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Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United – Blue Moon Rising

Manchester City 1 (Kompany 45’+1) – Manchester United 0

Man of the Match – Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)

It was billed as the ‘derby game of all derby games’, the ‘unmissable’ match. And, it did live up to its billing.

In the biggest game of the English domestic season, a game that would almost decide who would win the coveted Premier League trophy, on a cold night in Manchester, Manchester City finally seem to be emerging from the shadow of their much celebrated cross town rivals, Manchester United.

A packed Etihad crowd, and over 650 million viewers worldwide watched on, as the rising blue wave of Manchester took on its blood red counterpart. The prize was massive. Watching from the stands was Diego Maradona, probably the greatest footballer to have lived, and Noel Gallagher, the Oasis musician and a lifelong City fan.

Surprisingly, or rather disappointingly, Sir Alex named what seemed a defensive unit, to counter Manchester City’s talented attackers. The usual names such as Danny Wellbeck, and Antonio Valencia were named on the bench, as Fergie decided to stick to his old guard, comprising Paul Scholes, Welsh wing wizard Ryan Giggs and South Korean Park Ji-Sung. In defence, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling started. This probably indicated Fergie’s intent to break up play and not allow a repeat of October’s 6-1 humbling at Old Trafford.

There were no surprises from Roberto Mancini. His 4-2-2-2 formation has served his side well as of late. With Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero scoring goals for fun, it was all but procedural to name them on the team sheet.

Despite starting with a defensive looking unit, it was United who seemed to be making early inroads into Manchester City, with some neat passing. Wayne Rooney, playing as the lone striker, stuck to his task of frustrating City captain Vincent Kompany. Michael Carrick had a shot blocked by the Belgian, after Joe Hart could only punch the ball away.

Manchester City made their first real foray on 15 minutes, when some delightful footwork from Samir Nasri saw him beat 3 United defenders, and set up Tevez, whose low cross was cleared by Phil Jones.

Vincent Kompany got the first of many yellow cards on the evening for a nudge on Wayne Rooney, as things started to get more feisty on the pitch. Sergio Aguero made a complete hash of a volley, though he had more time to control it than he thought. Pablo Zabaleta too missed a smiliar opportunity.

Then, came the decisive moment of the match. David Silva’s corner was headed in thumpingly by Vincent Kompany, in first half stoppage time. Jolean Lescott, Carlos Tevez and Yaya Toure had positioned themselves perfectly for the corner. While Lescott drew in the attentions of Ferdinand, and to some extent Smalling, Tevez gave de Gea barely an inch of space. Kompany’s header was powerful and decisive, as he rose above Smalling, to head home, and send the crowd into raptures.

The second half started at almost similar pace as the first, and Fergie decided to twitch it, as he bought on striker Danny Wellbeck to replace Park Ji-Sung. City, turned rather negative from that point on as Carlos Tevez made way for Dutch defensive midfielder Nigel de Jong.

United, despite keeping possession for large periods, barely threatened City keeper Joe Hart. The introduction of Valencia in place of Scholes in the 78th minute did little to alter the direction of play. The tireless Yaya Toure had a shot on goal, but it went wide, as City looked to shut down the game.

Nigel de Jong then mistimed a tackle on Danny Wellbeck, which got him a yellow card and also sparked a touchline spat between Ferguson and Mancini. The furious Scot lay vent to his feelings, as the immense passion looked to have surged through the coaching staff as well. Mancini responded with words and hand gestures of his own, and it took City’s assistant manager David Platt and fourth official Mike Jones to seperate the two managers.

Ashley Young was introduced, but it was City who had more chances to seal the game, as Toure narrowly missed, while Clichy forced a save from de Gea and Nasri missed a sitter.

In the end, it didn’t matter, as Manchester City secured a famous win over their rivals, which saw them move to the top of the Barclays Premier League table, on goal difference. The title may not be won, but the Citizens can almost smell it. Two more wins, against Newcastle and QPR, and they will reach the promised land.

The parting shot of the day was captain Vincent Kompany applauding the vociferous City support, who went into a chorus of ‘Blue Moon’.

Match Ratings (Manchester City)

Hart (7.5) – Don’t remember seeing him make a single save last night.

Zabaleta (8) –  A good defensive and offensive display.

Kompany (9) – A rock at the back, all season, and yesterday. Scored the goal that could change the club’s fortunes.

Lescott (8.5) – Partnered Kompany effectively.

Clichy (8) – A good matured display. Rarely allowed Nani to run at him.

Toure (8.5) – A tireless display in the centre of midfield.

Barry (8) – Kept a tight leash on City’s midfield. Never allowed them to settle down, breaking their passing rhythm far too often.

Silva (7.5) – Creative, but not incisive.

