Arsenal 0 – 1 Manchester City: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

Arsene went with a 4-4-2 in a system that was designed to give games to players rather than a clear tactical move. Mancini retained his 4-3-3 but was surprisingly defensive in his approach with Kolarov playing as a left winger, at least for half an hour!

The first half was largely uneventful with neither side really creating many chances. City’s experience was being countered by Arsenal’s youthful energy and desire in the middle. Hargreaves and De Jong didn’t command the midfield as City fans would have expected whereas Nasri was anonymous for most of the game. Both sides were looking at their right-sided winger to create but the defences were mostly well organized.

Arsenal created two noteworthy chances in the first half. After a long range strike by Johnson that just went over the bar, the Gunners created what was probably their best chance of the game in the 12th minute. Oxlade-Chamberlain brought the ball forward before finding Chamakh on the edge of the box. The striker did really well to hold the ball and suck in three opponents before sliding it wide for Coquelin. The youngster played a superb early cross to the back post where Park arrived on time but couldn’t sort his feet out to generate enough power. Nevertheless, it drew a big save from the keeper.

Then in the 29th minute AOC unleashed a rasping drive from 25 yards after a neat one-two with Chamakh. It looked spectacular but the Keeper always had it covered.

At the other end there were a few dangerous balls across the box and one occasion where Fabianski had to be sharp to smother a through-ball from Nasri.

City were patient and waiting for their chance while ensuring their goal wasn’t always exposed. Around the 40 minute mark City had 60 percent possession but very little to show for it as most of it was at the back of middle.

When Arsenal did get a chance to go forward the players ran out of ideas in the attacking areas. There were a number of moments when the Gunners had three or more players on the edge of the box and a similar number 15 yards away from the box but in such situations the play got very static and lacked impetus/incision. It was a clear case of individuals lacking understanding due to lack of games and a need for a bit of functional, pre-determined play that Wenger seems to have abandoned completely.

Both teams upped their game in the second half. Dzeko curled one close to the goal a couple of minutes after the restart. Oxlade-Chamberlain forced a couple of punches from Pantilimon at the other end.

A clear warning sign came in the 54th minute when Johnson put Aguero clean through. Only a poor touch from the Argentine allowed Coquelin the chance to nick the ball away. But that moment, along with the number of times City were able to burst forward from Arsenal’s corners/crosses, highlighted the big weakness the visitors could exploit. Most of their efforts were foiled by a combination of errors from the visitors and/or excellent tracking/tackling by the Gunners but they just needed one move to fall in place.

Wenger made two good substitutions. Gervinho came on for Park in the 68th minute and Vermaelen for Miquel on 80. It looked like Arsenal had the momentum and were pushing forward in earnest.

The goal, when it came in the 83rd minute, was an all too familiar story. As Wenger has often lamented, “We were a bit naive. Corner for us, goal for them.” It started with a poor delivery at the near post, one of many from Oxlade-Chamberlain. Dzeko was able to attack the loose ball on the edge of the City box with Koscielny and Benayoun competing. Both Arsenal players went to ground and the field opened up for the Bosnian. On the centre line, Frimpong was marking Johnson while Djourou was on Aguero. The youngster attempted and ill-advised off-side trap allowing Johnson the chance to get past him. But the bigger mistake came from the experienced Swiss defender who let Aguero run past him unchallenged. He should have tracked the run better or could just have brought the player down before he got anywhere near the goal to pick up a booking. City didn’t have anyone else forward.

There were six or seven ways Arsenal could have prevented this goal. It was City’s first shot on target but you couldn’t say it wasn’t coming.

After the goal the visitors were confident in sitting back. Arsenal got into dangerous crossing positions but the players just didn’t know how to attack the ball in the box. It was surprising to see Squillaci staying up in the box when Vermaelen would have been a much bigger threat.

Arsenal’s criminal negligence of set-pieces was typified deep into injury time when even Fabianksi ventured forward. There were seven or more Arsenal players in the opposition box but the delivery went straight to the Keeper who, thankfully, wasn’t aware of the open goal at the other end or, perhaps, didn’t have the confidence to shoot. Interestingly, none of the Gunners showed the awareness to block the Keeper when he did kick it forward with the Arsenal goal gaping.

