Monday, 9 April 2012

Arsenal vs Man City Post Match thoughts and Player Ratings

Evening all,

Arsenal 1 – 0 Man City
Arteta 87

Yesterday we all witnessed a scintillating encounter with two intrinsically different sides. On the one hand we have a side intent on buying success with frivolous spending on lavish big name players widely contrasting the home side, whom have a different ideology entirely. Arsenal are a club that has developed somewhat of a reputation to be frugal spenders and very particular in their transfer dealings. There is an emphasis on value for money, opting for cheaper, younger players who they can mould into The Arsenal way.

You would not be surprised to hear that the Man City bench cost far more than the entire starting XI Arsenal fielded yesterday. It was in that light surprising then that the team in Red and White were dominant. One could be forgiven for thinking that the big spending superstar purchases must have surely been playing for The Arsenal. It was not only the manner in which Arsenal played the match but also the manner in which Man City played: completely devoid of any threat, where the “ready made superstars” were largely anonymous throughout from a footballing perspective.

Of course one of these lavish signings made his mark on the tie. The idiocy of Balotelli should not detract from how poor the rest of his team were. The fact that he was allowed to be on the pitch following one of the foulest challenges I have seen is unbelievable given the linesman’s positioning. Let’s just hope justice is done and this incident is looked at by the authorities. You would imagine a retrospective ban will essentially rule the Italian out for most of the season.

Either way, the side show aside, what we witnessed was a great performance from Arsenal but one that was made possible due to strange tactics to try and stifle Arsenal from Mancini’s men. He set his team out to match our midfield which essentially rendered most of the City attack useless. Aguero was playing on his own up front and was completely isolated, Nasri did not produce any moment of any description, good or bad and Balotelli was genuinely average. Their attacking threat was completely nullified through crisp and fast passing with Arteta, Song and Rosicky winning the midfield battle by out working, out passing and out playing their opposition.

To say that the score line could have read 4-0 would be no exaggeration and would in no way have flattered us as we played a solid game from beginning to end. I would say there was a brief moment that we weren’t in complete control but that aside it was an assured performance from an increasingly confident side. Van Persie (twice), Walcott, Vermaelen and Benayoun all had excellent opportunities to score before Arteta’s eventual winner, hitting the woodwork three times in the process. But when the winner came, there was no such luck for the petro-dollar funded outfit. After winning possession, Arteta unleashed a thunderous strike from outside the area to confine Man City to a season without winning silverware.

Even a goal couldn’t spring Man City into life as after the goal the best chance still fell to an Arsenal shirt. Despite a fantastic run and shimmy to create an opening for himself, Aaron Ramsey found his recent finishing form continue in the most spectacular of fashions as he blazed high and wide when hitting the target would have been easier.

All in all though, it was a good performance which highlights one thing for me. This team has a strong foundation and has the potential to be a great team with the right additions. It is a team which has proven to have a mental toughness of late and one that, injuries permitting could have potentially mounted a title challenge.

It would be interesting to see how the season would have panned out had we done all our “panic buying” at the start of the summer instead of when we were 17th in the league. Impossible to predict the difference but I would imagine it would have been far less stressful than the season we have had to endure thus far.

The result yesterday was essential with Tottenham dropping points prior to the match but was made all the more enjoyable given that their implosion continues after suffering another defeat to Norwich City this afternoon. Now we need to compound their misery further by extending our lead over them to 5 points when we play Wolves on Wednesday.

It is fair to say I feel very content at the moment.

Player Ratings

Wojciech Szczesny - 6.5
Had little to do aside from one save from an Aguero header and some sweeping duties. Coped well and aside from one wayward kick was solid.

Thomas Vermaelen – 7
Following on from his poorest performance, Vermaelen had a fantastic game. Was defensively solid and drove the team forward from the defence. Missed a golden opportunity and unluckily prevented a goal bound header from Van Persie.

Laurent Koscienly - 7
Was solid and rarely threatened. Kept a world class attack quiet and never strayed from his responsibilities. Solidifying a rapidly growing reputation as a great centre back.

Kieran Gibbs – 6.5
A decent performance where he was rarely threatened.

Bacary Sagna – 7.5
Continues to impress and highlight his importance to the team. Was a monster in defence and provided a great attacking threat. Is clearly the best right back in the league for my money.

Mikel Arteta – 8
Some neat passing in the middle and was defensively responsible. Provided a link between Song and Rosicky to keep things ticking over throughout the match with faultless distribution. Capped off a great performance with a superb goal to win the match. Deserves all the plaudits.

Alex Song - 7
Another great ball which could have resulted in a goal. Aside from a few wayward passes had a great game in which he helped control the midfield and as a result the match. Forging a great understanding with his midfield partners.

Yossi Benayoun – 6.5
Played well and worked his socks off. Was unable to score when it seemed that it would be harder to miss but looked assured throughout without ever being menacing.

Theo Walcott – 6
Was the quietest of Arsenal’s players but still had a relatively good game. Struggled with his final ball at times but was unlucky not to have a goal to his name. Active throughout the match but was eventually replaced by Chamberlain.

Tomas Rosicky – 7.5
Amazing turn of pace took the game to the opposition. They struggled to deal with his directness and he was very much a contender for man of the match. Some great passing and vision.

Robin Van Persie – 7
Could have scored but was prevented by the offside flag, the post and inexplicably his own team mate.

All the team played well and worked hard for each other. Let’s just hope the Tottenham slip up provides all the motivation to continue in this vein in our next game. I cannot wait!

And with that I shall leave you to enjoy the rest of your evening.


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