fit, but was rushed back due to the fitful performances of Wilfried Bony. With Sterling being relegated to the bench for the more industrious more compact Delph, City lost much of the verve you associate with rampaging City performances.
A very poor clearance by Mangala, led to the ball being fed to Ozil who fed Giroud for Arsenals second goal on 46minutes just before half time. Ozil performed very well, and is the orchestrator of much of what is good about Arsenal and that takes his tally to 15 assists this year. As in the previous City game the Otamendi and Mangala centre back partnership does not instil any confidence.
Joe Hart will be disappointed both the goals went through his legs, which is either bad luck or poor positioning by England’s no 1. Martin Keown (the ex Arsenal Centre Back) made the point on MOTD2 it reflects very badly on City that they are so reliant on Vincent Kompany to keep clean sheets. The pairing of Otamendi and Mangala is a £65m pairing and they certainly do not perform to anywhere near their price tags.
The second goal just before half time seemed to knock the stuffing out of City, Pellegrini threw Sterling on at half time for Delph but he had negligible impact. Arsenal continued with their gameplan happy to concede possession and hit City on the break. Joel Campbell seems to be improving and he had what you would consider a couple of half chances to make it 3-0.
Whether it is the 50 Premier League goal threshold that Giroud passed last week (in his 113th game) or whether it’s his 3 goals away to Olympiakos to salvage qualification in the Champions League, Giroud is certainly playing with more confidence. He seems more assured of himself and puts himself about more.
There was a sense, much like with Adam Bogdan in the Liverpool game, DeBruyne’s mistake played on his mind. He was not able to have the impact he has had earlier in the season, it could simply be that defenders have analysed his style and are wiser about how to defend against him.
Ramsey playing centrally for Arsenal rather than the right midfield berth he had to accept when Carzola and Sanchez are fit, also helps to solidify Arsenal in midfield. Ramsey gave a cynical foul away tugging Silva when City broke. Ramsey has a positional discipline that is sometimes lacking in Cazorla.
A rapid interchange one two between Yaya Toure and Sagna, led to Yaya scoring a beautifully lofted goal in the 82nd minute. Even Petr Cech could just watch it sail by as it nestled in the top corner.
It led to a frenetic final 14 minutes, but Aguero having been subbed off earlier due to lack of match fitness meant City were still fairly toothless. Bony has struggled, and continues to struggle to make the impact one would have expected after his prolific form at Swansea.
It was a deserved win, sending the Emirates crowd home in a delirious fashion, City just did not do enough.
MOM Mesut Ozil