Daily Archives: December 19, 2011
Arsenal was on a blistering run of form before it ended abruptly in the hands of Manchester City. The game was an enthralling encounter that provided end to end football with the neutrals fully entertained.
Both teams needed victories for various reasons; Manchester City needed a win to go back to the top of the pile while the Gunners needed a victory to continue their resurgence to challenge for a Champions League spot.
A scrappy goal from David Silva was enough to hand the moneybags victory over Arsene Wenger’s side but the Gunners shouldn’t be downhearted because the performance was good enough to hand them three points on another day.
Despite the painful loss, there are a few positives taken from the game. Here’s my take.
Wojciech Szczesny’s performance
Arsenal began this season with four registered goalies but the young Pole has risen from the shadows to be one of the finest shot stoppers in the Premier League. When Arsenal visited the Etihad Stadium, Szczesny was on the end of some well-taken shots from the Manchester City attack and he performed admirably.
He dominated his area well and he instilled confidence on his back line. Joe Hart proved that he could be the difference between three points and a point when he saved Thomas Vermaelen’s effort late on but Szczesny can give himself a pat on the back for his performance.
Thomas Vermaelen’s technique
The Verm started the game in the left back position and did well to quell the threat the Manchester City attack posed from the right. When he returned back to his favored position, he thrived well and supported the attack well with his surging runs forward.
Late on, he received a carefully-weighted ball from Mikel Arteta used his technique to send in a curling shot goalwards and it would have been enough to salvage a point for Arsenal if not the heroics of Joe Hart in goal.
Laurent Koscielny arrived from FC Lorient last season as a relatively unknown center back and he has grown from strength to strength under the tutelage of Arsene Wenger the Alchemist. He amassed the highest amount of playing minutes last season due to the countless injury problems Arsenal’s defense faced.
Against Manchester City, Koscielny put up a Man of the Match performance showing off his amazing anticipation skills as well as some unorthodox jinking runs to support the attack. Koscielny shoved off the threat of Mario Balotelli and Sergio Aguero and he also performed admirably when he was deployed to the right back position after Johan Djourou suffered an injury.
It’s fair to say that Arsenal’s defense is in crisis because the personnel in that department keep suffering unfortunate injuries. Arsene Wenger fielded four recognized center backs against Everton last week and he was forced to use an unchanged defensive line against Manchester City.
When Johan Djourou suffered what seemed like a groin injury, the defensive line’s versatility was put to the test again as Ignasi Miquel, a recognized center back was deployed to the left back position while the impressive Laurent Koscielny filled in at right back.
Gervais Yao Kouassi’s days are numbered in Arsenal as he has been resigned to represent his country in the 2012 African Cup of Nations but he put up another impressive performance while wearing the sacred Red and White.
Gervinho ran at the Manchester City defense line and he did well to switch flanks with Theo Walcott to terrorize the defenders in Sky Blue with his mazy runs. He almost provided an assist for the red-hot Robin van Persie but the Dutchman’s finish didn’t match the buildup.
The Gunners put up a good fight in adversity after falling behind from David Silva’s goal and will be proud of the performance they put up. Despite conceding early in the second half, they created chances but their profligacy coupled with Joe Hart’s splendid save late on was enough to let them go back to London with…nothing.
Despite these positives, the major down point of the match remains Andrey Arshavin’s lethargic performance and the warning signs are already there for Arsene Wenger to get a player as versatile as Lukas Podolski because he could be deployed in the wings while Gervinho represents Ivory Coast in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in January.
Should Wenger not decide to buy Podolski or any other forward, I think it’s high time for the manager to give a chance to Ryo Miyaichi or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as these youngsters are raring to go unlike the unconcerned Russian. He also has the experienced Yossi Benayoun that could add flair to Arsenal’s attack.
Despite this loss, I still believe that Arsenal has what it takes to qualify for the Champions League at the end of the season.
As Jack Wilshere told the Spurs fans after placing his £3,000 bet:
“All Spurs fans are buzzing they are ahead of us in the league.”
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
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