The Gunners managed to secure a much deserved point after returning center-back Laurent Koscielny scored a late equaliser to finish the game at one goal apiece. The match itself was a very entertaining affair with the Gunners going toe-to-toe with the Champions and largely outplaying them in the first half through sheer technical brilliance. However, the pressure would bring no reward as Lescott’s headed goal just before half-time proved to deflate the Gunners. The Gunners rallied however and grabbed a late equaliser after the ball dropped fortuitously to Koscielny on the back of an Arsenal corner, earning them a share of the spoils.
First I would like to start with defence and how well they performed today. It was a huge blow to discover that Vermaelen would not play due to illness, but both Koscielny and Mertesacker coped extremely well without the Arsenal captain. Plaudits must go to Mertesacker, whom I thought would struggle with the speed of City’s play. To the contrary however, the tall German used his excellent positional awareness to make a number of key interceptions and also used his height to great effect in aerial challenges. The returning Koscielny also produced an inspired performance with a typically dominant display. Wenger definitely has a good problem on his hands going into next week.
On the topic of defence, you must also applaud the mature performances of both Gibbs and Jenkinson, particularly the latter. I still remember the day when Jenkinson was completely out of his depth in the mauling by Manchester United, but today he showed how far he has come in such a short time. The youngster looked sound on defence, comfortable on the ball and also provided an excellent attacking outlet on the right flank, proving to be persistent thorn in the side of the City defence. This was no more evident than when he battled Lescott for what many would consider a lost cause and came out on top. A great individual performance!
These days it also seems you can’t talk of a good Arsenal performance without the name Cazorla. The little Spaniard again showed his immense skill-set and great vision and alongside Arteta, Ramsey and Diaby produced some interplay that was amazing to watch. No matter how much pressure City applied, the Gunners managed to simply pass their way around it in the first-half. It was a shame however that we were unable to convert some of the great chances our midfield carved out.
Talking of missed chances, I can understand there will be a lot of frustration aimed towards Gervinho. In the latter stages of the match he definitely dwelled on the ball to long and often took the wrong option in driving towards goal. But is must also be said that the Ivorian was definitely a lively figure up front and got into some great goal-scoring positions, while also creating space for his team-mates with his willingness to run. Admittedly he had an off day in terms of finishing, but if he keeps getting into these positions surely the composure will come in front of goal.
Lastly, on a more negative note, I am definitely starting to feel for Giroud. It was pretty clear in the latter parts of the match something needed to change and bringing on Giroud gave Arsenal a genuine target-man up front. It was frustrating to see however, that the Gunners were reluctant to put a cross into the box and chance their arm on Giroud’s aerial prowess, particularly when there were so many opporutnities to do so. He held up play well for the Gunners and deserved some reward from his team-mates for doing so I feel.
In any case, after this match it is fair to say that Arsenal have a strong team that is capable of great things this season. Another tough test comes next week as the Gunners face Chelsea at home. Hopefully they are able to replicate their first-half performance from today and record a win!
on the performance…
I am pleased because [a point] was the minimum we deserved today. I am pleased also with the quality of our performance and our spirit. Also a bit frustrated because I feel there was room to do more. We had early chances and very late chances, especially Gervinho at the edge of the box where he missed the target. But overall I hope this will reinforce our belief and confidence and reassure us about our potential in this league.
on Vermaelen’s absence…
He had ‘flu yesterday, and we left him at home. But Laurent Koscielny had a great game and stepped in very well. We have three classy centre backs, and it is a very difficult choice. Koscielny, Mertesacker and Vermaelen – no matter who is left out can feel it is not right. But I will rotate them and take into consideration the strikers we will face.
on conceding from a set piece…
I take this criticism on board because we conceded the goal from a corner, but Man City are the team who score more goals than anyone else from set pieces. On the other hand it is true we missed chances, but when you have the basic quality that we showed today, the rest can improve.
on Mannone’s late save…
He had a good game again today. He looks very solid. He made a little mistaken the corner [for Manchester City's goal] and was very frustrated with it, but overall I am happy that it didn’t affect his game after. I like what he is doing.
Jenkinson Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs
Arteta (c) Diaby
Ramsey Cazorla Podolski
Vito Mannone | 6.5: The Italian will be disappointed with the mistake he made which led to Lescott’s goal, but came back well in the second half denying Dzeko with a fingertip save and also stopping Kompany’s superb overhead effort.
Carl Jenkinson | 8.0: Today I thought Jenkinson came of age. It was a super individual performance that demanded great defence, good technical ability and speed on attack. He did all to great effect.
Per Mertesacker | 7.5: The German had an excellent match today, using his positional awareness to compensate for his lack of mobility making a number of vital interceptions. As always he also used his height to deal with anything in the air.
Laurent Koscielny | 7.5: The return of Koscielny was marked with a great performance. Although the Frenchman was lucky not to concede a penalty, overall his defending was solid and of course did his bit at the other end of the pitch, scoring Arsenal’s late equaliser.
Kieran Gibbs | 7.0: A mature performance from the young Englishman who wasn’t afraid to help out on offence. A decent shift from the young left-back.
Mikel Arteta | 7.0: His distribution from deep in midfield was superb today. Was always on hand to receive the ball from deep and recycle it with his trademark precision. Some of his interplay with Cazorla was something to behold.
Abou Diaby | 5.0: Never really got into the game and although a majority of the time distributed tidily, there were times that the Frencham unnecessarily dwelled on the ball and lost possession in dangerous areas. (71′)
Santi Cazorla | 7.5: The Spaniard again found himself pulling a lot of the strings in midfield. His interplay with Arteta in the first-half was pin-point and also showed his excellent vision on a number of occasions. Wasn’t afraid to pull the trigger from range and was almost rewarded after his swerving shot required a smart save from Hart.
Aaron Ramsey | 7.0: A somewhat interesting decision to start him on the right, but one that paid dividends when he drifted inside to help in midfield. Distribution was tidy and also produced a great through ball to Grevinho, which the Ivorian wasted with a poor first-touch.
Lukas Podolski | 6.5: A hard-working performance , but one that didn’t yield much reward in terms of goal-scoring opportunities. Had one good chance after a good cut-back from Jenkinson, but blasted the ball well over the goal with his weaker right-foot. (71′)
Gervinho | 4.0: A frustrating performance from the Ivorian who was a lively figure up front. Got into great goal-scoring positions but lacked composure when he needed it, ruining his first good opportunity with a poor first-touch and balsting his second chance well off target from the top of the 18-yard box. (90′)
- No Notable substitutions
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