Arsenal 0 – 0 Man City: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

What a fantastic performance. What rotten luck. One stupid moment!

I must say this game turned out to be the reverse of what I’d expected. The first ten minutes were the most exciting and Arsenal had City on the ropes for that period. After that the visitors found their defensive shape and made it much more difficult for Arsenal to open them up. The Gunners were restricted to half chances and shots from distance but Joe Hart was more than up to the challenge.

I’d expected the game to start at a steady tempo and for Arsenal to raise the stakes in the final few minutes. As it turned out Wenger’s men seemed to run out of steam and ideas towards the end but it doesn’t take anything away from a brilliant performance. The passing, movement, and telepathic understanding shown by the players early on was a real pleasure to watch.

I know some people will go crazy over the result and dropped points but we must not forget City have an incredible 11 clean sheets so far including shutouts against United, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Tottenham. I’m convinced the players gave everything and with better luck Arsenal would have picked up the three points. If anything City’s negative display was a great testament to the quality of this Arsenal side.

The Gunners had a number of chances in the first ten minutes but somewhat unfortunately all the best ones fell to the inexperienced Wilshere. The youngster passed when a clear shot was on in the second minute, then tested Hart with a long range strike, and finally had one more volley from the six yard area but couldn’t find the right angle or generate enough power.

The closest Arsenal came was in the 9th minute when RvP struck the woodwork after some excellent individual work. I loved the way the Dutchman used the defenders to shield his strike and I’ve no doubt Hart would have been beaten if the ball had curved a bit more.

The second time the upright was rattled was in the 28th minute when Cesc made an intelligent run across the 18 yard line and Nasri fed him with a delightful ball. The City Keeper was rooted to his spot as the shot was unexpected and perfectly taken, well almost. The ball rebounded off the bar and went just behind Joe Hart. It could quite easily have hit the England international and gone in for an own goal. Theo hit the bar with his follow up but he was off-side.

At that point I’m sure I was not alone in thinking this is not going to be our night.

In the final hour Arsenal pushed the visitors back but they were extremely well organized and limited the Gunners to half chances. Theo, RvP, and Nasri had a crack at goal but it wasn’t enough. Arsenal best chances in the remaining period came when Van Persie let fly from outside the box in the 61st minute. Hart came up with another excellent save.

Defensively Arsenal were fairly solid and it wasn’t a surprise that City couldn’t muster a single shot on target! In order to restrict Arsenal’s attacking threat the visitors had to sacrifice their own. There were some anxious moments no doubt but the Gunners had enough players back on most occasions to cover for each other.

The night was soured by a rush-of-blood moment from Sagna. In the final minute of normal time he went head to head with Zabaleta after a strong challenge that didn’t look malicious. The idiotic Mike Jones sent both players off after taking advice from his assistant. I cannot see how in one game a player can charge at the ref and shove him in the chest without getting so much as a booking, while in another two players get sent off for a moment of madness that wasn’t particularly nasty. This level of inconsistency in the refs is extremely worrying and annoying. And I’m being very polite when I say that.

To be fair, purely on the basis of the letter of the law, Sagna deserved a red. Zabaleta was really unfortunate. But we have seen the refs use some common sense in the big games and that was sorely missing in this one. Well I guess Sagna and Zabaleta’s luck has been transferred to Gary Neville. Surprised, anyone?! Beyond that it’s difficult to say anything about this incident without making it an expletive-ridden rant.

More importantly, Sagna will miss three games now. I’m not completely sure about this but two of those should be the Cup ties and that shouldn’t be a big issue. Hopefully, Eboue will put in a good shift in those games and against West Ham.

Individual Performances

Fabianski: swept well behind the defence, came for the ball when he had to, decent distribution, didn’t have to make a save so a relatively comfortable night!

Sagna: Excellent performance on the night till his moment of madness. Physically strong, defensively solid, struggled a bit in the attacking third but that was down to the way City always had two or three bodies to block the crosses and passes.

Djourou: Another strong display at the back, especially in the air. Made a couple of mistakes – first one was in the early minutes when he came out to intercept but lost the tackle to Yaya Toure allowing City to break on the counter, and second one was when he played Tevez onside through poor positioning but the striker blasted his shot over.

