Thursday, 6 January 2011

Arsenal 0 - 0 City

  • Did anybody expect anything different? Roberto Mancini has parked the big blue bus enough times in his tenure at City, most obviously in this fixture last season, most famously at home against United in the autumn. For him to do it once more , away at the best passing team in the country, at the end of a run of four league games in twelve days, and with us deprived of our best and most imaginative player; well, the real surprise would have been his doing anything else.
  • Some people will argue that it might make sense but that it's still not right. Mancini's responsibilities are to the club first, then the fans, then the players as individuals. Match of the Day just doesn't come into it. (As it happens, Mancini has not entirely abjured football on the road this season. The 4-1 win at Fulham was as well as a Premier League team has played in an away game this season, the 3-1 win at West Ham was fairly good too.) I'm pragmatic about these questions: the smart move is the right one, and I don't think anyone would suggest that Mancini did not make the intelligent play last night.
  • Because Arsenal were excellent last night. They swarmed around us for the first 20 minutes, and should, by rights, have won the game then. They hit the post at least twice, and forced Joe Hart into making some serious saves. Not since our last (successful) ploy for a 0-0 in north London last August have we been outplayed like that at the start of a game. Even with a deep back four, two defensive midfielders and James Milner all tracking back they moved the ball too quickly amongst us, finding space for shots. They were much better than us: not because they always had the ball, that was part of Mancini's plan, but because they managed to knit together real chances - which certainly wasn't. Samir Nasri moved in between Micah Richards and James Milner (it took them half an hour to get to terms with his movement), while Robin van Persie dropped between Richards and Kolo Touré, while Jack Wilshere and Cesc Fàbregas were just too quick-witted. This happens.
  • But we rode our luck and got to half-time at 0-0. Like at White Hart Lane, we had a better second half. Arsenal increasingly went diagonal to Theo Walcott, trying to get him in behind Pablo Zabaleta - a tactic the Argentine resisted with a cussed determination that was impressive even by the standards that he has set. Of course, we never looked like scoring. With only three attacking players, one of them being Jô, and another being James Milner, it was always going to be tough. We went on a few breaks, but so much has to go right to create a chance in these circumstances and it wasn't happening. Tévez did some excellent work holding onto the ball but mainly fifty yards away from Łukasz Fabiański.
  • But we held on, and got away with a point. Of course, on the balance of play of Arsenal deserved to win. But they couldn't convert the chances that they created, and as we settled we managed to stifle their creativity. This is only a success. We have the best defence in the Premier League, and this was one of their finest outings yet this season. Yes, in different circumstances, we might have gone for it. But we had different plans, which we fulfilled, and we came away from one of our rivals with a point.


Peter Derbyshire said...

The critics who say it was too negative last night should get real, we were playing the form team of the moment at their own ground, did anybody really expect us to go to the Emirates to attack, would anybody else in our position?
A magnificent defensive performance and a great point, shame about Jo though...

B.A. Maracas said...

Fair play. As an Arsenal fan I have to say this is a fair write-up. It was frustrating for us and I think that was probably the aim so Mancini got it right in that respect.

However had Jack Wilshere's cross found Van Persie's boot early on you would have been forced to change your tactics and we would have seen more clearly how well Mancini had prepared your team for the match. In that respect I think it was our inability to finish as much as Mancini's tactics which ensured you got your point.

marty said...

Whilst I respect the opinions of others, I was at the game last night and I was very, very disappointed. If this is what we get for our millions, then I am going to be staying away a lot in the future. Negative and uninspiring. Arsenal were there for the taking second half and City simply did not want to know. This is the Premiership, not Serie A. The most annoying thing is that we have the talent (even without Silva and Balo), but not the inclination, apparently.

Gavin said...

We`d all love to see free flowing attacking football, but if these types of games earn us enough points to qualify for the CL or even win the PL then I`ll gleefully accept this style of play in these games - especially away from home at the Emirates.

Would be a different story if we were mid table and playing like this all the time- but we aren`t. This point may prove to be invaluable in a few months.