Arsenal Unable To Prosper As Sagna Loses It

Arsenal 0 – 0 Manchester City

It has been six months since the last goalless draw at The Emirates. The opponents on that late April afternoon were Manchester City. Arsenal must be wondering what they had to do to score last night, denied by the woodwork on several occasions and the hard work of Joe Hart, ensuring that his place as England’s goalkeeper is unlikely to be challenged.

Arsenal began the match at frenetic pace, their celeripedean attacks unsettling the visitors, forcing their opponents to cede possession carelessly. That the threatened early breakthrough never materialised will mystify Arsenal to the ends of time.

Nasri set the ball rolling initially. The Frenchman found Jack Wilshere in space in the box, the youngster’s cross narrowly beating the outstretched foot of Robin van Persie. Walcott showed good composure in retrieving the ball but Kolo Toure interceded. Should Wilshere have shot? With hindsight it is easy to say and there are no guarantees as to what the outcome would have been.

Wilshere and Nasri were pivotal in Arsenal’s early chances. Following a Milner counter, Wilshere tested Hart from distance before van Persie struck the foot of the post before ten minutes had passed. Nasri and Walcott created panic in the visitors defence shortly afterwards, Wilshere’s goalbound effort stopped on the line by Hart.

Arsenal’s dominance continued unabated. Walcott shot narrowly wide before Fabregas hammered the post once more, Hart completely beaten before Theo Walcott hit the opposite post from the rebound, this time the England international’s blushes were spared as the Assistant’s flag signalled he was offside.

Half time came with the scores still level. The tempo of the first half could not be maintained, the fixtures over Christmas and New Year inevitably causing tiredness to creep in.

Still Arsenal knocked on the City door. Whereas in the first half, the woodwork had been their saviour, Joe Hart would be the rock which rolled backwards in Arsenal’s Sisyphean endeavours.

Having shot into the sidenetting early in the half, van Persie struck once more from distance. Hart stretched to his right, turning the twenty five yard drive around the post. The Dutchman’s late freekick was blocked comfortably by Hart as time ran down.

It was the last real opportunity. Half chances came and went but City’s defensive style was too much to breach on this occasion. Arshavin and Bendtner were introduced to no avail but it was a night where the robotic nature of City’s play won through.

For that, City showed great professionalism. They rode their luck but each player knew what their role in the side was. They defended in numbers, not always convincingly, but once the first twenty minutes had passed, rarely were defenders exposed without any support from others.

Whilst it is not a style that Arsenal employs nor in the modern English game a style which will bring them titles, they are second and difficult to break down. The timewasting aspect, feigning serious injuries when none exists will catch up with them. Robert Pires found that decisions went against following a media campaign to label him a diver. In excess of five minutes injury time was played last night; when they go to Old Trafford, they can expect double that.

The final action of the game was an unsavoury incident. Quite what provoked the headbutting from the normally placid Bacary Sagna is unclear; the foul by Zabaleta would have been punished and an opportunity to create more pressure. Instead the Frenchman lost his cool and butted the City player twice. Was it a build-up from the weekend? Did Sagna believe he was being targetted. Whatever the case, the reaction was unacceptable for an Arsenal player.

Both were dismissed, Zabaleta presumably because he did not back down when the first butt went in, making it appear as though he was responding to the antagonism. It means that Sagna misses the next three games – two of which he probably would have anyway – with his suspension ending once the final whistle has been blown at Upton Park.

A disappointing result on the night but taking four points from the second placed team is a marked improvement on recent seasons. Whilst United have a little daylight for now, there is too much time left in this season for it to be definitive. If anyone believes otherwise, they simply have to look at Chelsea’s capitulation this season.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on January 6, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 178 Comments.

  1. Shitty they are.

  2. Good on Sagna. If a few more of them were like that we’d have won something.

  3. Very fair summary Yogi.

    The Mancs were a disgrace to football. While we hear time and time again that the likes of Stoke have no choice but to play the way they do, a lie of course, what excuse does the ‘richest club in the worls have’?

    I saw Mancine after the opening assault threated a massacre signal to his players to slow it down. I could swear they started timewasting them. It said it all really that after the sending offs he took off his striker for another defender. Bloody awful way to approach the game.