Koscielny: I liked the way he read the game, made important tackles, won some balls in the air, and generally showed a great deal of calmness. As someone once said in the comments section, the Frenchman has the ability to develop like some of the great Italian defenders.

Clichy: Another strong performance. Milner and later Adam Johnson got nothing out of him. As I’ve often said, if he gets better cover Clichy will look superb. I’d still like to see him get forward more often and with better timing but that’s something the players have to develop in training.

The defence was really solid and made Tevez and co. look like second string attackers. The organization wasn’t as strong as that shown by City but it seemed to be the direct result of the differing styles of the two teams.

Song: Immense. Worked really hard, made massive defensive contributions, especially on the right but also in the centre and the left. Couldn’t produce in the final third but we can’t really blame him for that.

Cesc: Was excellent in the opening half hour. Unlucky not to score or get an assist. Later on City were too tight and made it difficult for El Capitan. It’s good to see Fabregas coming close to his best.

Wilshere: Brilliant for his age but was a bit of a weak link in the side. Should’ve scored early on and should have done better in bringing the ball out from defence. But I don’t want to be critical of the youngster, these things can be learnt only by playing at this level and he is improving with each game.

I thought the midfield completely dominated the game against players the misery brigade wanted Arsenal to spend big money on. The only criticism would be that there weren’t enough runs into the box by the midfielders, especially in the final fifteen minutes.

Walcott: Not as effective as the earlier games but he had his moments. Should have won a penalty against Kompany because the defenders arm was raised and in an unnatural position. Crossing was decent but shooting wasn’t at his usual high standard.

RvP: excellent movement, brilliant vision, couple of shots on goal were breathtaking, could have done better with delivery on set pieces. Looked tired towards the end?

Nasri: looked dangerous whenever he drifted into the middle, great understanding with Cesc and Rvp, didn’t make enough runs into scoring positions, good job of tracking back whenever required.

The front three were excellent in the first half hour but struggled to penetrate as the game went on. They can’t be criticized for that because City were very well organized and gave everything to keep the ball out of their net.

Subs: I wasn’t convinced by the choice of Arshavin on the right but the crowd didn’t help him at all, which was extremely disappointing. Bendtner rarely got into the box.

Some people will say that Arsenal should have brought Chamakh on or put Bendtner in a central role but I don’t think it would have made a big difference. City have played against plenty of big strikers and their defence has dealt with a gazillion crosses so far. When such a team sets its mind of parking the bus it’s very difficult to break them down. I’d have preferred Rosicky over Arshavin because Little Mozart make those runs into the box and has a fantastic understanding with Cesc. But there is no guarantee that would have worked.

During the hectic Christmas period Arsenal have picked up 8 points out of twelve, dropping points against the rivals in the process, but considering the toughness of the fixtures I’m quite happy with the results. The draw against Wigan does rankle but the win at Birmingham makes up for it. A win over Chelsea and a point against an extremely negative Man City side are pretty good results.


24 Responses to Arsenal 0 – 0 Man City: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

  1. Tim says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. I think it’s important not to allow a disappointing result to cloud a pretty decent performance. Perhaps we should have brought on Chamakh, or at least put Bendtner on earlier and played him centrally, but it was just one of those nights when the ball wouldn’t go in.

    Given that United still have to come to us, play Chelsea home and away, and also have games against Spurs and City, all is not yet lost for us by any means. We just need to keep believing and plugging away, and we can certainly still close the gap.

    http://thearmchairsportsfan.com/2011/01/05/sagna-sees-red-as-arsenal-fire-blanks-at-negative-city/

  2. WC says:

    I don’t understand why Wenger puts on Bendtner and then sticks him on the wing. It was obvious after the opening 30 minutes that City settled in and the passing game wasn’t going to do as well as the first 10 minutes.

    Give Chamakh and Bendtner 30 minutes at least and bomb balls into the box because that was the only way Arsenal were going to break the blue wall. RVP started to drift off a bit in the second half and as much as he tried, he didn’t look like scoring against the 11 man defense and Joe Hart’s incredible saves.

    As much as everyone wants to be all optimistic still we’ve lost 2 points again on the leaders. I have no doubt the Mancs will lose before the end of the season, but will it be too late at that point to catch up…….

    • santori says:

      I’m as much miffed and rankled by Wenger’s substitutions.

      I thought we had City on the cosh but we dropped our level once the subs came in.

