Playing the last game on the weekend has its pros and cons. You know what you have to do in order to stay on course. However, there is a lot of pressure to achieve the desired result. As both the teams lined up in the tunnel, they knew that Manchester United, Liverpool and Spurs had won their respective matches while Chelsea managed to draw theirs the previous day. This meant that City needed a point to go on top again, albeit on goal difference, while a victory would take them 2 points ahead of Manchester United, who currently occupied the top place. Arsenal knew that no result would change their current position, as they would stay 5th even if they won this game and went level on points with Chelsea, who currently sit on 4th.

Starting Lineups

Ex-Arsenal man Gael Clichy was suspended for the game as he was sent off against Chelsea last Monday. The other left back, Kolarov, was out injured. However, Richards made his return after his injury layoff. This meant that Mancini went in with Zabaleta as a make shift left back while Richards occupied his favored position on the right side of defense. Lescott was dropped for Toure, who partnered Kompany in front of Hart. Barry and Yaya Toure formed the centre midfield while Silva was given his usual free role. Ex-Arsenal boo boy Nasri played in the three pronged attack along with Aguero and Balotelli.

Arsenal, as always, have injury problems in defense which meant that they started with 4 centre backs. Andre Santos, Keiran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson and Bacary Sagna are all out which meant Arsenal are out of full backs at the moment. This meant that Djourou played as right back, Vermaelen slotted in as left back and Koscienly partnered Mertesacker in the centre of defense. Apart from that, Arsenal, like City, had their first team available which meant Arteta, Ramsey and Song continued in midfield while Gervinho and Theo took the flanks. The strikerai??i??s position was taken by none other than the skipper Robin Van Persie, who leads the league scoring charts.

Wenger meets Mancini after the highly entertaining game!

Result

Manchester City 0-1 Arsenal.

Goal

21 million Balotelli cut past Song and shot at the goal, which was parried by Szczesny. However, 41 million Aguero was the first to react and headed the ball towards 30 million Silva, who finished nicely.

The Game

Manchester City, before this game, had a perfect record at home this season, in all competitions. This means that Arsenal started the game as huge underdogs. However, Chelsea and Napoli have shown that you canai??i??t respect them if you want to get anything out of the game. You need to play your game and be good at it. Arsenal did just that and came away with a very good performance.

The first half saw both the teams battling it out in midfield with no clear winner. The defense and the goalkeepers did well whenever the ball reached the final third either side and this meant that the teams went in at half time with the score as 0-0.

The second half started with a bad note for Arsenal. Djourou was substituted for Miqel because of an injury which meant the young Spaniard went in as left back, Vermaelen took his place as a centre back while Koscielny moved in to the right side of defense. Six minutes after the restart, the goal came. This, however, didnai??i??t change the pattern of the game. Both sides were still trying to attack and the game saw some lovely play for both the teamai??i??s midfield, attack and defense.

Arsenal brought on Arshavin and Chamakh later on which meant that they ended the game playing a 4-2-4 formation while City brought on Lescott, Dzeko and De Jong to keep hold of the lead. A lot of chances were created and spurned which meant that one of the best games of this season ended 1-0 to the hosts.

Highlights

  • Aguero shooting over the bar from a Zabaleta cross.
  • Gervinho shooting straight at Hart when crossing would have been a better option.
  • Szczesny pulling off a world class save from Balotelli.
  • Szczesny reading Agueroai??i??s mind and saving when it looked like the Argentine would score.
  • Pin drop silence amongst the Arsenal faithful when RVP was hacked down by Zabaleta.
  • Ramseyai??i??s improvisation bringing out a good save from Hart.
  • Theo bringing out a good save from Hart after some neat play from Arsenal.
  • Gervinhoai??i??s excellent run to feed RVP who shot straight at Hart.
  • Balotelli shooting wide when scoring was easy.
  • Zabaletaai??i??s thunderous shot hitting the post.
  • RVPai??i??s delightful chip being harshly ruled offside.
  • Hartai??i??s heroics in the end to keep Arsenal out.