Nasri (8) – Created several opportunites for his team yesterday

Aguero (7) – Not his best game. Missed a good number of chances

Tevez (7.5) – Never got going, but he did his part in the end.

Subs:

de Jong (7) – Helped pack the midfield, and close down the game. Made a silly foul here and there, though.

Richards and Milner – Came on too late to get a rating.

Match Ratings (Manchester United)

de Gea (7.5) – Should have dealt with the goal much better, but made a few saves that kept United in the game.

Jones (7.5) – Struggled a bit, but the best among United’s defenders.

Ferdinand (7) – Is his best past him?

Smalling (7) – Partly at fault for the goal, but a decent display after his return from injury.

Evra (6.5) –  A poor display. Allowed far too many crosses from his flank.

Carrick (7.5) – Slowed down the pace a bit, but was United’s best player last night.

Park (6.5) – Playing a high intensity game after a long time. Looked a bit jaded.

Scholes (7) – A good director of play yesterday, but not his best game.

Giggs (6.5) – Out of sorts yesterday.

Nani (7) –  Well marked by Clichy.

Rooney (7) – Never got going. Was kept under wraps by City’s defence.

Subs:

Wellbeck (6.5) – Did little to change the course of the game.

Valencia and Young – Came on too late to get a rating.

Team Ratings

Manchester City – 7.87

Manchester United – 6.95

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2012 in General, Match Reports

 

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2009-2010 Season Review – More Unfinished Business

A long pre-season over, a fresh new challenge awaited the Gunners, as they embarked upon another roller coaster ride, in what was to be the 2009-2010 season. Coming close on many fronts over the last few seasons had left everyone frustrated and here was a chance for Arsenal to redeem themselves.

Surprisingly, the only major signing was the Belgian centre-back Thomas Vermaelen. Emmanuel Adebayor had left for wads of cash. He was to later change his name to Emoneyuel Greedybayor. Kolo Toure left after examplary service to the club. Both had the same destination, Moneybags City.

The campaign started away to Everton. Arsenal had to endure a tough opening match of the season. Or was it?The Gunners completely dismantled the Toffees 6-1. The rout was started by Denilson in the 26th minute with a long-range screamer. And by half-time, 2 more goals were added as debutant defender Thomas Vermaelen headed in one and his defensive partner William Gallas also netted. And in the second half, Arsenal’s dream start continued as Fabregas netted a brace, celebrating the second by displaying a jersey with the name of his friend, and late Espanyol defender Daniel Jarque. Eduardo completed the rout before Louis Saha scored a consolation.

Big Belgian, Little Belgian!! 

Arsenal seemed to be on a goal-scoring spree as they qualified fir the Champions League group stages yet again, when they beat Scottish team Celtic 5-1 on aggregate, and Portsmouth 4-1 in the league.

However, that was that, as Arsenal faced a daunting trip to Eastlands to face both the Manchester clubs in the league. Old Trafford was the first stop, and Arsenal seemed to be on top of their rivals for most of the match, despite an early chance for Wayne Rooney. The young side created a flurry of chances, before Darren Fletcher bough down Andrei Arshavin for ‘what-should-have-been’ a penalty. But the referee didn’t oblige. Moments later, Arshavin found the ball in a perfect shooting position and let in a scorcher to hand the Gunners a 1-0 lead going into half-time. The second half started in the same frantic manner as the first had started. Wayne Rooney converted a penalty in the 59th and minutes later, Arsenal undid all their hard work as Abou Diaby headed in a disastrous own goal. A late deserved equaliser by Robin van Persie was denied by the referee.

Arshavin scores a belter!!

Manchester City were aiming to be the new force in the Premier League, with new investments coming in from the Abu Dhabi group. They had already priced away Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure from the Emirates for a combined fee of £41 million. And other high-profile signings included strikers Carlos Tevez and Roque Santa Cruz, midfielder Gareth Barry and defender Jolean Lescott, all of whom were attracted by nothing but riches. The game, in itself was an enthralling affair, with van Persie’s fine strike levelling the scores at 1-1 in the 63rd minute. Moments later, Bellamy made it 2-1 to City before Emmanuel Adebayor made himself Arsenal’s public enemy No.1. He scored in the 80th minute and ran the length of the entire pitch and overcelebrated in front of the Arsenal faithful. He was also involved in a moment with van Persie, when he stamped the latter on purpose. However, it went unnoticed and Arsenal were beaten 4-2.

Days later, Arsenal found themselves 2-0 down in Belgium in less than 6 minutes and it seemed like Arsenal were disintegrating too early. However, Niklas Bendtner equalised on the stroke of half-time, and a 78th minute equaliser by Vermaelen in his homeland was soon added on to, by a 81st minute winner from Eduardo to complete a 3-2 turnaround.