    I got very sick of Sky telling me that it wasn’t City’s job to entertain us. Really? I thought football was a spectator sport. Piss poor.

    Still, we are getting better with every match at the moment. Can’t fault any aspect of our approach last night or our application. First class.

    Ye,s Sagna was stupid.

  4. When Bowyer scraped Sagna, he is labelled a thug and the gooners lobbyed the FA to ensure he got a ban and therafter he is ridiculed by the Cockney Rags….now Sagna goes on a headbutting spree like a drunken Arsenal fan on derby day and where’s the outcry? – Not a whimper…..What goes around……..

  5. Fair and balanced as ever. There’s no need for hysterics, really. Yes, we lost a little ground on United, but equally they have the toughest part of their season still to come: top 5 match-ups against Chelsea home and away, us at the Emirates, City and Spurs. We just have United at home and Spurs away. I’d rather be in their position right now, of course, but we are by no means out of it – compare now to where we were at this point in 1998 …

  6. City will come a cropper there is no doubt about that but listening to all the so called pundits apprently it is our fault that City played such rubbish football. Because of our brilliant swashbuckling football we had them on the back foot and the poor sods couldn’t do anything else but ride their luck! If we hadn’t really played such good football and given them a chance they would have tried to get more than one shot on target.

  7. Arsenal were–bar scoring–imperious last night. Was it because Citeh were ultra defensive? Maybe. If this is the ‘normal’ team form and the First Eleven lineup, then the league had better watch out.Great team performance and the most impressive side of it being the way we curtailed the few Citeh counterattacks while at the same time pressing them high up the pitch in their own half– a weakness which cost us the West Brom and Tottenham games earlier this season and the losses against Man United home games in the last 2 seasons. I’ll take 4 points from a title rival any day.Hope lessons were learnt and the second string will step up and do the business in the FA and Carling Cups against Leeds and Ipswich.

  8. No self respecting ‘top four’ team sets it’s stall out in the way citeh did last night. Poor entertainment. Still it should be taken as a compliment.

    I also agree Sagna was stupid but as someone mentioned above, great to see such drive and commitment.

  9. Sagna is not like that.Yesterday’s reaction was unusual from him. He normally is very collected and doesnt react to whatver antagonism that comes his way.

    Duke city the shitty club!! We may have lost two points in that game but we did play some wonderful football.Here is two hoping for more of the same and obviously the points to ice it!!

  10. The outcry Bluenosesol is that your team played like the footballing equivalent of Audley Harrison, albeit a slightly stronger one.

  11. Hart was timewasting from the moment he laid hands on the ball in the first few minutes all the way through to the very last. He went on holiday each time he picked up the ball; read a book, full body tan – the lot. Orders from above. Dull fucks. He must have had about twenty little holidays. Cheats. Referees fault though – again. He waved his hands about every time – but actual action? Course not. Should’ve booked him half way through the first half for that, that would’ve hurried him up, and we might have seen a bit more football for our money. Instead we got 4 minutes added time despite James Milner taking at least half that to line down and have a rest for no worldly reason at all. Scumbags.

    …Great stop to deny Van Persie though, I must say.

  12. I agree with consols.

    Fucking disgraceful way to play in what could have been one of the most entertaining matches of the year. After the first couple of minutes I thought it was going to be end-to-end, but alas, they proceded to put on the most defensive display I’ve ever seen in a top 3 clash.

    Imagine what Tevez must feel playing in a team like that. He was probably watching our play wishing he was playing in red and white.

  13. 4 points off the £400 million catenaccio apologists ain’t a bad haul. And the performance, as ZimPaul said on the last thread, was inspirational.

  14. els – you’re right, they paid us a massive compliment last night. Mancini said something along the lines of ‘if you can’t win, the aim is not to lose’.

    Shows how much we’ve come on this season if the richest club in the world have admitted that they can’t beat us before the match has even started…

  15. Boring, boring City. That’ll do me fine so long as we walk away with a point.
    By the way, Mancini has had a year of turmoil to build a team, Wenger has had nearly fifteen years.

    Let’s see how long it takes before we break our 35 year duck and win at Arsenal.

    Having said all that, I think you can go on and win the Premiership with this team.