Verdict

  1. As the above highlights suggest, the game was in no way a one sided affair. The two fittest teams in the league were playing, which meant that the game was played at a very high tempo. As Gary Neville and Graham Souness said, it was the best game of the season till now.
  2. Manchester City must have realized that the league is as easy as it must have seemed when they were beating teams by 4-5 clear goals early on in the season. Some pundits said earlier that the title is Cityai??i??s to lose, but the last two weeks should have quashed all those theories. City currently play the best football in the league, but with United just 2 points behind, they canai??i??t afford to let their performances drop if they want to win their first ever EPL title.
  3. Only Robin Van Persie and his goals stand in between Silva and EPLai??i??s best player title. He was the best player on the pitch yesterday, dictating play and dancing around defenders, and how fitting it was that he got the only goal of the game.
  4. City have done Arsenal a favor by buying Nasri. And its is not about the 24 million that Arsenal got from City for a player who had just 6 months of glory and 12 months remaining on the contract. Loosing Cesc and more importantly Nasri at 24 made Wenger realize that he will lose every such battle when it comes to wages as he would never be able to offer what the likes of City, Chelsea and Madrid offer. He went in the transfer market and got invaluable top level experience in Arteta, Benayoun, Santos and Per. And we all know how that has turned out.
  5. Arsenal might have endured a tough start to the league, but they look good for their money to finish in the top 4, or at least challenging for it come end of season. From 17th to 4th in the matter of 2 months shows how wrong people asking for Wengerai??i??s head were. He still is the right man for the job.
  6. The team spirit in Arsenal is fantastic and the best when compared to the last 3 seasons. RVP is relishing the captaincy and he has brought the team together as a unit who are ready to fight for each other when the going gets tough. No one is taking his place for granted, and everyone is working hard in whatever time they are on the pitch.
  7. Having no full backs affected Arsenalai??i??s style of play which sees fullbacks overlapping Walcott and Gervinho. Yesterday, Theo had no support which meant, Zabaleta and Nasri were able to double up on him and Theo was highly ineffective.
  8. Lady luck was also against Arsenal which saw RVPai??i??s fantastic chip being ruled offside and a clear handball by Richards in the City box going unnoticed. And in Hart, they faced a goalkeeper who is currently one of the best in the league as he single handedly kept Arsenal out in the dying stages of the game.
  9. Arsenal have finally solved their central defensive crisis, which has haunted them since Sol packed his bags and left. Vermaelen, Koscielny and BFG are brilliant centre backs and Djourou is a perfect understudy. In addition to these 4, they have Squillaci and Miquel, who has done well whenever called upon. And in Szczesny, they have the leagueai??i??s best goalkeeper at the moment.
  10. Arsenal are playing some lovely football and they have the most in form striker in the league, but they need to do some business come January. They are an RVP injury away from playing Chamakh or Park as their forward. Chamakh looks to be lost and needs to be ai???playedai??? back in form, but Arsenal cannot afford that. Also, Arshavin is a wonderful player but the system doesnai??i??t suit him and neither will the 15-20 minutes every week, which is what he gets when he comes on as a sub. A move away from Arsenal will benefit both the parties and Wenger can bring in replacements.

Player Ratings

Manchester City

Hart: If MOTM is given on key moments rather than the overall game, it has to be him. Wonderful shot stopping. 8.5

Richards: Gervinho, without any support, took him to the cleaners on a lot of occasions. Needs to improve his decision making. 5.5

Zabaleta: Did very well against Walcott and was unlucky not to score. 7.5

Kompany: Not his best game, but still kept a clean sheet. 6.5

Toure: Surprise starter and surprisingly fared better than his CB partner. 7

Barry: He was up against probably the best midfield they have faced this season and he did really well. 7

Yaya: Had an off day as compared to his other displays in the season, maybe because he was asked to contribute defensively as well. 6.5

Silva: Man of the match without a doubt. Superb player with super vision. 9.5

Nasri: His only contribution offensively was to start the goal-scoring move. That said, not a good game against his previous employers. 6

Balotelli: Love him or hate him, he makes things happen. Should have got a goal today though. 7

Aguero: Strong as an ox and technically amazing, he is one of the best strikers in the league right now. Good game. 7.5

Milner: Came on for Balotelli when Gervinho switched to the right. 6.5

DeJong: NA

Dzeko: NA

Joe broke a million Arsenal hearts!

