Eight positives from Arsenal v Man City – and why it is no fluke that we beat them!
In a way, this game can be summarised in a few lines: there were thirty minutes of probing by each team and showing too much respect to each other; then Man City had a very decent chance to take the lead but they didn’t; this miss woke Arsenal up and within no time we were one up; as so often, Arsenal kept pushing for a second and before half time we got it; in the second half, Man City pressed forward more, making it easy for us to play on the counter; we had very good chances to score a third and put the game to bed… but we didn’t; City scored a late goal and it all got a bit hairy..but we held on.
However, there was of course more to this game and why we won it, and I will summarise these in eight positives:
- Ramsey beat Yaya Toure, with a bit of help by Wenger. They are similar players and Yaya is one of those players who could fit in any team, whereas Aaron is on his way to become a great player. But on the night he was more disciplined defensively, whereas Yaya lacked this throughout the game, and this made all the difference. Ozil had tonnes of space and was able to control the ball in front of the opponent’s ‘D area’, mainly because Yaya did not give enough protection to their defence and leaving his partner to cover too much ground. Mesut always finds space but he did not have to look hard for it yesterday. Ramsey, on the other hand, held back and formed a strong defensive midfield line with Flamini, therefore not allowing the creative midfielders of City to get near our ‘D’. He did this most effectively in the first half, and in the second half he was able to get more forward as well, which left us more exposed but also gave us great opportunities to score a decisive third goal.
- Theo and Ollie each took their first proper chance, whereas De Bruyne missed his. In top games, scoring the first goal is very important and for that we need confident, quality players who rise to the occasion. Theo took his chance brilliantly and it was a big sucker punch to City: after that we never looked back, except for the last ten minutes or so.
- Ozil is in the form of his life, whereas Da Silva only just returned from injury. Furthermore, as per ‘Positive’ one, Ozil was given freedom to roam whereas Da Silva was tightly marked by Flamini. Ozil’s second assist was a great example of how quickly he sees a scoring opportunity and is able to execute it. Giroud deserves credit as well for his anticipation of Mesut’s ball: it was all done in a flash and the game was more or less decided after that.
- Giroud is a more complete striker than Aguero. The Argentinian is the more lethal finisher, but Giroud offers more in terms of hold up play, defensive duties, aerial threat and getting other players involved in the attack. I have written many posts about Giroud’s importance for this Arsene/Arsenal team and last night you could see once more why our manager values him so much.
- Cech is better than Hart. Petr puts doubt in attackers’ minds; Joe gets bullets fired at him. Enough said.
- Koz and BFG is a settled pair of CBs whereas Otamendi and Mangala are not (yet) gelling, and enough has been said about the importance of Kompany in City’s team. The BFG might have a few weaknesses but his strengths are very important to Arsenal; and Bellerin, Koz and Monreal compensate these very well. Together they are a unit with the Koz-BFG core offering a great combination of defensive disciplines and skills. Of course it also helps Per when we play deep and compact, as we did yesterday for a large part of the game.
- Monreal and Bellerin outperformed Sagna and Kolarov all night. In our system, the full backs, or wing backs, are very, very important. They provide the extra width and penetration from the sides but also need to be fast and robust enough to recover quickly when out of position. Most importantly, they need to read the game well and make sound decisions on whether to support the attack or not, time and again. Our Spanish full backs where once again awesome.
- Togetherness, hunger to win, collective joy… call it what you want, but we wanted it more yesterday. Just watch the way we kicked off the first half and then how City kicked off the second. Our players had a spring in their step from the moment the ball was allowed to roll. They sensed the occasion, the opportunity to make a statement, and this was not just represented in one or two players, but the entire team. I thought City did well in the last twenty minutes and there is definitely enough team spirit to rival us on this front, but we still ‘out-togethered’ them yesterday, which is arguably the biggest ‘positive’ of them all.
So plenty of positives in our team, and many of these are of a structural nature. And let’s build on these when we play the Saints on Boxing Day. UTA, COYRRG, OGAAT and all that..!
Merry Christmas fine fellow Bergkampesquers! 🙂