  16. Why were they kissing?

  17. Who? Louis Saha and Seamus Coleman?

  18. A year of ‘turmoil’ and a never ending supply of money, with no regard to long term financial implications whatsoever. That’s the difference you mug. See where you are when you do a Chelsea in a few years time. How are you expecting to sell any of these overrated, overpriced retards that want to leave? Do you expect them to take a £100,000 per week wage cut? Thing are becoming seriously fucked up for City off the field, and that will only start to reflect on the field in the not too distant future..

  19. Their approach was pathetic but you have to admire their defending in the 2nd half.

    if we’d scored first half we’d have creamed them.

  20. As a City fan, have to admit we were very poor last night – we never got going. But rather than getting all hot and bothered about it, take it as a compliment, Mancini quickly realized that after the bookings for Barry and De Jong meant we were effectively unable to tackle, a draw became a great result and so we played for it. You cannot knock Mancini for it, he got a point at Arsenal….he also has ag great away record this season, 21 points from 11 away matches, making City and Arsenal comfortably the best two ‘away’ sides in the league – so call it boring if you wish, but for a guy who either finishes in the top 4 or gets the boot, its a vital point and also a vital 2 points taken from your club, a top 4 rival. Add to that lot the fact that we were without our creative threat which is David Silva and Super Mario, and actually in the cold light of day, it is a great point for City. For us we have to get into the top 4 this season, its a must, as otherwise we are screwed with the fair play rule, i.e. we need CL to increase our revenue stream….the nice football will follow in seasons to come, but we are where we are, and for now results have to come first, without them we are stuffed, as would be Mancini. Having said all of that, I’ve nothing but admiration for Wenger and Arsenal, great club, great support, brilliantly run and play awesome football; I hope either City or Arsenal can pass United and stop them from winning the title again.

  21. you lot could have played for another 2 hours, but if you cant put the ball in the net against us, you wont win.

  22. Why do you care. Stop being pervy.

  23. that was for James

  24. Parking the bus.Something we would never do would we.Just take a look at the DVD of the last trophy we won. The 2005 fa cup final.We hardly crossed the halfway line.Who was complaining when we won? No one thats who

  25. What is the bloody point in bring on a 6ft 5ins forward and playing him on the left wing?

  26. I’ve never seen a team not bothering with the attacking side of things like that Andy. We always went for goals, no matter how defensive we played, our counter attacking was up there with the best of all time back then.

  27. Ive never udnerstood why teams that are confident of winning at home play for draws away. Why is playing away so scary? Because you have thousands of people booing you? Because the home team is more attacking – that should be an advantage for an away team with speedy forwards?

    I find playing for a draw away from home an excuse – top players should be able to deliver whatever pitch they play on.

  28. Some of you Arse fans suck!! the language is like your club “disgusting” if you had not noticed but we where missing Silva who has been our creative player over the last few games and why was Zaba sent off?
    Quite what provoked the headbutting from the normally placid Bacary Sagna is unclear; the foul by Zabaleta would have been punished (why?) and an opportunity to create more pressure. Instead the Frenchman lost his cool and butted the City player twice.
    Zabaleta presumably because he did not back down when the first butt went in, making it appear as though he was responding to the antagonism. (what a joke this is) the referee could not handle the pressure so sent both off in my opinion and we could have won from there like you did at ours?.
    It has been six months since the last goalless draw at The Emirates. The opponents on that late April afternoon were Manchester City.
    The air is much fresher above the Arse!
    2 Man City 22 17 42
    3 Arsenal 21 20 40

  29. PJ- Did man city not beat us twice last year? Yeah, of course you’ll take a point. I would too if i was mancity. From our point of view a little dissapointing cos we were fab.

    But how long do you think the fan base would last if you kept playing like that. You know im right. Im soo sick of the english media promoting mediocrity. I have no problem with teams playing to their strengths after all not everyone is the same. but these useless pundits are so ghetto. its the only word I have for them.

    We can win in this form. Onwards and upwards. All the boys can do is try their best.

  30. I don’t understand we we can’t understand City’s approach. Even though they’ve spent loads, they know that we are better (already lost 3-1 at home to us).

    That’s what teams do when they realize that they’ll get mauled if the bus isn’t parked. It does not matter that the bus is worth £300m, that’s for their own fans to worry about.