By and large I thought the defenders and the youngsters did very well against a quality opponent. But there are some basic problems/gaps in the way Arsenal play. Due to that the result wasn’t surprising and cannot be called undeserved.

Individual Performances:

Fabianksi: Had one moment when he came for the ball and flapped but it was a good game otherwise. His positioning was good and did really well to smother the through-ball from Nasri.

Djourou: Was very effective in defence and dominant in the air but made a major mistake for the goal. But why wasn’t he up for the Corner in the first place!? Tried to go forward occasionally but clearly not comfortable at that. Looked at ease in possession and helped soak up pressure.

Squillaci: Not bad, not bad at all. took up decent positions, got his foot in when needed, can’t recall any mistakes. Why was he playing as a striker late in the game?

Koscielny: Phenomenal defensive effort. Made a number of crucial tackles/interceptions. Was very confident on the ball and dominated his part of the pitch. A close second for MotM in my opinion.

Miquel: Struggled initially against Johnson but also made a couple of good tackles late on. Pushed forward surprisingly consistently, often ending up on edge of the opposition box. Crossing was disappointing.

Usually, I don’t blame the defenders but in this case Djourou blotted a good performance with a game-losing rookie mistake.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: Produced a number of driving runs and was involved with most of the half-chances Arsenal created. Touch and control was impressive as were some skills to get out of tight spaces. Was strong in physical battles. Needs better decision making and delivery. Corners were very disappointing.

Frimpong: Physically dominant and energetic, yet effectively disciplined performance. Good to see he didn’t get carried away. Won a number of individual battles all over the pitch against experienced opponents. Attempted a number of driving runs but didn’t really know what to do with the ball once he got forward. Could have done better for the goal.

Coquelin: MotM in my opinion. Very good awareness of space, wonderful touches and technique, solid defensive effort, could have unlocked the defence if there had been better runs up front. Should have taken the corners ahead of AOC, at least some of them.

Benayoun: Hard working game on the flank as he drifted inside in attack and dropped back to defend regularly. Expected a bit more guile and nuance from a player with such experience and skill set.

The midfield four didn’t get overrun despite being outnumbered. The work rate was exceptional, as was the desire to perform. The only criticism can be about the lack of creativity but it would be harsh on the youngsters.

Park: Ran a lot but wasn’t on the same page with his teammates quite often. Got on the end of the side’s best chance and should have done better.

Chamakh: Very effective with his back to the goal and played a key part in both the notable chances of the first half. Also won a number of headers outside the box. Shame that deliveries into the box rarely went anywhere near him.

The attack was Arsenal’s weakest area and unfortunately that’s what counts most. Chamakh was playing more as a link striker while Park just wasn’t making the runs his teammates could read and find. At the end it was disappointing to see so few crosses going towards the Moroccan.

Subs: Gervinho was lively but finishing and final ball were poor. Vermaelen should have stayed higher up the pitch. Arshavin didn’t get much time on the ball but his corners were rather aimless.

Wenger: Put out a fighting team and extracted a respectable effort. But the predictably poor goal and typically ineffective set-pieces leave a lot to be desired. Should be proud of the quality of the young players and must now take them to the next level.

29 Responses to Arsenal 0 – 1 Manchester City: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

  1. Eyasu says:

    it was nice to see Djourou and Koscielny play well. Frimpong nd Lecock look good too. I think AOC should be above AA23 in the pecking orders once Gervinho leaves for ACN in January. I think we should also buy a good striker when January comes. Things are looking good even though we lost to the team of mercenaries. Gunners up!

    • santori says:

      Not sure if Wenger did the right thing with his subs Desi.

      I would have pref if he had subbed Squillaci and kept Miguel (not that the old Frenchman did anything wrong)

      Considering we had two nominal CBacks playing as fullbacks, I thought we did pretty decent.

