Arsenal 1 Man City 0: Mikel Arteta’s Piledriver Drives a Nail into Man City’s Title Coffin
Hours before kickoff, I published a list of 10 Bold Predictions for the game against Manchester City.
It was fair to say that I was spot on in some of my predictions while I was way off in others. Many Gooners probably prayed to the Heavens not to see Aaron Ramsey on the starting line up and their wishes were duly granted.
However, his replacement wasn’t the exuberant Ox or Le Forehead, that didn’t even make it to the bench. It was the forgotten Rabbi, Yossi Benayoun.
Both clubs had everything to play for and a draw would have been a disastrous result for both teams. Arsenal were on top gear all game long and would’ve had a chance from the penalty spot when Vincent Kompany had a little bit of some Robin van Persie in the box.
Martin Atkinson gave deaf ears to Arsenal’s appeals but If you reconstruct the same scenario in Old Trafford, a penalty and probably a straight red card will suffice.
Eyes were firmly fixed on Robin van Persie that was one goal away from entering the history books for yet another record.
Van Persie was the quickest to react from a Mikel Arteta corner but his effort ricocheted off Thomas Vermaelen’s body to the cross bar. A good chance gone begging.
I predicted that the obnoxious and arrogant Mario Balotelli would stir up some controversy but his first telling contribution to the game was extremely shocking and disgraceful.
The Italian maverick went studs up on a challenge and caught Alex Song on his shin. The tackle looked worse with each passing replay but the man with the whistle did nothing about it.
Balotelli almost put the visitors up from a corner kick but his attempt was blocked by the Arsenal defensive line. Shortly afterwards, he let out his frustrations on the unfortunate goal post.
The last chance of the first half almost went Balotelli’s way yet again but Wojciech Szczesny assumed the role of a defensive sweeper to save his club’s bacon.
Manchester City almost had the upper hand after the interval when Sergio Aguero sent a goal-bound header that was nicked to safety by Szczesny.
Arsene Wenger replaced Kieran Gibbs with Andre Santos and the Brazilian got into some trouble for a cynical challenge on Balotelli. Benayoun made a slalom run evading his markers but his finish didn’t match the build-up.
Alex Song supplied one of his trademark over-the-top projectiles that was headed goalwards by van Persie. Joe Hart was rooted to the spot but his goal post spared his blushes.
Song showed some good awareness in midfield before teeing up van Persie with another sublime through ball but Arsenal’s captain strayed offside.
Arsenal huffed and puffed on Manchester City’s defense but the door remained shut. Another brilliant attack orchestrated by Tomas Rosicky saw Bacary Sagna drill his cross into the danger area. Theo Walcott hit it first time but his effort clipped the post. Vermaelen’s follow up was poor and a golden chance slipped past the Gunners yet again.
Wenger sent Aaron Ramsey and the Ox into the fray but the match clincher arrived when Mikel Arteta epitomized Arsenal’s new pressing principles by closing down a player on the ball.
He fashioned a chance for himself and smashed in a delightful piledriver that beat Joe Hart on his near post.
Balotelli showcased his immature side with an unnecessary lounge on Sagna, earning himself a second bookable offence. That red card was the fourth in his Man City career and he already has 22 yellow cards to his name too.
Late on, Laurent Koscielny fouled Tevez but Arsenal sprang a counter-attack after defending the free kick.
Andre Santos found Rosicky who in turn created a chance for Aaron Ramsey. Van Persie was free on the far side but Ramsey dallied on the ball before killing a bird in the sky with it, much to the rage of his captain.
If the match was still tied at 0-0, only God knows what would’ve become of the Welshman after he spurned that effort. Many believe that Ramsey had no plans of killing another prominent figurehead on Earth so he “chose” not to score.
Szczesny (7.0) had a relatively untroubled afternoon but he kept his concentration levels in check.
Sagna (8.5) bombed down the right flank and was immense in defense.
Gibbs (7.0) put up another steady shift but was withdrawn a bit early. I hope he’s okay
Vermaelen (8.0) was a colossus in defense and forge a great partnership with Koscielny (8.0)
Song (8.5) stamped his authority as I predicted and was a few inches away from assist No. 14 when RVP’s effort clipped the post.
Our old Number 8 (Na$ri) left us for more money and was totally anonymous today. Our new Number 8 (Arteta 9.0) took paycut to play for us and put up a heroic performance, capping it up with a goal.
Rosicky (9.0) pulled all the strings in midfield and was ubiquitous yet again.
Walcott (6.5) had a stinker in the first half but showed more verve in the second. He was also unfortunate to hit the post.
Banayoun (6.5) didn’t really light up fireworks down the left. Made an extremely important tackle at the back though.
Van Persie (7.5) didn’t get on the scoresheet but he supported the attack well with brilliant flicks. Unfortunately hit the post.
Andre Santos (7.5) showed off his Brazilian deft touches.
Ramsey and Ox didn’t play long enough to get a rating.
From the positive side, Arsenal grabbed three points, usurped Tottenham to 3rd place and have given themselves some space off the prowling Chelsea and Newcastle.
Man City have failed to record a shot on target in a PL game for the first time since the away game at Arsenal last season and they now have failed to score in four of their last five Premier League games against the Gunners and each of their last five visits to the Emirates Stadium.
The quote of the day goes to Kanyeezy,
RT eromzy: Arsenal’s First XI: £45.55m. Man City Substitutes: £113.5m. #Arsenal.. YOU CANT BUY CLASS!
In an epic battle of Class vs Cash, Class had the last laugh with a piledriver that drove a nail in Man City’s title coffin.
Happy Married Life Obinna Chime and Uju Eneh
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