Man City 0-1 Arsenal | Defender shortage undoes spirited Gunners

This tight, pulsating encounter was settled by a scrappy goal which owed much to the lack of natural full backs in a red shirt and ultimately denied Arsenal a point they might have nicked on another day.

Going into the match without Gibbs, Santos, Sagna and Jenkinson, Wenger had no choice but to field centre backs Djourou on the right and Vermaelen on the left. We were coping well, despite some close shaves, before Djourou hobbled off just after half time and young Miquel had to be introduced. The Spaniard is also a centre back, but had to play left back, with Vermaelen moving to the centre to partner Mertesacker while Koscielny moved to right back. Confused? The reshuffled Arsenal defence certainly was for a good 10 minutes and it was during this period that City scored the vital goal.

Balotelli drifted out to the left flank and Koscielny — who had a fine game up to that point — took up a terrible position next to Mertesacker instead of covering the obvious through ball to Balotelli. Then instead of running alongside Balotelli to challenge him as he ran down the line, Koscielny drifted into his own area as his centre back instincts took hold and it was Song who had to come across to try and stop the Italian. Being on a yellow Song was too cautious and Balotelli got by him very easily, getting off a shot which Szczesny did well to save, only for the loose ball to eventually be tapped in by Silva. As the Spaniard slotted home, young Miquel was marking nobody in the centre of the box — a good full back would’ve sensed the danger and been tighter to Silva.

Even though Koscielny and Miquel were culpable for the goal, it’s hard to be too critical as they were forced to play out of position and in fact, the goal aside, they both did very well. Koscielny was our best player in the first half, making good interceptions and tackles. At one point he even burst from his own half past three challenges to set up a good chance for us, but the move to right back meant he couldn’t maintain his performance.

Miquel’s first involvement was to nervously give away a corner, from which he made a brilliantly timed challenge on Silva in the area. From then on he was good without being spectacular, although in the latter stages when we were pushing for an equaliser we missed the swashbuckling Santos.

Two players who weren’t good were the wide men, Walcott and Gervinho. They were as poor today as they were impressive at Chelsea. Walcott in particular had no impact whatsoever and Zabaleta had to get him out of his pocket so he could be subbed.

It says much that Zabaleta didn’t even have to break into a sweat to stifle Walcott, yet when he played against Oxlade-Chamberlain in the Carling Cup game the Ox gave him the runaround. Theo isn’t going to get much better, whereas the Ox is improving fast and realising his massive potential far quicker than even Wenger thought. Theo really needs to be more consistent if he’s to keep his place in the side.

As for Gervinho, he got into some fine positions but once again his final ball and decision making were poor. In fact the goal came when he lost possession cheaply and apart from a snapshot in the first half and a good pass to RVP for a chance our captain hit Hart’s legs with, the Ivorian did nothing. Again, more consistency is required.

David Silva scores against Arsenal

None of our four centre backs can stop Silva poking in the winner

Still, nothing was at least more than Arshavin produced and it really must be time to get rid of him now. His body language and effort levels are woeful and get worse with every passing match. He snapped at a couple of good chances and with his first touch could’ve played a ball across the area for two waiting Arsenal players to tap in, but he scuffed it straight to Hart. It pains me to be advocating selling him, but how long can we excuse his performances and attitude because of those four goals at Anfield? I’d rather have seen Benayoun come on to be honest.

The other sub, Chamakh, did what most Gooners expected him to do — nothing. Ok he only had eight minutes, but seriously, what was the point? He is woefully out of form and is now eyeing the exit door because he can’t get a regular game. Sell him along with Arshavin and bring in Podolski — simples.

It says much for the chances we created that Hart, Kompany and Zabaleta were City’s standout performers. If we had more of a cutting edge we could’ve penetrated them, but if RVP doesn’t score then we don’t look likely. In fact Vermaelen carried more of a goal threat than anyone else, forcing Hart into a great tip-over on 90 minutes and then curling a long-ranger just wide in injury time as Hart flung himself desperately across goal. Hart was also on hand to deny van Persie, Ramsey and Gervinho in the first half and was busier than Szczesny, who also made two superb stops from Aguero.

