Man City succumbed to the pressure that Arsenal put them under in the last 15 minutes of the match, with a goal from Laurent Koscielny in the 82nd minute cancelling out the opposing No.6, Joleon Lescott, who headed home 5 minutes from half-time.
Arsenal flew out of the blocks without a sign of doubt about them, as they have done for much of this season so far. Chances came the way of the Gunners, who were unable to convert a handful of opportunities; most notably Gervinho’s one-on-one, where a heavy touch allowed Joe Hart to gratefully grasp the ball in his hands. A nicely weighted ball from Arteta over the top of the City defence to Gibbs could have also resulted in a goal, but for Gibbs and Podolski not being on the same wavelength.
Nonetheless Arsenal continued to press high up the pitch, playing stunning one-touch football at an outstanding pace that the Man City players could do nothing but stand and admire as the Arsenal players drifted in, out, between, round and through them. However we were to rue missed chances when Lescott rose above Podolski in the box to head Silva’s corner into the top corner of the far post. Arsenal took criticism due to their poor defending and ball-watching, with blame laid mostly upon the system Arsenal had adpoted. Zonal-marking. Which allows the attacking players to build up a momentum while the defenders stand pretty much still and wait for attackers to converge, while watching them and the ball and their position. It’s a system that works for some teams, against some teams, but it’s certainly not full-proof as we’ve seen today. But yet still having played City away, 5 league games in and we’ve conceded just the 2 goals. Not quite at a stage for complaining I don’t think. Especially after the chaos we’ve seen from set-pieces the last few years. The system has worked other than this particular time, and I personally feel that Podolski was particularly at fault and should take a lot of the responsibility after showing a total lack of commitment. On the other hand, Mannone showed a fair too much commitment and took himself out of play by coming for it and missing it by miles. Arteta disappeared from the post as well. Yes Mikel, we saw you.
Speaking of whom, Podolski and Arteta were two players who had pretty poor-average games today by the standards we’ve seen thus far, so that was disappointing in such an important, pivotal game. Additionally, Diaby was poor, and looked lazy in my opinion – something Viera and Toure are not – heed that Abou, and a certain Gervinho, well, he had an absolute shocker didn’t he. It’s beyond me why he was even on the pitch come the 90 minute mark. No amount of calling to the TV for Chamberlain or anyone to replace him reaped any success, if only it had, perhaps someone else would have taken one of the glorious chances that had to keep falling his way.
A long battling second-half with a very, VERY solid performance from the defence again, kept us in the game, and as luck would have it, we got what we deserved at a bare minimum. Little came our way for a majority of the second half it felt, but with the determination and passion shown in a way a goal seemed quite inevitable. Especially when Walcott, Giroud, and ironically Tevez came on (although not for us unfortunately). These substitutions shifted the dynamics of the game, and the Arsenal comeback was officially on. Passion with a new-born belief was displayed, something that Diaby and Podolski (who were taken off) hadn’t been showing. Cazorla had a powerful, long-range drive which required Hart to be on his toes, but he matched it and we saw a corner given our way. Santi ran over to take the corner and delivered it neatly into the penalty area. A poor clearance from Lescott saw it fall at Koscielny’s feet, and quicker than you could say ‘unbeaten’ it was 1-1.
More chances fell our way later on, Gervinho with a tidy bit of skill to open up some pace, but for a horrific shot to sail into Row Z. But this was only after a lucky double-escape when Kompany tried an outrageous over-head kick, which Mannone was equal to, and then Koscielny’s poor clearance to Aguero whose shot scrapped the outer side of the post. Champions need luck though don’t they? Perhaps this is the start of a very special season. Scored 9 Conceded 2 Won 2 Draw 3 Unbeaten.
I’d like to draw upon some excellent performances too, Gibbs and Jenkinson were outstanding up and down the flanks for 90 minutes. Jenkinson working so hard, and to great effect. Mertesacker with some inch-perfect tackles and interceptions and Koscielny also undeniably superb today (but for the poor clearance to Aguero). Sometimes defenders don’t get the credit they deserve, so I’m here to say well done lads. Cazorla was also on top form again, a magnificent array of passes and dribbles second-to-none.
Those are my opinions, but what did you think? Vote for your Man of the Match below.