    £300m and admitting we are the superior team, that is some compliment.

  31. Rick, the only reason Arsenal have a better away record is because home teams can’t really get away with what City did last night.

    I’d rather lose the title playing Arsene’s way than win it playing Mancini’s. Some might disagree but a piece of silverware won’t make watching crap football all season acceptable to me.

  32. Very unlucky not to win last night despite the ultra-defensive display from City. No shots on target for them says it all. Before Tevez was taken off he was shooting daggers at his teammates every time they smacked another ball in his vague vicinity. Maybe he had just run out of steam, but it looked to me like he was thinking “I can’t do it all on my own!” I’ll be very surprised if we see him in a City shirt next year.

    Overall an excellent performance just missing a goal or two to cap it. I thought Song was excellent, very disciplined and thought about when to get forward although understandably he pushed on a bit near the end in search of a winner. Fabregas looks to be getting back some form and didn’t seem worried about his hamstring. Clichy has come back into a bit of form as well, I thought he was excellent in the last couple of games, but it does help him to have Nasri in front of him rather than Arshavin. The centre-halves have cemented their places until Vermaelen returns, Squllaci will be a cup player from here on in. Same for Arshavin, Walcott was much more effective during his time on the field.

  33. “I’d rather lose the title playing Arsene’s way than win it playing Mancini’s.”

    I agree 100% Markus. I’d happily be 2nd or 3rd for ever if it meant watching our team play the slick, technically superb football that we’ve been privvy since Wenger’s arrival. May be a bit crazy, but that’s where i stand. I’d be embarrassed to be a City fan watching that.

  34. Gaz, please come back at the end of the season with that.

    To be fair. I was really worried about mancity i expected alot especially with all the lippy and rude(money always ruins people) city fans telling us how fantastic they are. I feel alot better about this title race now.

  35. I would be a little ashamed too if we played like that but i guess i’d take if we won.

  36. Wengerball, no-one’s saying they don’t understand their approach. It’s pretty obvious they were going to do it. But not to put any emphasis on attack whatsoever?? Spineless.

  37. Gaz

    You really are a foppotee.


  38. rick,

    is balotelli that important to you already? I know that Silva, who is a wonderful player, is vital for you going forward but I thought Balotelli had missed as many as he’d played. Surely he can’t be as important as Tevez or even Yaya?

    I thought it was a shame that you showed so little attacking intent but given that Mancini set up the side in the same way last season it seems to be a tactic he’s settled on. I’d suspect that the only way that the owners will put up with very negative football is if it brings big success though. Any thoughts?

  39. Well on a sensible and idiotic spectrum of blue manc opinion rick is at one end, in that he actually watched the game and has a brain, and gaz is at the other. The americanism ‘suck’ as an insult sums him up.

    I don’t mind seeing fans from other lubs on occasion if they bring something positive to the debate but that’s three mancs today. I wonder why?

    The way City are behaving, as a club and as a team, raises the spectre of the end of football as a mass sport.

    Spoilt, rich and vapid.

  40. I don’t think that the Citeh performance can be labelled ‘parking the bus’. As a defensive performance it was quite poor. What in fact happened is they were caught in the headlights and were dazzled by Arsenal’s technique and energy level. They looked completely outclassed in every department. Far from ‘parking the bus’ they were on the ropes for most of the game. In the end they rode their luck and on any other day would have lost 4-0.

    As for those who gave Kolo MotM, the two Arsenal centre-halfs looked much much better.

    I agree with though, RvP was MotM, he had their central defenders pinned down for the whole game and still had time to support our defence. He is looking more like his old self every game.


  41. Good summary as always.

    One reason Sagna was so frustrated was that I think a throw rather than a foul had immediately been given – and it surely was one of the clearest fouls in the game.

    Song, Wilshere, Djourou were all outstanding – a shame about Arshavin who looked out of his depth.

    Most amusing moment was when Hart caught a ball near the end and immediately went down as if injured, before realising that the Arsenal player (van P?) hadnt come close enough for him to get away with it and jumped to his feet again

  42. Just realized that if manu were to win the prem this year undefeated they’ll be smashing/matching two records, Liverpool’s 18 titles and our invincible season. With Fergies usual ‘luck’, this is not an implausible scenario, even with their average squad and mostly crap football.
    IT MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN. I couldn’t stand all the worshiping Fergie would get if that happens. Someone should beat those motherfuckers soon!

