Guest Post match report today from @The_Gooner_Way
It was a point apiece at the Etihad as Manchester City and Arsenal battled to a closely matched draw that will perhaps see both managers leave contented. After today Arsenal sit in fifth place on nine points, ahead of Manchester City by goal differential.
Arsenal possessed the ball comfortably much of the time, but conceded a goal at the end of the first half to Joleon Lescott’s header. Laurent Koscielny, Arsenal’s centre-back, was the unlikely hero after his unstoppable shot from a corner eight minutes from regulation time tied the game.
There were a lot of pros in this game for Arsenal. Manchester City, current champions, struggled to find their feet in this game. Arsenal dominated both possession and chances.
There were times when Man City were on top, but that is expected at the Etihad Stadium.
Santi Cazorla, Per Mertesacker, Aaron Ramsey and Carl Jenkinson were all immense today and proved their worth.
Jenkinson’s confidence level must be rising every second he has the ball. Last season we saw a boy arguing with Theo Walcott in that painful 8-2 loss. Now we see a boy who has matured and could be, I think, one of the most influential players in Arsenal’s push for the Premier League title.
Cazorla played exceptionally (as usual) and could prove to be one of the greatest Arsenal buys in the last decade. He is confident on the ball, and even in such an important game, he stepped up and played fantastically well.
Mertesacker may have his doubters, and I must admit I wasn’t pleased with his performances last year, but in this campaign he is proving why he was so dominant and feared in the Bundesliga. His greatest strength is his positioning and tackling. He isn’t the best at headers and his speed is God-awful, but when paired with Koscielny, who is fast and strong in the air, he can be an amazing stopper against the opposing team’s play. I lost count of how many times he stopped David Silva’s through balls to Sergio Aguero.
The middle three held their own as well and transitioned the ball from defence to offence in a patient, but effective, manner. Offensively, Arsenal looked good and probably deserved another goal. Gervinho had a few chances, but his touches let him down. Podolski and Cazorla were similar, but when it came down to finishing, they skied. Podolski looked tired after the Champions League fixture.
However, even though Arsenal pretty much outclassed Manchester City, it still leaves us asking if Arsenal can win the Premier League.
I believe no. At least not yet. The simple reason for that is depth.
To win the Premier League, you have to be quick on your feet. If something doesn’t work, you have to be able to adapt. For Barcelona, teams are starting to adopt the park-the-bus method, which means to just stay in your own half and pray.
But they are still usually able to open up the opposing team’s defence because of their quality and depth. They have players who can come off the bench with blistering pace and beat defenders and enough quality players to pass around or shoot from outside the box or play the magical pass.
Arsenal, in my opinion, have a very narrow-minded playing style, and against Manchester City, who have a tight defence, they weren’t able to freely dictate the game in dangerous positions in the centre of the field.
It is true that Arsenal had the ball a lot more in the midfield, but it matters where and who had the ball. Defensive players such as Abou Diaby and Mikel Arteta had the ball in non-offensive spots in the midfield, and even though they were able to get it out wide and forward, they rarely could reach anyone in the pocket between the midfielders and centre-backs.
Arsenal’s front three of Cazorla, Gervinho and Podolski are the only dangerous players offensively. Podolski played today as a lone forward while Gervinho and Cazorla played on the wings. Even though Arsenal were able to get the ball to them, they didn’t have the patience or quality to have the midfielders follow through in the attack. I don’t remember seeing Podolski get the ball from a midfielder and hold it up and wait for them to join him. The only times he got the ball were from out wide.
One can argue that Arsenal have improved, and I don’t disagree with that statement, but the draws have all been very similar to the Manchester City game in which Arsenal dominated, but couldn’t find a result.
In conclusion, for Arsenal to win the Premier League, they’ll need the Bould system to work at the back but also allow key players to get on the ball far more in dangerous situations. If they don’t, then in tight games like these not enough will be created.
But knowing Arsenal I know that we can achieve what has evaded us since 2004.
We are Gooners after all.
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