Arsenal 1-0 Man City | Excellent win heaps pressure on Spurs & Chelsea

Mikel Arteta was the match winner on a day when Arsenal took a massive step towards automatic Champions League qualification and practically handed the title to Sir Alex.

It’s only fair we helped United as they did us a favour an hour earlier by beating QPR to pull eight points clear of City. You can bet the boys in blue would’ve been aware of this as they kicked off and they looked thoroughly demoralised. They were lethargic and despondent as a motivated Arsenal took control of the game, enjoying plenty of possession and camping in City’s half, albeit without really creating many clear openings.

It was good to see the Gunners up for this game — not like last week when they thought QPR would be brushed aside without much effort and ending up deservedly beaten.

But then we’ve always been able to motivate ourselves for the glamour games — it’s the matches where complacency can sneak in which worries me most about this group of players. Until we conquer this mental weakness we will not be involved in a title race anytime soon.

Major incidents were few and far between as both managers opted for a cautious approach. Wenger once again chose not to field two wide attackers, playing Benayoun on the left so that the little Israeli could tuck in and help win the midfield battle. Wenger used a similar ploy against Spurs and, like then, it worked well today. Yossi was busy and hardworking, helping Song and Arteta get control of the game, but it did curtail our attacking options, leaving Walcott as our only wide outlet. Unfortunately Mr Inconsistent had a poor game and was hardly involved meaning we had to try and pick our way through a solid defence which was well marshalled by Kompany.

Someone who didn’t have a poor game was Rosicky. He was at the heart of our attacks, switching play well when needed and looking bright and creative. His form over the last couple of months has been excellent and along with the goals of van Persie he’s been a major factor in us taking 24 points out of the last 27 available.

Our cause was helped when Yaya Toure limped off after 17 minutes and moments later Balotelli should’ve followed him down the tunnel when he went over the top on Song. The ref didn’t even give a foul to the incredulity of everyone sitting around me as, even from 80 yards away, we could tell it was an attempted leg breaker.

Shortly afterwards we had our best chance of the half when van Persie smacked the bar with a header and we went in at the break the superior team but with nothing to show for it.

City had been curiously unadventurous considering they had to win the game and Mancini’s tactics seemed to be one of containment. I was expecting them to open up in the second half and have a real go, but instead it was Arsenal who upped the tempo — our desire to overtake Spurs seemed to be greater than City’s desire to reel in Man Utd.

On 62 minutes Van Persie hit the woodwork again when his header from Song’s clever chip bounced away off the post and from that point on it was wave after wave of red attacks.

Mikel Arteta scores for Arsenal

Pick that one out Joseph!

We went even closer when Walcott turned Sagna’s low cross against the post and as Vermaelen sliced the rebound goalwards, it seemed Benayoun couldn’t miss from two yards out. But somehow the ball was half blocked and trickled agonisingly wide for a corner — an incredible let off for Man City and our best chance of three points seemed to have gone.

With five minutes remaining Wenger finally gave Oxlade-Chamberlain a chance, bringing him on for Theo. By then Ramsey had been chosen to replace Benayoun despite the game crying out for the sort of direct running and trickery that only the Ox could offer. It seemed as though the gaffer had left it too late to unleash him and if we’d drawn 0-0 questions would rightly have been asked. But on 87 minutes Arteta rendered the debate needless when he advanced on the City defence and instead of trying to tippy-tap our way into the six yard box, he thought “Why not have a go?” and slammed in a 25 yarder which skidded past Hart and into the net.

Get in!

The match was won but there was still time for pantomime villain Ballotelli to demonstrate what an over-privileged moron he is when he scythed through Sagna and belatedly saw red. For me the buck stops with Mancini for wasting his money on such an immature plank.

Speaking of wasting money, wasn’t it nice to see Nasri do absolutely nothing before suffering the humiliation of being subbed in front of 60,000 jeering Gooners. I had to laugh as a chant of “He’s on the bench! He’s on the bench! He’s on the — Nasri’s on the bench!” went up around me. Almost as funny as when Tevez and Kolarov were warming up in front of us and had to listen to “He plays when he wants! Carlos Tevez — he plays when he wants!” Even Kolarov chuckled at that one as he did his stretches!

