Saturday, 12 September 2009

City 4 - 2 Arsenal

  • A famous, thrilling victory. I said before the game that we still had a lot to learn about City, and that we would be taught much by today's events. Much of what we saw fits with we what we already know, some of it was new. But it was a sign that we can live with the big boys - the first real test for this new City team. And that we may well re-create last season's exceptional home farm.
  • How else to deal with this than chronologically? It was a game of distinct phases - no pattern lasted for too long, and momentum flowed like a Test match. Our best session of play was for the best part of the first half. After a brief impressive start from Arsenal, we controlled the play. Hughes' tactic of pairing the excellent Nigel de Jong with Gareth Barry (£30m worth of holding midfielders) in front of Joleon Lescott and Kolo Touré (almost £40m worth of centre back) worked perfectly. And both wingers - Bellamy and Wright-Phillips - impressed with their work rate, always tracking back when needed. Our goal was fair reward.
  • As with the Wolves and Blackburn games, though, we surrenderred momentum after half time. We lost the ability to hold onto the ball, control gave way to chaos. In fairness, Arsenal significantly improved. They passed and moved as only they can, forcing us further back. Barry and Ireland went missing. And, on 66 minutes, Joleon Lescott slipped, Robin van Persie turned and Given conceded his first goal of the season. Arsenal continued to dominate, and looked most likely to win.
  • Which I hope serves as context for the remarkable ten minute period when we won the game. We may have been on the back foot, but three counter-attacks transformed the game. All three goals started with rapid, tireless runs - Micah Richards, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Craig Bellamy, before good assists and consummate finishes from Bellamy, Adebayor and Wright-Phillips respectively. Not since Ronaldo's masterclass at the Emirates last spring have Arsenal been so cut to pieces on the counter.
  • There was still time, though, for us to switch off and allow Arsenal back into the game. We only conceded one but it could have been more, and a harder finish would have followed. But this is a mere quibble. It was a thrilling win against a very good team. Not the perfect performance, yes, and maybe not enough for a result at Old Trafford next week, but excellent nonetheless. And with £96m of attacking talent out injured too.

1 comment:

TPB said...

credit has to be given to Hughes for switching to 442 becuase when we brought petrov on we were under the cosh and the whole stadium would have taken a point. it was a symbol of the club's ambition as it showed we wanted to win the game