On a side note it made me chuckle when the stadium announcer revealed that Nasri was the Man of the Match. You what?! He did nothing except for a five minute spell around the time they scored and played a terrible pass when one on one which my daughter could’ve made to let us off the hook. I suppose when you’ve been mugged by Arsenal to the tune of £25m for a one-season wonder who spends most of his time picking splinters out of his arse, you have to try and save a bit of face where you can.

So all in all a good display but a pointless one, which is hard to take. Wenger complained that Silva was offside but replays showed he was fractionally on. Van Persie also had a goal ruled out because he was fractionally offside, but on another day, with a kinder linesman, one or both of those marginal decisions would’ve gone our way. I’m not saying they were wrong calls because they weren’t — it’s just with all the poor refereeing decisions we’ve seen in the Premier League recently, trust us to get two linesmen with 20-20 vision!

Still, one small crumb of comfort is that we’ve now played the top four away from home. In the New Year they all have to come to us. I really feel the fixtures could’ve been kinder — if today’s match was at the Emirates I’d have really fancied us, especially the way we played. But if we have some patience we will certainly pick up some points against the top four when they come to north London and we have the likes of Sagna, Santos and Wilshere back in the side. And that’s when the table will reflect more accurately that we are definitely a top four side.

Follow oohtobeagooner on Facebook and Twitter for more latest Arsenal transfer news, injury news, team news and rumours.
  1. kannan

    arsnel is best i love arsnel and manager iamproud to be arsnel fan

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. kannan

    just buy good striker we finsh top2

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. kannan

    i belive we do good after new year

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. southernblue

    There a times when when it can be argued that a refereeing mistake can cost a team the match (the penalty that City should have been give against Chelsea last week may have been one such occasion).

    However, to say that the match could have gone Arsenal’s way if only the ref had made a couple of refereeing errors, pretty much sums up Arsenal at the moment!

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Gooner Steve

      The comment about linesmen having 20-20 vision was tongue in cheek — trust a City fan to take it literally.

      The things I was referring to that could’ve gone our way weren’t just those two very close offside decisions. They include Aguero who should’ve gone for two yellows after two identically late challenges. Richards’ handball could easily have been a penalty and Djourou getting injured with four full backs already out was more bad luck.

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Melon Man

    November 30, 2011 at 7:56 pm · Reply

    put that team out in 2 weeks and we’ll thump you.”

    Do you remember posting this little gem of a prediction Wambam?

    and do you remember me saying I’d be back to remind you of your words?

    well., I like to think my word means something, so here you go – I await your humble response with baited breath :)

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Gooner Steve

      Back to gloat I see. Classy.

      I’d have had more respect for you if you didn’t feel the need to come back to an Arsenal site and kick a fan when he’s down.

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Melon Man

        I think the respect boat sailed long ago, now we’re mostly down to petty bickering, which you started, and apparently I’m really good at.

        Having said that, I do think I’ll have a word with myself, I shouldn’t be lowering my standards to yours (damn, done it again!)

        Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Goons_with_Guns

    f**k you Miguel, you didn’t mark Silva the whole way and he scored, d**kface!!!

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Bickle

    I suppose when you’ve been mugged by Arsenal to the tune of £25m for a one-season wonder who spends most of his time picking splinters out of his arse, you have to try and save a bit of face where you can.

    Haha, love it, so true! Don’t forget 25million for Adebayor and 7million for Clichy. A total of 57million, what mugs city are!

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Melon Man

      For a bunch of mugs, we’ve just beaten you home and away twice within a month :)

      Wow, can’t believe after all these years of mediocrity on the pitch, we’d be taking the piss out of Arsenal fans down to results, it just gets better and better!

      you’d think with all that money we gave you over the last few years you could have invested it in the playing squad to try and keep up, or at least bribe the ref.