The comeback is complete!! 

Vermaelen was proving to be somewhat of a hidden centre-forward as he crashed in 2 goals against Wigan in a 4-0 triumph, the second a belter from outside the box.Blackburn were given a sound 6-2 thrashing, in a game featuring another Vermaelen screamer, after being 2-1 down at one stage.

A centre forward in disguise!

Arsenal dropped 2 points away to West Ham with a late Allesandro Diamanti penalty and days later a youthful team eliminated Liverpool from the League Cup, young Spaniard Francisco Merida, scoring a wonderful goal.

The first North London derby turned out to be a mismatch, as Arsenal beat Cunty Spuds 3-0. Fabregas embarrassed the Spurs defence, in the 43rd minute, who were kicking off after van Persie had scored the first. He took the ball of them and ran half the pitch, beating everyone in his wake to score the 2nd goal of the evening.

Spuds drubbed again!! 

Meanwhile, Eduardo was in scintillating form as he forced two own goals at Wolves in a 4-1 win. However, the run ended there as the next two league games ended in defeats, first a 1-0 loss at Sunderland, and then a home loss to a marauding Didier Drogba-inspired Chelsea. More humiliation was heaped upon as a young team were beaten 3-0 by Manchester City in the League Cup.

Arshavin re-announced himself at Anfield, months after his 4-goal display, as he scored a brilliant goal in a 2-1 win. Dirk Kuyt had scored the first for Liverpool, before Glen Johnson deflected one into his own net for Arsenal’s equalizer. It saw a reverse in Arsenal’s league fortunes, as they picked up vital wins against Hull City, Aston Villa and Portsmouth. 2 late goals from Ramsey and Eduardo saw off West Ham in the FA Cup.

Gerrard-‘What have we ever done to you, you mean mean Russian?’ 

Arsenal hosted Everton in what was one of the few matches around the country that weekend, due to heavy snowfall. Most matches had been cancelled, and it seemed even this would have been. However, brilliant work from the groundsmen ensured the match would go ahead as scheduled. And it seemed Everton would make most of Arsenal’s defensive frailties when Steven Piennar handed them the lead in the 81st minute. But, Tomas Rosicky’s late goal secured a point. Bolton were then beaten 2-0 and 4-2 in successive games.

Arsenal welcomed back experienced defender Sol Campbell on a short deal to the Emirates. He had made 195 appearances in his first spell from 2001 to 2006, winning two league titles and the FA Cup thrice. He moved on to Portsmouth where he won another FA Cup winner’s medal in 2008. He made an unsuccessful move to lower league Notts County, breaking his contract after just 1 match. He returned to Arsenal’s training base to keep fit and was offered a short term deal. He made his debut in a 3-1 loss to Stoke City, which saw the Gunners exit the FA Cup.

31st January 2010 is a date I don’t remember fondly. It was the day before the new semester began in college, and I was in the hostel to watch Arsenal host Manchester United in the league. Giving me company were around 30 glory hunters. I am sure not even 5 of them could name Manure’s starting lineup. United were 1 point ahead of the Gunners coming into this one. Every Manure goal was cheered loudly by these chums, who didn’t know shit about the sport. Anyways, Arsenal disappointingly lost 3-1.

Even this goal was to no avail, in the worst match ever!

Arsenal were haunted again by an Ivorian demon called Didier Drogba, going down 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. By now, Arsenal had fallen well behind in the title race, 9 points adrift of their Chelsea neighbors.Abou Diaby bought back some cheer as he scored the only goal in the 71st minute in a game against Liverpool.

Sol Campbell scored his last goal in the Champions League in that fateful night in Paris against Barcelona. He scored again in the Champions League Knockout stage game against FC Porto of Portugal, with the scoreline reading a 2-1 loss to Arsenal. 10 days later Arsenal travelled to Stoke, only to face a team that had been trained to play in the Rugby league. Ryan Shawcross’ wild lunge broke young Aaron Ramsey’s tibula and fibia (in short, the leg). It was another horrific injury Arsenal had suffered. I can still remember that moment, when Ramsey lie there in dire pain, calling out for the physio for help. It was another Eduardo moment, and the Gunners covered their face with their hands, not able to comprehend the injury. But, it was not to be a Birmingham as Arsenal proved their mettle with two goals in stoppage time from Fabregas and Vermaelen to secure a 3-1 win.

Ramsey’s horrific injury..

The team celebrate a resurgent win!! 