  43. Perhaps Sagnas cool got blown cause last week he got trod on, then his Achilles got raked and while the challenge wasn’t that serious it was late and after the ball had gone and Sagna finds himself bundled unnecessarily over the sideline, a third foul without the sound of a foul being blown?? Dumb thing to do after his composure was talked up all week – but there you go!!

  44. Geo
    Why don’t you calm down mate. You’d be embarrassed to be a City fan? We’d be embarrassed to have you.

    What you don’t seem to understand is that City are on a journey, and are only just touching first base.

    If in five years time we come to the Emirates and are forced on the back foot like last night, then you might have a point. Of course it’s true that we have spent a fortune, but pointing that out without an iota of critical analysis about the way in which a football team is built in the long-term displays a lack of knowledge about the game.

    Carry on being parrots aping the worst excesses of the Sun and you will learn nothing. At least City fans on here give Arsenal credit for the football they are playing at the moment.

    And I thought your club was supposed to the home of football intellectualism.

  45. ‘What you don’t seem to understand is that City are on a journey, and are only just touching first base.’


  46. gib – yep i’d say that Silva is the more important of the two right now, he is our most gifted played and at the moment he makes us tick. I’d go as far as to say he’s the best player i’ve ever seen in a blue shirt in my 37 years of watching us win nothing. Mario has only played half of the games as you rightly say, but that’s down to an early season injury, and he is very important for City – his goals to starts ratio for a 19 year old kid, who is in his first season in the prem is staggering and assuming he doesn’t get certified, he should become a top player…but he’s not there yet, thinks he is but he’s not. It was a shame we showed such littel attacking intent, i agree, but as i say, when De Jong followed Barry into the book, it became clear we couldn’t afford to put tackles into midfield which when then coupled with the lack of creativity provided by Silva and the lack of pace, strength and goal-threat provided by Mario (I mean we started with Jo ffs – i’d rather have Joe Mangle or Joe Cocker than him) it really did then become apparent that we had to not lose the game, if we nicked a goal then great but don’t concede and you cannot lose, something Arsenal have done very well in previous times. Normally away from home we defend well but we hit superbly on the break – highlighted by a plus ten goal difference in our 11 away matches to date, but lasy night we had a bad day at the office, we never got going, we missed Silva and Mario, we were unable to put the tackles in due to ealry cards, we had a player wrongly sent off BUT we got a point, so as far as bad days go, and we have had lots of those, we have had far worse than nicking a point against a very good side!

  47. Second base more like it. Your defenders were very gropey last night, granted.

  48. Chelsea have been doing it for years against Arsenal. Nothing new, nothing sexy.

    Its merely credit to the dominance Arsenal have over the rest of the top 4.

    Good show.

  49. Hahahahaha Pj! Nice one.

    Arsenal haven’t been on a journey of transition at all have we? Moving stadium, having a generation of top world class champions becoming aged, and injury prone, moving on, having severe injuries to many of our best players for huge parts of seasons, all the while managing to be in the top 4 consistently for the whole duration, in the champions league every year, spending an absolute pittance in comparison, playing some of the best football in the world, identifying and nurturing some of the best young talent in the world, at the same time reducing our debts immensely…. need i go on?

    Oh, I forgot, weren’t you all completely writing Arsenal off at the start of the season, saying we’d struggle to stay in the top 5???

    Arsenal are only just ‘touching first base’ (if we’re talking fucking baseball) too, with all our players not even at their physical and mental peak… Come back in 5 years and we’ll see how money can’t beat Arsenal’s way.

    Football is evolving worldwide because of teams like Arsenal, it’s becoming distorted, unfair and ruined by clubs like City.

    The reason city fans are on here giving us credit is because we played adventurous football throughout, and will continue to do so, against every team. We aren’t giving city credit because they played completely lacking ambition, completely lacking entertainment, completely lacking any balls…. but credit to you I suppose.