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Citizen

    Thanks for the 3 points gooners. City have now won 26 and drawn 2 of their last 28 PL games at fortress Etihad.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. southernblue

    To Gooner Steve
    Re Comment about refereeing decisions.
    Sorry about taking your tongue in cheek literally. After re-reading your article I realize I was a little rash.
    For what it’s worth, I thought Arenal played well. A point a piece would have been a fair outcome.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Gooner Steve

      A sensible comment from a City fan — so they do exist!

      Thanks for showing some class Southern. Have a word with Melon Man will you, see if you can explain to him what humility means.

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Melon Man

        Please do teach me all about humilty Gooner Steve, as it is what Arsenal fans are famous for, the world over. Maybe Wambam can attend the lessons too, stop him making predictions he really can’t back up :)

        Also, please don’t tell my Mum I’ve been mean to you, she might ground me for the next exciting episode of Arsenal v City, I’d hate to miss the treble :( (ok I know that’s exactly the same nonsense that Wambam came out with after the Carling Cup, I just love the humour in irony, I don’t really get a kick out of setting myself up for egg on face).

        Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Shanzuman

    As an Arsenal fan, I say well done to all Man City fans, a very entertaining close game with end to end thrills and how a football game should be played so that it can be enjoyed by all who after all pay a lot of money to watch. However if I were a Man City fan (ie with a name like ‘Melon Man’) I would be pleased with the 3 points but not that happy that as a team costing 1000% more than its opponents who had all 4 of their full backs out injured could not score a goal until after a further injury forced a reshufle of its defence and nearly lost 2 points in the final minutes! So I should not gloat and make fun (ie take the piss)at the Arsenal fans (particularly on their own site) and instead be honest and say, hey we need to do better if we are going to win this league that has been won 12 times in the last 20 years by our ‘friendly’ neighbours! Oh and as for the refereeing decisions, who cares it happens in every game!

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Melon Man

      I never said the game wasn’t a brilliant advert for football, I spent the whole 94 minutes thinking we would blow it if we weren’t careful – and we weren’t, thank god for the spectacle, and rode our luck!
      Arsenal played very well, I have no complaints about the way Wenger sets his teams out, I was merely reminding Wambam of his ill considered taunts after the Carling Cup game, on this very blogsite – he boasted your first team would “thump” our first team in this game, which as we can now all agree, did not come to pass, again.
      Of course we need to do better, we need to improve, and we need a hefty slice of luck along the way, but it’s still great right now, best football I’ve ever seen City play, and I used to hope most football fans would not begrudge City fans their time in the sun – this has proven not to be so in many cases, especially fans of teams used to winning everything in sight, like the Arsenal – silly of me to expect anything else I suppose.
      I used to really enjoy watching the Invicibles, as well as Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle, and in recent years Barca are on another level altogether – I don’t need a lesson in humility from glory hunters used to getting their own way, who besmirch the rare success of rivals with taunts of “no class”, “oil fuelled arab playboy club” etc.. We’ve all seen the abuse, who’s classy now eh? (not aimed at you personally btw, just explaining why I came on this site to vent, that’s all).
      I have nothing against those fans who accept the result with good grace, just like we do, and have had to do for decades – we are out of the Champions League, but do you see us getting all abusive towards Bayern and Napoli? of course not, we cocked up, they played well, end of story, we move on, that’s the way it should be.
      I’m boring myself now, have a good season, till we meet again :)

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Shanzuman

    Well Melon Man, it now seems to me that you are a proper fan of football and then a supporter of your club. Personnaly I ignore those morons who come on blogs like this one and give it all the senseless abuse and would suggest you do the same so as not to be dragged down to their gutter level! Like you I would watch any game of football and be judgemental and constructive on what I see, how it was played, the quality etc. Anyhow you enjoy the rest of your season and let us see what will happen when we meet next year at the Emirates. Festive greetings.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0