Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Manchester City 1 Arsenal 0

It was a good game of football. The result was disappointing, especially because we deserved at least a point out of the game and could have won the game on a lucky day. Nonetheless, we all enjoyed excellent football from the both sides and were happy with our players' performance.

Just compare how much money each of the two clubs has spent and are spending for their players. The game proved that there was not much in the quality and performance of the players between the two sides. Media used old clich├ęs, "Manchester City were a better side" or "City were too good for Arsenal", simply because of the result. Skysports stats show Arsenal had more possession throughout the game with 53%, and 61.1% in the second-half alone. Before the match, everybody expected Man City to dominate the game in possession. Arsenal played their style of football and went very close to win the game. Our players did us proud.

Arsene Wenger blamed the defensive reshuffle following the injury to Djourou for the goal conceded. It allowed Balotelli to make a run in the entire Arsenal half unmarked, but after the mishap, Arsenal's reorganised defence coped well with Man City attacks. I thought it was a tactical change because Koscielny played better than Djourou at right-back and Miquel did not do a bad job at left-back. Actually our defence looked solid throughout the game (maybe except for the first 10 minutes, when we thought this could have been long 90 minutes).

I quite like our current team. They don't have the same creative flair we had last season nor win games with emphatic scorelines, but they are unlikely to capitulate from 4-0 up at half-time (even with certain Phil Dowd on the mission to stage a greatest come-back in the Premier League history) or surrender a two-goal lead and go on to lose 3-2 to North London archrivals.

The two summer signings, Mertersacker and Arteta, have brought experience to the young team and provided calming and settling presence.The team now know how to control games. Their good work often go unnoticed because of the nature of their roles. However, at Arsenal Playa Flamenca Supporters Club, we appreciate the influence of these two experienced players. In contrast to their calming influence, Captain Vantastic and vice-captain the Verminator drive the team with determination and desire to win.

I don't think the outcome of this game will have negative effects on our players. Arsenal have easier fixtures coming up for the next 12 days. It is a good time to get back to winning ways. Hopefully, we can get all 9 points and put pressure on Chelsea and Tottenham, at least one of which will drop points during the same period.

Our Man of the Match is Thomas Vermaelen. He nearly scored twice at later stage and showed great spirit.

Players ratings:

Szczeny: 9
Made great stops, some of which could have been match-deciders. He was as good as Joe Hart.

Djourou: 7
Reluctant to go forward and overlap with Walcott, which was largely anticipated, though. Replaced at 47th minute due to a groin strain, which could sideline him for three weeks.

Mertesacker: 8
Looked solid. Only complaint was that he should probably have covered Koscielny when Balotelli made the run.

Koscielny: 8
Good performance as the centre-back. Wasn't bad as the right-back, either, although some distributions were poor. As the right-back, he was more adventurous than Djourou (actually, he made great forward runs as the centre-back as well before he took the right-back position) and put some good crosses in. He may not feel comfortable playing the right-back, but he can get used to it and improve his game.

Vermaelen: 9
Started as the left-back and ended the game as the centre-back. Solid all through the game.

Ramsey: 8
He made some great runs to get into the area, but his finishing let him down. He always wants one touch too many before he shoots. I've read a lot of criticism from fans about him recently, especially about his fitness level. Apparently he covers the most distance of all players in the Premier League. Doesn't this stat show that he's back to full fitness now?

Arteta: 8
Reliable as usual.

Song: 8
Good both defensively and offensively. Made some incisive passes again. His passing has significantly improved this season.

Walcott: 7
This is where our views were divided (it always seems to be on him). Before the match, many thought he would hold the key to Arsenal's attacking as City didn't have any established left-back with Kolarov injured and Clichy suspended. Despite the expectations, Theo had a quiet game apart from one powerful shot, which forced a good save from Joe Hart. Some of us think his subdued performance was due to the lack of service. An eagle-eyed member spotted him waving to invite a pass only to be ignored by Arteta.

Gervinho: 9
His work rate was once again phenomenal. One second he was in the opponents' box and the next second he was at the other end defending. He was unlucky not to put his name on the score sheet as Joe Hart didn't know anything about his "brilliant save".

Van Persie: 8
Marked tightly by Man City defenders all through the game, but he still managed to prove that he only needed one chance to do something special, when he found space. Match of the Day replay showed he was played on-side by Kompany, who was on the far side to the assistant referee, and his goal should have stood.

Subs

Miquel: 8
47th-minute substitution for injured Djourou. He did well under the circumstances and out of position. (He has to get used to playing in this position if he wants the first-team action as Arsenal's full-back drought looks set to continue).

Arshavin: 5
Came off the bench at 69th minute for Walcott. He had a clear-cut chance to score and shine, but his effort was disappointing.

Chamakh: 5
Replaced Mertesacker in 82 minute, which meant Arsenal were attacking with four strikers, leaving only two in midfield. However, he failed to make a difference.

Referee

Phil Dowd: 4
We thought we hadn't suffered from bad decisions this season, then this game came. RVP was not off side and Micah Richards handled the ball in the box. These decisions could have meant two goals to Arsenal.

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