    Where’s your critical analysis by the way? Sorry, I know I have complete lack of understanding of the game, but please indulge my poor little brain with an aptly in depth, critical response.

    Cheers darling.

  50. Dejong, Yaya, Kompany and Barry in midfield says it all. These are not creative players they are defenders playing in midfield. so we have had eight defenders in front of goal backed up by a very good goalie. It was always going to be a tough task but still they rode their luck on another night any of those shots would have gone in or the penalty is given. They will win the title with that type of football and nor united. At the moment we are the only team who playing like champions, I do not care about the crap that comes from pundits about United getting better in the second half of the season, it will no happen this season in the past they had some very good players who did that for them this season is not different than last season. Everyone thought Chelsea will run away with it look what happend to them. All we have to do is play like we did the last 2 games and the title should be ours

  51. @ Big Johan,

    Is the “Arshavin out of his depth” comment a crack at his height? 😉

  52. correction ” They will not win the title with that type of football “

  53. I was a bit disappointed When Arshavin did not get a good reception. I know he hasn’t played well but he comes up with some specials from time to time, I thought that was poor support from the fans.

  54. I wasn’t surprised that City played this way, they did the same thing last year, when Arsenal were in a terrible run of form having just lost to Wigan. I’m a bit surprised that City fans are so happy with it. If they’d won last years match they’d have had a better chance of finishing fourth and getting in the CL. Will they still be so happy if they finish runners up, a point behind Utd? Also to say it was because Silva was injured, isn’t much of an excuse. They’ve spent hundreds of millions on players, maybe they should have added more than one creative player.
    Finally,congratulations on celeripedean and Sisyphean in the same report. Did you get a thesaurus for Christmas?

  55. rick. totally agree with everything you said, sometimes you just have to grind a result out.In recent years, how many of the top four have not had a great game but still got a result,its how titles are won

  56. Block4
    He does look at the moment as though he is treading water – or running in treacle – compared the the way Walcott moves…

  57. 1NilToTheArsenal

    Arsenal – The Biggest Tease in Football

    They thrill us, they excite us, the bring us to the brink so very often without release.
    Another peerless display of technique and skill all over the pitch, another frustrating outing.
    Not the stuff of champions I hate to say. We now have to hope to stay in form AND that Man U, Man C and The Ones Who Shall Not Be Named all stumble before season’s end.

  58. We knew what to expect b4 the match started……City are who they are and their manager implements the style of play he see’s as successful.

    This was a big match playing against an experienced City squad (built to be physically challenging). Arsenal needed to field an experienced team to taste any success (3 points). So when you start a 19 yr old and a 21 yr old (who has not really played much in the past 2 seasons) our manager is taking a big risk for their contribution. Neither made any big plays and consequently our draw.

    As far as Jack is concerned, to be at the 6 yd box with no one challenging you (only the keeper on his line) and you can’t pull the trigger – his resulting decision was that of a 19 yr old – INDECISION. Later in this season he’ll take his chance. Next year he’ll score every time. Ramsey, Rosicky, and Denilson ALL would have produced a different result.

    There were parts of vP’s game that showed me he was regaining his touch. But at this stage in his return this season, his biggest enemy is his lack of fitness. I personally would have started Chamakh. We needed more of a physical presence up front – someone to keep their CB’s preoccupied, that was not vP. Based on vP’s play to date, he’s likely to contribute more out on the wing – like the Dutch play him.

    Fabianski had nothing to do but collect another clean sheet – A TRIBUTE TO THE TERRIFIC PERFORMANCE OF: Song, Kos, DJ, Sagna, and Clichy. Those five deserved MOTM honors.

  59. Geo darling,

    Of course Arsenal HAVE BEEN on a journey of transition. The fact that you put those words in the past tense pretty much proves my point.

    You had five years at the top, with a team built on strong defence. Then five years without a trophy while building this present team, based on what I accept is great football.

    I for one think you can win the Premier League this year. I would rather you win it a thousand times than United win it once. Er, and I can’t remember any City fans writing Arsenal off at the beginning of the season.

    Anyway as I said, City are embarking on a journey of transition. So to attempt to counter that statement by going on about something you have already done seems to miss the point.

    Regarding an in-depth critical response, maybe some other time – today is a busy day up here in the provinces.