      • santori says:

        That’s 3 considering Vermaelen played out wide.:P

        Pity Diaby was unavailable. He would have given us better penetration through the middle with Dench and Le Coq holding.

  2. kel says:

    not a bad performance from Arsenal considering the team, tho again no cutting edge in front of goal something wenger must sort out come jan. . . top class striker needed asap. . .

  3. ilham surtila says:

    i hope we can learn from this for next game in their home.. gunners till the end..!!

  4. Tom H says:

    Really good game by the young ones, if i was walcott i’d be crapping myself with chamberlain beneath him. Frimpong played well, not shy of getting stuck in. Coquelin was my man of the match aswell, pressed the ball well and a good balence of attack and defense, looks a real gem. All in all 150mill vs peanuts i thought we had a good preformance. When you see some good talent coming through a loss does’nt hurt so much. Second string team against those bunch of mercenries, the boys can hold their heads high.

  5. Charlie says:

    I think the goal came due to confusion. TV5 had come on at LB and naturally wanted to be in the area for the corner but Djourou hadn’t been told that he needed to stay back in place of Miguel who had been staying back before Vermaelen came on. Djourou was told to go back but too late, the corner was taken (very poorly) and we were left 2 vs 2 in defense with Djourou out of position. It was such a shame because that blighted an otherwise solid defensive performance. The other point to make is the lack of a cutting edge. If you don’t score in a knockout game you can’t expect to win. City may have been lucky to score from one real chance but Arsenal need a goal threat when Robin isn’t playing because Park and Chamakh didn’t look like scoring. A dependable striker like Podolski would be an excellent addition. As mentioned the performances of Miguel, Coquelin, Frimpong and Chamberlain are big positives from a negative result. They’re not far from first team quality and arguably played better than many first team performers this season.

    • santori says:


      How… why are you singling out Djourou again?

      The simple fact was that we over commited when we should have been cautious with 7 minutes to go.

      frimpong should have done better with Johnson and not get turned so easily.

      i thought Johan was trying to catch up with Aguero who had a head start on him so not much the Swiss defender could do TBH.

      Once again, you are castigating the wrong player and unecessarily IMO.

  6. Silvans otindo says:

    Tanks to the yangsters of Arsenal im pleased wid de performans many thought of 10 goals n above aginst poor arsenal,some lyk AOC,Fringpong,park n other should sometim feature in PL will make them stronger n couragious.

  7. Aussie Jack says:

    Had the City keeper been 6 feet 6 inches and not six feet eight inches tall we would have won this match. Each player in the Arsenal XI played to his own personal best level and it is hard, even unfair, to fault any of them.
    I am convinced we need not panic in finding a support for van Persie he is right here in our midst, Oxlade-Chamberlain, he`s a born centre forward.
    Gervinho is a winger not a striker but with Walcott on the other wing and RVP an Ox. in the middle things will start to happen.
    Frimpong played his heart out and it`s a big heart. If I had to chose a MOtM it would be him.

    • santori says:

      I agree.

      I think Chamberlain may have the making of a centre forward (more than say Gervinho or Walcott)

      He is robustly built, has good control, knows where to play the ball and is not afraid to have a go.

      Could be developed into the fast pace striker we are missing at the moment asset-wise. Of course we’ll have to find someone to be his surrogate out wide if this happens.;)

  8. Essien isaac says:

    Well sounds like we will beat man shity in atleast one of our fixtures in the league, wen we will use of senior gunz!

  9. Essien isaac says:

    Well sounds like we will beat man shity in atleast one of our fixtures in the league, wen we will use our senior gunz!

  10. Gunner 1886 says:

    Frimpong should have smacked that greedy S.O.B Nasri.

    I hope Man Shitty don’t win ANY trophies this year. Then I would like to see the look on the knobs face.

    Gunner For Life!

