NOTE: This post was written and scheduled for this morn. Due to some powers that be however, it only just got posted. Decided to post as it is for the sake of originality. Enjoy!
Morning people. If I had written this immediately after the match yesterday, it would have been full of a whole lot of gibberish and sort. By the way, immediately in that sentence = 2hours. I was that elated. I was buzzing. I was hearing my own body zzzzZZzzZing away!
I actually predicted a draw with goals or an Arsenal win, when I commented on Saturday’s post. Regardless, I still nursed a fear, just like any other fan visiting the Ettihad woulda had, that we may play well like we have been all season (especially in defence) and still lose by two odd goals and score none. Being a Gooner the positive side of a decade can do that to you, I tell ya.
As usual, Mancini didn’t go gung-ho on us. Pleased me. Why? It showed me what most, yours truly included, do not usually see: the team that can not be taken for granted that we possess. It showed respect. Regardless of his £££££ly-assembled team, he was still cautious against our widely-reported-not-so-good players. Makes a big statement.
In the first of the halves, apart from their goal and that Aguero shot (which would have been impossible if Jenks didn’t give him so much space), City never really threatened us. The Arsenal on the other hand, had her hands in the air. It’s good to see the zippy counters reminiscent of the days of Pires, Titi, Sylvain and Freddy. We played very well, making good use of the ball. If we had taken our chances, the game would have been killed in that 1st half and we’d have been on our way to sharing the plunder. It wasn’t to be though.
We conceded off a corner that was needlessly conceded in the first place. Gibbs could still have saved it or at least cleared for a throw. At the same time, he probably thought to get a breather as we had been making clearances that kept coming back at us at the time. Zonal marking it was, we decided. However, I guess Mannone was not in on the ‘runs’. I’ll blame him for the goal; not Poldi or Kos or Per. When your keeper leaves his line defending a freekick, I guess it’s safe as a defender to assume he’ll get the ball. When he stays on his line, it gives you the initiative that you need to attack the ball. Well, what Mannone did, we all are aware of.
On came the 2nd half, bringing Rodwell along and off went Sinclair. In a view not exclusive of bias, he looked nothing near a shadow of his Swansea self. That substitution also further exhibited Mancini’s caution; he was ready to defend the lone goal. But who does that against Arsenal? Especially against this ‘rebranded’ Arsenal?
Well, I expected us to come outta the dressing room with each of our 11 players carrying a canon. Literally. Ready to set matters right. Sadly, for the first 20mins or thereabouts, we were flat. I tell ya, worn-bathroom-slippers flat. I had given up on the equaliser. Diaby did not even help matters. He was slowing us down in my opinion. We weren’t leading 4-1 mehn!! We needed a goal mehn!! Get on tf with it!! He never seemed to hear me. Our buzz lightyear, Santi, had also shifted a gear lower. The Forehead was at his frustrating best in the first 45 and whatever Le Boss had told him at halftime most probably flew outta the other ear. Poldi never really was in the game. And as usual, AW wasn’t ready to make changes till late on. All hope appeared lost. Ramsey continued to work hard tho. Jenks also. Per? Imperious.
Then #BOOM!! *in piers morgan’s voice*, Hart showed why he is rated by many as the best in England against Santi’s shot. It was close to him, but many a ‘keeper woulda had the ball slipping through his fingers. It had that much power behind it. In swung the corner. Poor clearance by City’s scorer, Lescott. Ball smashed in the net, away from Hart’s outstretched hand. Goal to the Arsenal. Delirium in the stands. I lost my voice screaming gooooooooaaaaalllll!!! (still looking for it even). We had done it. We had drawn level.
The team’s celebration showed and said it all. It would have been completely unfair to have lost that game. Like AW said, the least we deserved was the draw we got. And with the way we were playing, bar the Kompany bicycle kick and Aguero miss, we looked the side to get the winner. The winner did not come for either of us; but we left the Eastlands with our heads held far above our shoulders. I was proud of the team. Once again.
Apart from that error that led to City’s goal, Mannone deputised well. A couple of good saves, particularly from Kompany’s kick. His kicking is much better than Woj’s also.
The defence, as has become usual this season, was on point. On dot sef. I think not having played before yesterday affected Kos a bit. He wasn’t his commanding self for a bit, but then he grew into the game. Got the equaliser. Per was, like I said earlier, imperious. He did everything right. When he even tumbled backwards once, it appeared right to me. Made 7 interceptions yesterday. And did he lead in TommyV’s absence!! And apart from one hurried clearance into the stands, he was calm and composed. His conttrol of one cross-field ball to him when we needed to rebuild was delightful. Yours truly was of the wagon that the Kos-Verm partnership should be used against City. Per really wowed me. Jenks? I’m loving that dude more and more and more and more *insert ellipsis here*. Worked hard, both in defence and attack. I still think when he’s playing with Giroud, he should get in more crosses. Assured performance apart from when he let Aguero have that shot. Gibbs did not get to do much; but what he did, he did with minimal fuss.
I expected the middle to be where the battle would reside. And in my opinion, our midfielders did well. Apart from Diaby as the game wore-on, obviously. He just totally faded. Probably needs a rest. Diaby got turned-over so many times I got tired of groaning. His talent and skill are undeniable. But is it too late to wish he learns to pick the time to be simple and effective and when to be skillful and showboat? Arteta was always looking for an outlet to attack. Santi, our BUzz lightyear, always buzzing about the pitch and looking for openings. Always kept trying Ramsey. Hmmmn what can I say? I was impressed. I’m sure most impatient (arguably tho) fans like me woulda been impressed also. Kept running throughout the game. Did anyone else notice he did less of the little flicks and sort? That, was the Ramsey we snapped off of SAF’s fingers!
Poldi never got into the game as we have come to know he can, sadly. This was summed by his attempt to use the ball as a rocket. He worked hard for the team though. Sometimes that is all that is needed. Yesterday, I won’t have been surprised if some players yelled at teammates cos they didn’t put their hardwork to good effect. Thanks to team spirit tho, we did not see that. Gervinho (someone said once not to call him that cos he lets down the -inho suffix), le sigh. A few heavy touches, a few wrong decisions, last season’s Gervais who we thought was in the abyss of our past. He frustrated me to no end. Liked the work rate though. He kept trying till the end. It’s even arguable that he was trying too hard is why he lost composure a few times.
Walcott, Coquelin and Giroud were late subs (emphasis on ‘late’, a phenomenon seemingly becoming the Arsenal way). Olivier added presence. Walcott should have added width and pace. He probably forgot them on the bench before getting on the pitch. Coquelin was supposed to further tighten things up in the middle. There was little time for them to have had considerable effect anyway.
Overall, we did well but should have done better. We have to learn to begin to kill games off in the 1st half and maintain concentration not to lose ground in the 2nd. If we had scored our goal earlier yesterday, we would have won. That I am sure of. Coventry next. We should give the ‘fringers’ some game time. Long live the Arsenal.