    Suffice it to say, in terms of football inflation, City have actually spent the minimum necessary to close the gap between themselves and the top teams, who have had £500m each of Champions League money over the past decade. And that £500m that is worth a lot more in today’s money.

    Consider this: United bought Gary Pallister for £2.5m in 1989 when the club was valued at £20m. That is the equivalent of a £100m+ purchase for a centre-half.

    Arsenal were themselves spending hand over fist in the late 1990s and the early years of this decade.

    Maybe we will fail. We aren’t so arrogant as to assume anything is our divine right. If only the same could be said of United and, by the evidence I’ve seen on this site today, Arsenal.

  60. rick,

    Cheers for the reply.

    I couldn’t agree more about Silva, I’ve found it odd that he hasn’t been mentioned amongst all the praise that Nasri, Bale and Nani have been getting. He took a couple of matches to find his feet but looks to have adapted brilliantly now. I’m not going to pretend I was anything less than delighted when I saw he was injured for the match.

    Balotelli’s a pretty interesting one. He’s had a remarkable life and clearly isn’t afraid of speaking his mind, I suspect a therapist or two is either already making a lot of money out of him or will be soon. It’s an odd thing about City, because players like Tevez and Balotelli are very open about their feelings and you have a public footpath running through your training ground, the club is far more open than most in the league. I don’t kid myself that training ground scuffles are unique to your club but the glare of the media and the fact that every session is effectively open to prying eyes mean that yours will always be blown up by the press.

    I don’t have any problem with you shutting up shop against us. I hadn’t thought of the bookings but you’re probably right to point out their importance. It’s a shame that we haven’t seen a true clash between the two sides this season, the sending off at your place changed the game a lot.

    One other question, while you’re here, what do you make of Adam Johnson? Mancini doesn’t seem a fan and, to be honest, I’m with him. He’s talented but tries too much and is a little too direct. A scary player to see in the opposition’s line up but until he gets a little bit more discipline to his game he’ll struggle to scale the heights.

  61. I think Bac’s random outburst is probably spurred by the fact that he’s been taken advantage of. He’s a fantastic player, and always does the job, no questions asked. He’s taken a bit of a beating in recent times, and I think it was just a case of him standing up for himself a bit, in the knowledge that he’d probably not be playing the next 2 games anyway, and the next league game is West Ham.

    Speaking of whom, I think we can spank them 10-0, if Newcastle can win 5-0 against them. Get a good goal difference for the end of the season… not that it will make any difference when we finish the league clear winners 😉

  62. PJ my beauty, thanks for the response, love you.

    If you think Arsenal have finished in our progression, that’s great. Hopefully the rest of the league are thinking the same, but i doubt it. It’s obvious that our team and players are only just nearing the edge of becoming what Wenger saw 5 years ago.

    In another 5 years time we’ll have Nasri at 28-29, Cesc the same (if he stays), Theo the same, Song the same, Koscielny the same, Djourou the same, Wilshere not even at his peak by then, same for Ramsey, Gibbs etc etc etc.

    To say our progression is a thing of the past is way off the mark. It’s scary to think how good this team will become. Even if we only spent say £10mil per season to augment this squad, we’ll be at the summit of English football for years to come. And you can mark my word i didn’t read that in the Sun.

    Arsenal have never, ever, spent anywhere near those amounts (all relative with the inflation and financial changes of course).

  63. Geo My Errant Love

    Once again you haven’t quite taken in what I said.

    I think that if you go over my comments with the fine tooth-comb they deserve, you will notice that I alluded to your ‘journey of transition’ being complete.

    Now, your ‘period of progression’…that’s another story altogether and I wish you the best of luck with it.

    Enough, I have to go and earn some filthy lucre.

    Good luck Gooners. If you finish above United you will have earned my and every other City fan’s undying gratitude.

  64. goonerwife | January 6, 2011 at 12:07 pm |

    Pull you head out your ARSE! (forgive the pun)
    lippy and rude(money always ruins people) city fans telling us how fantastic they are.
    Look at some of the comments above mine mate and see who is rude and lippy!
    sorry for the banter but its not offensive like some, you lot aint happy because you played well and didnt win?, god forbid you playing well and losing or Sagna being sent off and us nicking it at the end with a full compliment of 11?.