In the home game against Burnley, posters in support of Aaron Ramsey adorned the stadium, with the Gunners emerging 3-1 winners. 3 days later, Arsenal turned on the style in Europe. Down 2-1 from the first leg, Arsenal saw themselves leading 2-0 after just 25 minutes, with both goals being scored by the heavily-criticized Dane Niklas Bendtner. The 63rd minute saw the lead being extended to 3 goals, as Samir Nasri beat a host of defenders, and proving he can step up to the role of Cesc Fabregas, to score a peach. Emmanuel Eboue scored in the 66th, before Bendtner completed his hat-trick with a stoppage time penalty.

Bendtner and Nasri, brilliant against Porto!! 

A trip to the KC Stadium proved to be fruitful, as Bendtner turned out to be the match-winner to secure a 2-1 win with a really late strike. This still kept Arsenal in the title hunt. Arsenal were 2nd, level on points with leaders Chelsea at 64 points, and a point ahead of United, having played a game more.

Bendtner’s 90th minute goal!! 

After beating West Ham 2-0 at home, Arsenal failed to go just 1 point behind leaders Chelsea after being denied a win at St. Andrews, thanks to a late Kevin Phillips equaliser. And, Arsenal were still going strong in Europe and had been drawn to a formidable Barcelona team. While Barcelona were near full-strength, Arsenal were still without first-choice striker Robin van Persie. A half-fit Fabregas led Arsenal into the match.

Barcelona were completely dominant in the first half, and only a resolute Manuel Almunia kept them at bay, as he pulled off a flurry of saves. To Arsenal’s misfortune, they suffered two more injuries as Gallas and Arshavin were substituted before half-time, with the lesser-experienced and lesser-talented Denilson and Eboue. Barca made most of it, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the first a minute after the second half started. He rocked Arsenal again 13 minutes later to double the advantage. It seemed all was over for Arsenal that season in Europe. Just then, Theo Walcott fired in Arsenal’s first in the 69th minute to provide a glimmer of hope. As Barca huffed and puffed to hold on to the precious lead, Carles Puyol bought down fellow Catalan Cesc Fabregas in the box and was sent off. Fabregas converted and made it 2-2, but by now he was limping in pain, and played the last 10 minutes without complaining. The match ended 2-2, leaving the Gunners a mountain to climb at the Nou Camp.

El Capitan wins and scores the equaliser! Legend!

Back in the league, Wolves provided stiff opposition, only for Bendtner to pop up with a valuable winner in the 94th minute, the very dying embers of the game. This win kept them 3 points behind the leaders Chelsea, with 5 games to go.

Bendtner to the rescue again!!

Camp Nou was the setting of the beginning of the end. A Messi masterclass. In the 18th minute, Walcott sent Bendtner through. The Dane missed, but scored off the rebound. I remember that goal. I was so mad at Bendtner, I would have killed him if he were next to me. But, he redeemed himself seconds later. Arsenal were 1-0 up at the Nou Camp. That joy was shortlived as 3 minutes later, Barca were level through that superhuman Lionel Messi. By half-time, it was all but over as Messi scored two more to hand the Catalans a 3-1 lead. The second half was more a regulation, and Messi rounded off with his 4th of the night in the 88th minute. A weak Arsenal had been thoroughly beaten.

A Messi masterclass! 😦

Arsenal’s last shot at silverware was the league, and nothing short of 15 points in the next 5 games would give the chance for Arsenal to life silverware. First stop, Shit Fart Lane, in a forgettable North London derby. It was the day when some cunt called Danny Rose decided to be Ronaldinho for a second. His blazing shot from planet Saturn was unstoppable. Soon enough, in the 47th minute, Spurs doubled their advantage through Welsh winger Gareth Bale. Robin van Persie made a comeback after a long injury layoff in the 68th minute, but was denied a goal on several ocassions by Gomes, who decided he would be Oliver Kahn for 25 minutes. Bendtner’s 85th minute goal was just a consolation, as Arsenal created a 6 points gap between them and the leaders.

Some pride was restored at the DW Stadium, as Arsenal took an unassailable 2-0 lead against Wigan. Or it was, I thought. Wigan heaped heartbreak over the Gunners, with 3 goals in the final 10 minutes, to snatch a 3-2 win. In this game, Charles N’Zogbia decided he had Roberto Carlos’ left foot. The title race was over for Arsenal.

Dejection! 😦

Another loss awaited at Ewood Park, before a final day home win over Fulham meant a 3rd place finish and no trophies to show for.

Chokers?Goners?’Throw away your chances’ team?Well, all of it were terms branded by the media over Arsenal, as the club completed their 5th season without a major trophy.

Well, my love for Arsenal?It was the same old, boundless.

Jai Arsenal 🙂

Summary:

Premier League – 3rd place

FA Cup – 4th Round

Carling Cup – 5th Round

Champions League – Quarter Finals

Top Scorer – Cesc Fabregas (19 goals in all competitions)

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2011 in Season Reviews

 

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