      I too would have preffered Chamakh up front with RVP operating off his shoulder in a free role.

      By that stage of the game, City were flagging and parked deep. Weneeded someone to pry them open.

      Chamakh would have added muscle and an aerial threat against Toure and Kompany.

      I’m all for a variation in approach. It’s like boxing, you need a jab but you need your hook and upper cuts too.

      Put a presence in the box to rankle the defenders so our more nimble midfielders (Fab, Nasri, AA, and RVP)can pick their way through.

      In very least it gives you an option to go wide and cross the ball to (Chamakh’s) head.

      Instead, Wenger puts Andrei out right which invariably narrows our width as the Russian has to cut in (not least operate on an unfamiliar wing)

      Nasri should have been switched right to have a go at Zabaleta and AA should have been deployed down the left.

      Even if Bendy was selected in lieu of Chamakh (as was the case), at very least put him in the box with instructions to be the biggest nuisance poss.

      Vexing to say the least. I thought the pressure would have eventually told on City and we could have nicked it but it feels like we let them off a bit at the end.

  3. mansfield says:

    Excellent analysis as usual. I agree with the sentiment of Tim’s first sentence. I thought the lads played really well tonight, full of energy and creativity. Yeah we tired toward the end of night, but to be expected after the recent run of games.

    Credit City, the defended very well for the vast majority of the game. Sometimes the ball just wont go in, no matter how classy the shots are.

    A pretty obvious critique of the game is how late Wenger waited before bringing on subs. I think the plot of this game was obvious pretty early in the second half and we were obviously tiring so why did he wait so long. Bendy should have been super ready to go and the little Russian is good for 1/2 an hour. When they did come on I would have hoped that VP would have shifted to the left and put Bendy through the middle.

    Anyway, a point from this game is not the worst outcome, yes we are in third still behind City, but with game in hand. We keep playing the way we have been and I feel that we can go the distance. Our away form is good and we are shoring up at home.

    VCC

    • mansfield says:

      p.s now we can put the league aside and focus on some cup action!

    • WC says:

      Yes we’re behind City with a game in hand, but that’s not the Manchester we’re chasing

      • mansfield says:

        you are right WC, their not the Manchester we are chasing. I’m still optimistic that we can do really well with the games we have remaining. We can take three off of United when they come visit us and just hope that some team that united still have to play take some points from them.

        VCC

  4. Stingy Voyeur Implodes says:

    I hate Italian anti football bus parking counter attacking footy. Bad for the game.

  5. santori says:

    This was an excellent display from the team.

    As you mentioned :

    1) You could feel the fluidity in the side and there should be a strong argument now to retain this selection in as much as possible (given some tweaks here and there)

    2) Our midfield out muscled, out passed and outthought the supposed ‘Hardmen’ of City and yes, where are all those who called for a better DM? Song was immense and IMO MTOD for me.

    3) In as much as City were set up negatively to defend, we must be commended for our ability to pick past them time and again. On another day (with luck and more sensible substitutions), we would have carried the 3 points but carry on like this and I am optimistic that we can close the gap against United (and overhaul City sooner than later)

    4) Excellent to see fabregas coming back into his best. His footwork and passing was at times brilliant. More to come from him. As much as people keep saying that United are yet to get into gear, I think we too have more to offer.

    5) Shooting! Great to see us shoot from distance. RVP still lacks sharpness but no faulting his efforts or effort here. Again, I think if we have yet to break an obdurate team down with 20mins to go, there is reason to smack a big man up top and have RVP play off his shoulder in a free role. The aim should be to create space so :

    a)our more nimble players can pick their way through

    b)we have more space for shots

    c)we have the option of someone in te box to cross to (thereby again giving reason to spread the game out wide)

    Pity the missed opporunities but extremely satisfied with our performance.

    Ref was a complete berk issuing those reds with 4 minutes on the clock left BTW.

    and Clean sheet. 😛

    • mansfield says:

      i like the cut of your jib santori

      • ShaneGunner says:

        Desi,

        Excellent analysis as always and a happy new year to you!

        Do you still think we need to buy a defender in this January window? It looks like as long as this first team stays injury free, they are capable of achieving something this season…

      • desigunner says:

        Happy New Year ShaneGunner

        I feel Arsene will have to buy if there are doubts over Vermaelen. Three central defenders for the rest of the season will be a risk.