  11. VanTheManPersie says:

    This is not the first time Mancini has come with this sort of tactics against arsenal. I remember people saying Benitez always picking his team based on the oppositions stenghts and weaknesses which back fired many tiems of course but its a manger’s philosophy. EVen with all the euality on the pitch, City didnt mind playing arsenal on the break which is how most managers choose to play against arsenal and Mancini’s no different. Remember last year’s 0-0 draw at the emirates. The nature of the goal wouldnt have surprised many. I personally think Chamakh and Park arent as bad if used properly and given game time. Example, you cannot play with the same game plabn with Chamakh up top in Van persies absence. YOu got to get more quality crosses into the box as thats his game. Park needs more game time. With Carling cup out of the picture, it will be interesting to see when Park features again barring the olympiakos game which will likely feature a lot of the same players we saw today.

    Wenger somehow needs to give game time to these players, but for that we need to kill of games early and our first team needs to take chances if we are 2-0 to the good, that might give us the opporrunity to field people like park and chamakh. Coquelin i believe can be given starts in place of Song and even Arteta when they need rest.

    The olympiakos game is the last chance for Park and company as after that, they would need to play in the BPL in a busy December.

    • santori says:

      Can’t say I’m terribly upset to be out of the Carling Cup though.

      Personally glad that Wenger has reverted to using it as a venue to blood the youngsters rather than putting unecessary weightage on it at the expense of the first team.

      Plus, with City (hopefully) out of the CL, it (Carling) will at least involve them in one other competition and keep them busy on an extra front.

      OTOH, whilst it is last chance saloon for the many of our fringe players in that sense, we may see a couple of them yet in the FA cup competition.

      I thought the team gave a good account of themselves today and were a tad unlucky to lose. No embaressment to go out in this way at all and the young players/fringe ones will be all the better for the experience provided.

      Coquelin was particularly impressive but Dench didn’t do too badly either. And Chamberlain shows exceptional promise.

      Exciting times as always with The Arsenal.:D

  12. Anon says:

    Great article Desi. Have to agree with all of your points. The youngsters performance against what is possibly the best second string in the world gives a lot of satisfaction. But we really have to work on set-pieces. With Djorou, Squilaaci, Chamakh, Park in the box it is baffling that we did not even work the keeper with those corners.

  13. Tim says:

    Overall, I think we did very well against a tough CIty side, with Frimpong and Coquelin more than a match for De Jong and Hargreaves. Even Squillaci played well.

    The big difference between the two sides was up front. Chamakh and Park contributed less than RvP would have alone, and when the chance came Dzeko was positive coming forward and Aguero ruthless. A clear sign we still need striking help in the window.

    But overall I’m not disheartened, as we showed that we’ve got some excellent back-ups elsewhere which we will need in the second half of the season.

    • santori says:

      Reasonable point.

      With Chamakh going to ACN and yet to find form, and PArk not firmly off the ground as yet, may be a need to reinforce in this dept during January.

      I personally would like to see someone come in to bridge the gap between the 27-28 yr old strikers (RVP, Chamakh to some extent Park) and the uup and coming 16-19yr olds.

      Someone in the 22-24yrs ball park would be good for us to hold for another 4-5 years.

      I personally like Leandro Damiao at Internacional who is technical, quick and strong (in the air and on the deck), and he’s 22 (6’1). Very much under the radar but consistent for club.

  14. Pmjgunz7 says:

    I think Coquelin has shown today that he’s ready to dislodge Arteta in our 1st 11, he’s more mobile with pace, better tackles, good vision and great defence spliting passes.
    I think this team is very good but we can be great, if we can get Goetze to compliment Wilshere in creative ( Ramsey needs to up his game- develop his vision, markin and pace), Get a striker how wont live in RVP shadow. Finally buy a left back and move Santos upfront, then push out
    Arshavin £10m
    Bendtner £10m
    Chamakh £10m
    Denilson £5m
    Almunia free
    Vela £7m
    Diaby £8m

    TOTAL £40m (minus wages saved)

    • santori says:

      Not as easy as this when it comes to getting rid of players.;)

      Clearly you are plaing FIFA12.