Ai??Arsenal

Szczesny: Brilliant goalkeeper and amazing shot stopper. The best in the league right now. 8.5

Djourou: Did ok as compared to the previous games as he has had as RB. However, didnai??i??t contribute in attack at all. Went off injured. 6

Vermaelen: What a player this man is. Equally solid at LB and CB, he also made things happen in the final third when his team needed him to. With RVP as captain and him as second in command, the teamai??i??s leadership is in the right hands. 8

Mertesacker: Had his best game in an Arsenal shirt till now. Calm and composed as always, he never gets credit for what he does. 7

Koscielny: Continued with his stunning form and like TV, looked comfortable in either roles he was asked to play today. Solid game. 7.5

Song: Didnai??i??t start well, but played well after he was booked. Might consider himself lucky for not getting a second yellow. Slotted at the back as well with ease. 7

Arteta: Best Arsenal player on the pitch. Tackled, passed and ran the play for Arsenal. Unfortunately for him and his team, there was a better Spaniard on the day. 8.5

Ramsey: Has started to enforce himself in the attacking third and with Arteta and Song, he has formed an amazing partnership. 7

Gervinho: Workhorse and creative. He needs to improve his final ball and finishing, and when that happens, he will be a treat to watch. Did well even without support from the back and was always there to help out in defense. 7.5

Theo: Had a bad game as he got no support from his fullback while Zabaleta did from his midfielder. Has been consistent this season, but needs to take it another level. 6

RVP: Unlucky with the offside goal ruled out. Should have done better with the chance he got. Good game never the less. 7.5

Miquel: Big game for the youngster but he was up for it. Was nearly faultless in the 45 he played. 7

Arshavin: The less said, the better. 5

Chamakh: NA.

The Article has been written by Guest Author Vikram Singh Negi.Ai??

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6 Responses to “Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal: The Post Mortem – Arsenal Left HARTbroken”

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  1. Rudra says:

    Neatly written mate. I also agree on the Mertesacker and Arshavin points.

  2. Wiganman says:

    Has to be the best biassed report of the weekend. Well done. Must be difficult to see through those gunner glasses.

  3. Dogzenkatz says:

    Very clearly pro-Arsenal. Szczesny is not the best in the league, although he is very good. Paul Robinson aside, the other keepers in the league have been superb. For goalkeeping ability, it’s hard to get any better than Joe Hart, who IMHO makes truly superhuman saves at times. Hart is the only keeper I know who can be wrongfooted and then change direction in a split second to save a certain goal. Then there’s Pepe Reina whose distribution is head and shoulders above his peers, no other keeper adds more to the team.

    Also, Ramsey, Song and Arteta the best midfield City have come up against? Have City faced Parker and Modric yet? It is City who currently boast the best midfield in the league. Either of their other midfielders combine well with the pair of Yaya Toure and David Silva. Arsenal do have the most fluent central midfield at the moment, but they don’t have the balance Liverpool did before Lucas’ injury.

    An epic match nonetheless with both teams staking their claims at the top of the table. Along with Liverpool, Spurs and Man U, these teams all have something truly special about the way they play and it’s anyone’s game on any given day. Could be Chelsea’s day too, but there’s nothing special about how they play. City possess a squad that is top in every department. Spurs play the best kick and chase football. Arsenal plays as fast as Spurs with the beautiful passing of Kenny’s Liverpool who don’t move as fast, but have a defensive solidarity to match City’s. Man U know how to play terribly and still win. To make a claim as to who’s best would be largely biased and delusional – although the stats do suggest City is.

  4. Krishnan says:

    RVP was clearly offside, not sure what the author is cribbing about. And Szczesny is no way the best keeper in the league. Hart, Krul both will vie for that honor. The author seems to be a Arsenal fan, everyone seemed to have had a good game. Man City were clealry superior yesterday and could have won with 3-4 goal margin if not for Aguero’s wastefulness.

  5. Sounak says:

    @Krishnan and Others – When you are not aware of something, please dont keep on asserting on such things and make a fool out of yourself.
    RVP was NOT offside. End of.

    Check out this video –
    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xn38o7_rvp-s-wonderful-finish-was-not-offside_shortfilms

    If you still dont agree, I ll explain you the offside rule, you can tweet me on ‘sounak’.
    Thanks a lot for commenting.

  6. Vikram Singh Negi says:

    This wasnt the best midfield that City have come up against in the EPL?
    Which one was? The one who got mauled 5-1 at home? Spurs have a bloody brilliant midfield but the time they faced City, Modric was still crying for Chelsea and Parker was settling in. On the other hand, here Ramsey, Song and Arteta have put a string of games (without a defeat) together and are playing exceptionally well.

    I know I am biased. Cause it is the view of an Arsenal fan. Never argued about that.

    @Krishnan…the only reason City could have scored more goals was because Arsenal were trying to get a goal and commit forward. Howver, could have means little in football. Arsenal fans know this better than anyone else.

    City won because they put the ball in the back of the net. Not because they were “far superior”.