So we’re five points clear of Chelsea and two points in front of Spurs. Every Spurs fan I know had been bleating on about how we still had to play Man City and Chelsea and therefore would drop points. Well, hasn’t worked out like that has it you Spuds! As much as this result lifts our confidence again after last week’s blip, it will deflate our London rivals as they didn’t expect us to beat Mancini’s men. They know they really need to win all their remaining fixtures to overhaul us and that puts huge pressure on them.

Chelsea in particular have to win at the Emirates and also hope we slip up somewhere else. Given that they come to us in between two games against Barcelona (where they will be totally hammered), I’d say we’re clear favourites, especially if we play as we did today. And I’m not talking about our technical ability, I’m talking about our mental approach.

On to Wolves on Wednesday then. If we approach that match as if we were playing Man City we’ll get a comfortable victory. But if the boys are still congratulating each other and thinking about all the nice things the papers are saying about them, and how Wolves are bottom of the table, then we could be in for a QPR-style shock. Fingers crossed Wenger gets them as motivated as they were today.

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  1. Byo

    Walcott-Mr Inconsistent? Had a poor game?
    I disagree. He stretched their defense all day long……even though he was playing against a fb that knows his game.
    Great win.

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    • Gooner Steve

      If Theo’s confident he’s unplayable. But if not he’s woeful. The Spurs game was a perfect example — first half, looked a bag of nerves and couldn’t do anything right. Second half, with confidence after we came back to 2-2 from 0-2, he was awesome.

      He’s either wonderful or crap, hence me calling him inconsistent. Today he looked tentative and hardly ran at their defence, all too often bottling it and playing an easy ball to Sagna.

      But I don’t want to have a go at Theo (too much) after a great win like that, just wanted to explain why I called him inconsistent.

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  2. Rob

    I was absolutely entertained by this game. Arsenal went for Man City in an attacking sense and took them apart.
    At one point, I was thinking Van Persie, oh no! Header at Vermaelen and over, header at the post. Lovely goal, but marginally offside. man City may sneak this, at the end. Then Arteta scored a magnificent goal after a lot of very enthralling Arsenal play.
    A deserved win. I was ecstatic when my own team, Sunderland started the Man City fall from power. But, even more pleased, that the “People’s Team” won today. It proved that money cannot buy great football.
    Arsenal are now my second team (it used to be Liverpool). Sorry to say Gooners, but Spurs are my third team.

    WELL PLAYED !!! No need for referee F*&% Ups.

    Actually, Balotelli apart, well played both teams. I have seen Man City tear a team apart this season. But, not with the style Arsenal displayed today.

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  3. Andy

    Spurs fan here, wanted to agree with you about balotelli, he’s an idiot and a thug and the sooner he leaves the prem the better. Should be a good race for 3rd – despite what the media are making out a point at the SOL is always a good result. I can see us winning all our games, but then there is always this propensity to slip up against relegation fodder that seems symptomatic of both parts of North London. That said, I can see you beating Chelsea, but slipping up to Stoke away – especially if chris foy is reffing, and possibly west Brom away. I can’t call it though, no one expected you to come back against us, but no one expected to lose to qpr either. Still, top 4 is a cert for both of us I reckon

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    • Gooner Steve

      I agree it should be Spurs and Arsenal for third and fourth, but in which order is a very tight call. I’m hoping the FA Cup distracts you and our great win today puts the pressure on you guys, something you haven’t dealt well with since the 5-2 at Emirates.

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  4. kc

    I saw thw earleir game, MU-QPR, and when the ball fell to Scholes and he tooka touch, I said goal before he shot, as he had done aon numerous occasions. When Arteta won the ball and toka touch, I shouted goal to my two sons watching the game with me and we were celebrating after that. It was surreal.

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  5. Shanzuman

    Yes a great result with a great goal! Had our finishing been a lot better we surely would have won this game with a lot more goals. We have a good team albeit inconsistent and we need to strengthen in those areas if we are to challenge for trophies next year. Oh and by the way where are those MC fans that invaded our site after they luckily beat us in the Carling Cup and abused us and boasted how great they are and that we could not take it when we loose!! Well you can now take Tevez, Nasri, Arguero and in particular moronic Ballotteli and stick them up your jumpers!!!

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