Monday, 25 October 2010

City 0 - 3 Arsenal

  • Playing for 85 minutes undermanned against Arsenal is difficult. In fact, of all the teams in the country Arsenal are the side against whom playing 10 v 11 is hardest. Their passing, movement, their confidence in possession stack the odds in their favour almost insurmountably. So to lose 3-0 in a match that was almost wholly framed by Dedryck Boyata's early dismissal (about which there can be no complaints) is no disgrace. In fact, we played with unity and tenacity, and those players that stayed on (Wayne Bridge aside) can be fairly proud of themselves.
  • What would have happened in 90 minutes of 11 v 11 is unknowable and not worth wasting time on. But in the first five minutes we looked sparky, and David Silva drew the first of a range of good saves from Łukasz Fabiański. But we could not make the pressure tell and Boyata was off for chopping Marouane Chamakh soon later. It was a big call from Mancini picking Boyata over Joleon Lescott, who isn't exactly error-prone himself, but it might have been a step too far for the youngster. What Mancini did get right, though, was his next decision. He moved to 4-3-1-1, with David Silva behind Carlos Tévez. So many coaches would have abjured magic and gone 4-4-1. But Mancini chose to maximise strength rather than compromise weakness, a bold move from a supposedly 'negative' manager.
  • What followed was a surprising even passage of play. We kept things tight in the middle, while naturally sacrificing space in wide areas. And while Arsenal scored first - Gareth Barry, playing at left back, decided against tracking the wonderful Samir Nasri into the box - we created our own chances too. Silva and Tévez drew saves from Fabiański while Richards and Adebayor missed when they ought to have done better. We needed Joe Hart to save a penalty to keep the deficit to one but the game did not feel over.
  • There was a definite sense, though, that our chances of equalising were diminishing by the minute. 10 v 11 is tiring, and our share of possession was noticeably shrinking. The longer the game went on, the more of the ball Arsenal had, the more exhausted our players were and the less creative we were on the break. When Alex Song thumped home Arsenal's second (assisted by Wayne Bridge) it was clear that we were going to lose. But we still worked hard, defending well enough and working the occasional opening at the other end. Nicklas Bendtner's third was a reward for Arsenal's possession but felt tough on our ten remaining men.
  • So there were at least as many positives as negatives. At no point did we fold or collapse or implode. We continued to play our football throughout, and had we caught Fabiański on one of his off-days we might have scored once or twice. We played England's best possession footballers undermanned and for the best part of an hour we made them sweat. It's a disappointment from a table perspective but I would have taken being equal on points with Arsenal and United almost one quarter of the way through the a season. And, if we're going to lose, there are worse ways to spend an afternoon than watching Cesc Fàbregas and Samir Nasri play football.


jackblue said...

Fabianski was voted 'Man-of-the-Match' by Arsenal supporters on the Arsenal official site. Saya it all really.

StanMCFC said...

Tevez going off injured was also pivotal. Unfair i think to single out Bridge. Bit unlucky when ball bounced off him into path of Song. Boateng also guilty of pathetic defending when got muscled off ball in comedic fashion.

All in all, not half as bad as the pundits are making out! Hopefully we can bounce back vs Wolves and go into the derby full of confidence!

cesc la vie said...

I thought City were excellent yesterday, despite the almost impossible task of playing a buoyant Arsenal side with a man deficit for 85 minutes. Fabianski's two saves from Silva, the first early on and the second at 0-1 was the other difference today. Eventually Arsenal made the advantage count and did what they do best, which is play possession football. Nasri had his best game of the season, and though our defence looked shaky, the profligate Adebayor was never going to be on the winning side today.
Good luck for the rest of the season.

Myeral said...

Pretty much spot on, I reckon, though I guess you meant that Lescott isn't exactly error-free rather than error prone? Have to agree also with StanMCFC that Adebayor on for Tevez was a pivotal moment. One makes things happen, while the other... doesn't.

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