Arsenal 0 – Manchester City 2 (Milner 21, Dzeko 32)
Man of the Match – Mike Dean (Referee)
Referee Mike Dean decided that it was about time he took centrestage again, and dominated most proceedings in what could have been an even more exciting match, than the fare that was already on display.
Arsenal came into this game with some reasonable form, having won 4 of their last 5 league games, while City needed to win in order to maintain the 7 point deficit, they have with table topping Manchester United.
Surprisingly, for Arsenal, Per Mertesacker was relegated to the bench, in place of Laurent Koscielny, while there were no changes upfront with Thierry Hen…Theo Walcott through the centre, and Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for support. More surprisingly, some French bloke named Abou Diaby, who is the club’s new signing, started in midfield, in place of the injured Mikel Arteta, who is feared to be facing atleast 3 weeks on the sidelines.
On the other had, Manchester City, were facing a player crisis. Yes, Manchester City were facing a player crisis. Maicon, Micah Richards, Jack Rodwell and Sergio Aguero were injured, Yaya Toure and Kolo Toure were away of AFCON duty, while $amir Na$ri escaped a good ass-whooping, through suspension.
It looked like a bright opening, with both sides whizzing the ball around, and City had the first go on goal, as David Silva saw his effort deflected over the bar by a lunging Thomas Vermaelen. Moments later, Mike Dean took the spotlight, when he saw Laurent Koscielny embracing Edin Dzeko in the penalty box.
It looked like a rugby tackle to Dean, who brandished his red card to Koscielny. This from a man, who deemed it fit to send a manager to the stands, for kicking a bottle. All this bullshit about how Dean was right in sending Koscielny off, should shut their shutters. There have been worse fouls in the Premier League than this, that have gone unpunished. Moreover, it was just 8 minutes into the game, and to award a penalty and a red card at the same time is pretty harsh.
Anyways, Edin Dzeko stepped up to take the ensuing penalty, but Szczesny saved it, just about, as it struck the post after it bobbled off his arm. He managed to prevent it from crossing the line. The Emirates was pumping in anger at every f*cking decision Dean was making, and even when his ugly bald head reared itself on the giant screen.
Arsenal had to sacrifice Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and bought on Per Mertesacker. Podolski got in a tangle with Javi Garcia, which earned City a free kick, and before Arsenal could restructure and regroup, James Milner’s thumping shot put City 1-0 up.
Arsenal were suffering from the imposed handicap, and weren’t able to get their fluent passing game going. Vincent Kompany vs Theo Walcott looked like a battle between a colossal mountain and a tiny quick boulder. Pablo Zabaleta and Lukas Podolski exchanged some choice words, and had to be separated by Vincent Kompany.
Zabaleta played a crucial role in the second goal, as he won a challenge with Kieran Gibbs, to release James Milner, whose cross was met by a Tevez flick towards the goal. Szczesny got a hand to it, but Dzeko was on hand to feed on the scraps, and duly made it 2-0. At this stage, it looked to be heading for a cricket score.
Podolski and Diaby played a wonderful 1-2, but Podolski had his shot comfortably saved by Joe Hart, who, in truth, had little to do on the night. City could have been 3-0 up, but Dzeko’s header was cleared off the line by Jack Wilshere, who was impressive throughout.
Arsenal entered the second half with more gutso and purpose than the first, and took the game to the opposition, but the Sky Blues were happy to absorb the pressure and threaten on counters. Thomas Vermaelen put up a dogged defensive display, winning several challenges, but City should have taken the lead, when Carlos Tevez was set free on goal by Dzeko, only for a last ditch palm from Szczesny.
Jack Wilshere was taking the game to City, and had several challenges flying on him from all over. Dzeko, Milner, Barry, Garcia all took potshots at the young English international, who put on a stellar show. Abou Diaby was taken off, after 60 minutes, and Aaron Ramsey was thrown to the fray, 5 minutes after Giroud had replaced Podolski.
On 75 minutes, Wilshere again surged through the City midfield, but was stopped in his tracks, by a flying Vincent Kompany, rather sliding Vincent Kompany. The Belgian captain got his marching orders, rather harshly it should be said. In the words of some random tweeter, the referee just wanted to give Koscielny some Kompany.
Mertesacker was displayed as an emergancy centre-forward, leaving only Vermaelen to counter any threats, and he did quite well, but Arsenal lacked the goal scoring instincts up front. Giroud had a couple of shots, but none really threatening, and he looked frustrated every time he gave the ball away. He had a header go narrowly wide, with minutes to go.
Arsenal almost pulled one back, when Ramsey played in Walcott, whose shot was cleared off the line by Lescott. That was the final action of a tense game.
So, mixed reactions after the game. It was a clash of two similar sides, that was poised to be an exciting battle, but immediately put to its grave by Mike Dean. Arsenal displayed plenty of fight and heart out there.
Vermaelen finally looked like a real captain. Aggressive, dogged and outspoken. He rallied his defence from time to time, and even put in a solid show himself. Mertesacker was caught out of position several times, but given the fact that he was asked to play as a forward, you can’t really blame him.
It could come down to error’s like the ones’ Koscielny committed that could lose us a top 4 finish. Go, get a room, dude. Gibbs displayed good tenacity, but he and Podolski were undone by Zabaleta and Milner. Podolski looked threatening, but he was just taking a punt at a couple of meaningless crosses. He couldn’t really have played as a centre forward, as that would have completely exposed Gibbs.
Sagna had a good game too, but looked out of breath, understandably, towards the end of the game. Cazorla was overshadowed by his Spanish teammate David Silva, on the night, but Jack Wilshere was the best midfielder, by a mile.
His extremely good close control, saw him win many a battle. His will and desire to fight it out was heart-warming. Diaby had a decent enough game, considering he is playing after yet another long injury, but the pace and physicality of the game finally got to him.
Walcott was peripheral. He, didn’t, for a single moment, look like a £110,000-a-week striker. I really don’t care about his antics and tantrums anymore. Sign the shit, or fuck off. Podolski had a decent game too, but again Zabaleta had him under check all game.
All in all, a good determined performance from the Gunners, despite playing with 10 men for nearly 70 minutes. This draw leaves us way off 3rd and 4th spot. Currently in 6th place, we are 7 points off 3rd placed Chelsea, and 6 points off 4th placed Sp*rs, but with a game in hand.
With games now coming thick and fast, clearly, we are a player or two short in almost every department. The prospect of facing Bayern Munich doesn’t look too tantalizing either. Mikel Arteta, being ruled out for 3 weeks, comes as a big hammer blow.
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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