    • TwoLeftFeet says:

      Stop with the dream team already!! As santori pointed out..this isn’t FIFA mate! Coquelin did well yesterday but don’t jump the gun based on one good performance..we gooners always hype up our youngsters and then boo the same lads when they don’t live up to our exalted expectations. (I remember reading posts in pre-season about how Afobe and ‘Ryodinho’ will tear up the Prem defenses!)

      Arteta has been doing a wonderful job in our midfield and brings loads of experience to an otherwise youthful side. Coquelin may eventually replace him but not just now.

  15. boyo says:

    Glad you gave Chamak some credit because I thought he played very well. He is not a Van persie but he is a top striker with good aerial and physical strength who IMO offers way more than park at this time.

    • santori says:

      Dunno…he was slow, watching him was like watching someone on slow motion or someone walking in sand.

      I think he is off pace. Had several opportunties to find the net but was a fraction late (as was Benayoun on one)

      He has to turn his form round quickly before the ACN. Otherwise I’m not quite sure how much longwer Wenger will persist with him.

      The reverse side of the equation is that we must provide him ore opportunities to tighten his game up. But just how much does he need?

      Good to see Wenger attempt a 4-4-2 with Chamakh and PArk. Quite obviiously, a number of players (not having played at length together) were not on the same wave length but there were some promising signs.

      On the flip side, I think the way young Frimpong and Coquelin manage to hold a very decent City side in a 4-4-2 should dispel any notion that we must have 3 men in the middie of the park to be efeective.

      It is a subtle measure between the 2 formations but I think our lads are getting better at pressing the ball quicker when it is turned over and that affords us better solidity overall (thereby negating any ‘disadvantages’ with 4-4-2)

  16. Coquellin was nowhere near Motm,i was following him very closely.he didn’t have half as good a game as Frimpong did.
    I think Motm was Chambo,Kozzer a close second and then Frimpo.

  17. TwoLeftFeet says:

    Wow! I disagree with you on this one Desi..I thought the lads more than held their own and Arsenal were the better team for most of the game!

    Wenger did well in terms of his tactics and team selection IMO. The midfield was tight and did not give a lot of space to City to play their game. AOC was impressive and Chamakh and Park showed some neat touches as well. Overall, the attackers were physically strong and able to hold the ball well. We did lack the cutting edge of course (easy to say when we don’t score a goal) but we did create a number of chances and the Citeh keeper was worked much more than Fabianski.

    In terms of negatives..our corners were rather disappointing and highlight our need to improve our attacking set pieces. Besides the 2nd goal against Norwich..can’t remember any goal we scored from a corner this season. I would have loved to see Chamakh attack the far most more often rather than Park as he is a better header of the ball.

    A creditworthy performance from the lads nonetheless. No team can afford the squad depth that City has and our young lads stood the test particularly well. AOC, Frimpong and Coquelin all have big futures if they can keep this up. I don’t want to indulge in transfer speculation this early but it is worth considering giving one or two of our these youngsters loan spells in the prem in Jan if possible.

    Anyway, we’re out of the League Cup now and through to the knockout in the Champs. Let’s focus on doing a job at Wigan this weekend and keep moving up in the Prem!

  18. critic says:

    Don’t talk rubbish!! arsenal don’t commit off the ball fouls. We are a clean team… :p :p :p

  19. Zinc says:

    Don’t think we can be too harsh over the goal – we were trying to win the match and were a bit naive, City played two very decisive passes (from top quality multi million pound players I might add) which made us look unorganised but in truth were hard to defend. No, it wasn’t perfect defensively but we weren’t a shambles and there were some strong individual performances again – dare we say that Koscielny has actually turned into a good defender? Over the past 10 games he’s been one of our best players.

    Youngsters look great if incomplete – Chamberlin being a good example of that, he shows promise with his ambition and vision, I hope he gets some more game time over the coming weeks, he could become an important player for us.

    Coquellin and Frimpong need to be added to the Premier League squad rotation, especially if we want them to really develop this year.

    I agree about buying a striker – I like Chamakh but I’d rather we had a genuinely top tier attacker in his place, someone who can link up with Van Persie, score goals and take the pressure off the team when RVP goes on his annual 6 month holiday.

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