Manchester City 6 (Aguero 14, Negredo 39, Fernandinho 50, Silva 66, Fernandinho 88, Toure, 95) – Arsenal 3 (Walcott 31, 63, Mertesacker 92)
Man of the Match – Fernandinho (Manchester City)
In the end, it was devastating as well as harrowing. Arsenal’s efficient machine that went to the top of the table was temporarily ground to a halt after a clash with Manchester City’s steamroller of an attack.
Arsene Wenger made some surprising changes to the squad, with Theo Walcott returning to the starting line up. Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Santi Cazorla were all benched, with Nacho Monreal and Bacary Sagna starting in the full back positions, after Kieran Gibbs was ruled out rather hushingly.
Manchester City have already built a reputation of being ruthless at home, having scored 29 goals in 7 games already, thrashing Manchester United 4-1 and Tottenham 6-0, while swatting away other teams such as Newcastle (4-0), Hull (2-0), Everton (3-1), Norwich (7-0) and Swansea (3-0).
And they didn’t leave it at that as they started pounding Arsenal from the minute go. The opening minutes saw some quick passing, as City won a few corners, with Arsenal stuttering to hold on to the ball in midfield.
After about 7 minutes, the game settled down, with Arsenal slowly looking to come forward. They even created their first chance of the game, when Theo Walcott fooled Gael Clichy to set up Jack Wilshere, who didn’t have the required composure to slot the ball home, under little pressure, and scuffed his effort wide.
City’s response was devastating. A loose ball was headed outwards by Laurent Koscielny, with the referee failing to notice the chasing Negredo was clearly offside. Off the resulting corner, a Demichelis header was sent right into the path of his falling compatriot, who managed to toe the ball into the net, having escaped the attention of Koscielny. 1-0 City.
City looked to enhance the lead, but this time had to deal with a slightly sterner Arsenal, as the visitors looked for an equalizer. It would come on 30 minutes, when Aaron Ramsey robbed the ball off the otherwise impressive Yaya Toure in the middle of the park, to play in Mesut Ozil, making a run on the left. Giroud and Ramsey had both set themselves up in the penalty box, but Ozil deftly played in a spearing Walcott, who calmly slotted the ball home, Pantilimon hopelessly looking on. 1-1.
Manchester City were creating more and more chances, and had a golden chance, when on a break, Negredo was released, having beaten Koscielny. However, his left footed effort went narrowly wide off the far post, Szczesny already beaten.
Arsenal weren’t making things easy for themselves, and Nacho Monreal was having a bad day in the office, defensively. Pablo Zabaleta was constantly thwarting the Spaniard with his darting runs, and he turned provider, after being played in beautifully by Yaya Toure over the Gunner’s defence. His pass was toed in by Negredo under Szczesny. 2-1 City. The goal had further repercussions as Koscielny suffered a gash in the process and had to be replaced by captain Thomas Vermaelen.
5 minutes into the second half, and Arsenal had again triggered self destruction mode, when off a throw in, Ozil passed the ball to Flamini, who slipped, allowing the impressive Brazilian Fernandinho to take over. He curled in beautifully into the top corner, from 30 yards. A beautiful finish. 3-1 City.
After that, it was a case of Giroud’s misses in front of goal. He was presented with 3 chances, and he missed all. First, he was set up deftly by Wilshere’s chip over City’s defence, but he completely miscued his effort. Next, he found himself unchallenged in City’s box, and with Walcott crying out for a pass, he inexplicably put the ball out of play. Moments later, his diving header off a Sagna cross scraped the post.
Arsenal were denied a clear penalty when Zabaleta handled the ball in the area, leading to some furious protests from the players. All of Arsenal’s pressure finally told, when Walcott scored his second of the game, having been set up by Aaron Ramsey. 3-2.
Jesus Navas, on for Sergio Aguero, then bewildered his countryman Monreal to set up another compatriot David Silva just moments later to make it 4-2 to City. It was a situation of “What you can do, we can do better!”. The Gunners should feel hard done by, when Olivier Giroud had the ball in the back of the net, under pressure from Zabaleta, but it was ruled out for offside, while replays clearly showed otherwise.
Arsenal weren’t done yet, and Wilshere’s thunderous effort saw Pantilimon stretching to the fullest. Wenger made some changes, bringing on Serge Gnabry for Mathieu Flamini, and then Bendtner of all players, for Giroud, instead of utilizing Cazorla or Rosicky.
Arsenal were to blame for their own misdoings as they constantly lost the ball in midfield, either to the physicality of Toure and Fernandinho, or failing to complete proper passes. City scored their next goal with ease, with Fernandinho skipping past several Arsenal players to eventually chip the ball over Szczesny. 5-2 City.
Bendtner then had the ball in the back of the net, again ruled out for offside, another poor decision from the linesman. Mertesacker though had his goal made valid, in the 92nd minute, as he headed from close range to make it 5-3.
The goal glut wasn’t done yet, as James Milner was felled by Szczesny in the box, to earn City a penalty, neatly dispatched by Yaya Toure. There was no time for a restart, and the scoreboard emphatically read Manchester City 6 Arsenal 3.
Well, there are plenty of reasons as to why Arsenal slumped to such an astounding loss, whilst still at the top of the league. 6 days and 3 tough games, Everton at home, Napoli and City away, considering the fact that City had an extra rest day after their 3-2 win over Bayern Munich in Germany.
Yes, fixture congestion is not really a valid reason, but there were clear signs of exhaustion from some of Arsenal’s players. None more so than Giroud. He was under par last evening, and it was clear to see why. The fact that we need to get Niklas Bendtner on as a striker to rescue games is worrying. A good backup striker to Giroud is an absolute must if we are to contest for the title.
The refereeing was horrendous. Not only were we denied two clear goals, one each from Giroud and Bendtner, we were also turned down a clear penalty when Zabaleta handled the ball in the area. Yes, refereeing decisions are something we again shouldn’t complain about, but it added to an already bulging scoreline.
There were too many individual mistakes on the night. Both Fernandinho goals were results of poor or incomplete passing; Koscielny failed to keep watch on Aguero for the first goal, while Nacho Monreal, in all honesty, had an awful time against his compatriots Alvaro Negredo, David Silva and Jesus Navas.
Why the manager did not bring on the energy of Tomas Rosicky and the guile of Santi Cazorla late on beats me. Bendtner had little to offer last evening. Mesut Ozil had a quiet evening himself, and was given a earful by stand in skipper Mertesacker at the final whistle, for not applauding the travelling fans. Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere had error strewn games.
Theo Walcott seemed in good nick, scoring twice, the second of which was a peach, and that is the only positive, of what otherwise was a dismal performance. 8 days of solid rest and preparation should do the team some good, with Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea looking to close down the 2 point gap.
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