  6. Zgunner says:

    This was more boring than Barca-Inter from last year’s CL…

    Arsenal are lovely though…

  7. Claver says:

    What is disconcerting is that teams can actually come to the Emirates and sit back at the moment. It just means we are not making them uncomfortable enough.

    If Vermaelen is proper, I think Wenger should consider getting an exceptional attacking midfielder/striker. Perhaps Ramsey will put in some goals.

    Man City did the same thing that Man Utd did, so we really need some exceptional striker/midfielder upfront who can cause havoc.

    • desigunner says:

      I think this game was a special case because, as I mentioned in the post, hardly any top team has scored against City this season. They’ve played 0-0 with Arsenal, United and Spuds while winning against Chelsea and Liverpool while keeping a clean sheet.

      Against United Arsenal didn’t have Cesc and RvP anywhere near their best so the two games are quite different. Similar arguments can be made about the loss against Newcastle.

  8. Arsenal says:

    It was a great performance from our best 11. Over the last few years, our second name is ”Wasteful” so a 0-0 was expected.The result is okay for both teams.It is not the end of the world.Now it will be important that Spurs take something from Man Utd in the next match day.I don’t really care that we will not win the title this season.I love the players we have.I love the way we play.I want us to keep it that way.Almunia, Arshavin and Rosicky will be gone in the summer.Pedro Botelho and Vela will have chances in the first team.Frimpong will be given a lot of games next season.Aneke will participate in some Carling Cup games.A few others are emerging as well.So there are quite a few other things to be excited about.Trophies are not everything.
    Also, I don’t know why many Arsenal fans booed City in the end and are very unhappy with their tactics.Back in the 80s, we were called Boring boring Arsenal and we won a lot of trophies with that style. Man City could not make a single attack against Blackpool away before David Silva came on 15 min before the end and they managed to score 3 goals although 2 of them should not have counted.I think he is the reason they weren’t able to create a single opportunity.

  9. Furic says:

    “The youngster passed when a clear shot was on in the second minute.” Can’t believe you think he should of shot at goal! The pass was exactly the right option. All he had to do was slide an easy ball to any of the three unmarked Arsenal players waiting for a tap in and it’s 1-nil. Somehow he slips over and overhits the pass for a goal kick. It was by far the greatest chance and it was a terrible missed oppurtunity.

    What a performance though by Arsenal. Brilliant going forward and defensively solid. This team can win the prem no doubt. 7 points can be made up. Arsenal just need to go on a massive winning streak but they are capable.

    I can’t believe how patheticly City perform against Arsenal. Not only do they stick 11 men behind the ball but they didn’t even press Arsenal in their own half or break quickly on the counter. What a boring, negative and most importantly useless performance from City. (Having said that, they’ll probably go on and win the title.)

    • Furic says:

      In fairness RVP appeared to be offside so Wilshere could of shot as you said and was certainly in a good enough position to do so. Either way, that was the moment Arsenal really should ofcapitalised on.

  10. kloney says:

    Great performance and great analysis desi. This is the club to be proud of. Eventhough we are critical about analysis, there is no dull moment with ARSENAL FC. Up gunners!!!

  11. Dark Prince says:

    Really dont like saying this, but is this the time we start hoping that our london neighbours – Spurs n Chelsea, play decently so that they can steal some points from United?? Especially Chelsea in this case, bcoz United hav 6 points at stake against them.

    • desigunner says:

      I’d love to see Chelsea beat United. Don’t think Spuds are good enough to do it. Chelsea should buy one or two and then finish the season strong. We don’t have to care about them anymore so I really hope they get better 🙂

  12. critic says:

    @claver
    If somehow one of the shot had gone in u wud have praising wenger.
    We were fantastic but unlucky.

  13. Mark says:

    disagree on wilshere. he’s a key link for Arsenal in that Xavi-like role he plays.

  14. Claver says:

    @critic

    Don’t get me wrong, you cannot discredit our team for an excellent, fantastic performance. However, we can not sit back and say job done.

    We need to win, win, winwhilst mainting our core values. That is why I feel a striker/attacking mid- (can I dream of Kaka?) would have pushed us that inch inside the post and forced a change in tactics by Man City.

    City have an excellent powerful squad, if they played their cards in that way it means we need something extra. We need to win not draw. Definitely not lose.

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