  65. My manutd pals are in high heaven. They admit that they’ve been playing badly since the league began but have ridden their luck. They don’t even think that they are winning the league, rather that they aren’t losing it! It’s Mancity, Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea that are losing the league.
    Can’t really complain about the way Mancity played. As I’ve always said they give a specialty in ugly football. Such ugly football helped Mancini win the Scudetto three times in a row. He knows that he is unlikely to win the premiership this year and would probably be satisfied with a top three position which he looks like he’d get. The onus to play pretty and win has always been on us.
    The boys gave their all and yet it wasn’t enough. As an account would we should always assume that Manutd have the three extra points – until they lose. So we’ve got to assume that Manutd are seven (7) points ahead of us – until they lose. So the league’s not lost yet but it’s gotten tougher!

  66. gib – yeah I actually like AJ, he brings more of a threat than some of the others we have, but at the present time I think Mancini is focussed on making the top 4 at all costs and that means AJ is being used more as an impact sub as opposed to a starter – for he creates stuff but he also gives the ball away a lot. But I’d definately stick with AJ and think he’ll become a regular starter for us in the next year or two as his game develops. Oddly though, he’s only the 2nd best Johnson at City in my view, we have this lad called Michael Johnson, who is an academy player, he has had an appalling run of injuries but hopefully we’ll see him back in the side sooner rather than later, he’s a strong box to box midfielder but with a terrific eye for a pass and assuming he regains full fitness, he should be in the middle for City for years to come.
    1 loose cannon – Vinnie Kompany plays and indeed played at Centre Half mate not in midfield, and Yaya has been playing in a very advanced role all season, thought he made a few strong runs last night albeit it wasn’t a good showing from him. From a City perspective VK was out motm in my view, he and Tevez held us together.

  67. Not interested in discussing the merits of their tactics with Man City fans. Take what you get. You won’t win the league or FA Cup this season, but try hard for the Europa League.

    I also think Arsenal fans shouldn’t be surprised to see City’s tactics. Despite all the money spent, they simply don’t have as much quality in their squad. It’s not how much you spend, it’s how much the squad is worth. if we had an auction for Arsenal vs City players, our boys will fetch much more. And then we’ve been together longer and have a style of play that they can’t match.

    A draw was a fantastic result for them. If we were above them on the table, it’d have been a good enough result for us too.

    The fact that we’re a club that tries to win every game is credit to us, a mark of the wonderful footballing culture at this club.

  68. The fact is that City haven’t bought a team. A collection of defenders (some of whom are vastly overrated like Lescott and Bridge) and destroyers in midfield with only one creative player and when he’s injured they’re shafted. One decent forward and with the look on his face before he was taken off last night I don’t think we’ll be seeing him there next season. To say he was fed up with the dross masquerading as “service” would be a huge understatement. Totally f***ing pissed off would be nearer the mark. Whoever is overseeing transfer policy at the club should be sacked forthwith.

  69. I’m so totally loving the PJ and Geo romp!

    I just think Mancini lacks heart. He’s got no taste for the fight, which is something City had under Hughes. Might not like the man, but at least he had City playing positive football at all times and gave one of the best Manc derbies I can remember.

    Andy, I personally hated that FA cup final. I was swearing like a maniac at what I was seeing, but it was brilliant laughing down the phone to some Man U friends of mine.

  70. Does anyone know what Cesc said to Mancini in the conversation they had as they walked off the pitch? The look on Cesc’s face was one of utter disgust, as if City’s tactics were an affront to football (which they were). The look on Mancini’s face appeared to be one of embarrassment. He really had no reply to Cesc. It could be I totally misread it, but I would like to know what was said.

  71. Verminator…..apparently they were arguing about the Sagna incident

  72. verminator:
    cesc; WTF was that?
    mancini; thats how you defend a game son
    cesc; what did you get out of that ?
    mancini; a point and still second in the league.

  73. did Cesc say to him he thought he used to be a good player and played good football????

  74. I don’t think there’s any defending Mancini’s tactics.

  75. rick,

    is michael johnson still considered a big prospect? I know he had that serious injury but I was under the impresssion that he had enjoyed the time off a little too much and was on his way out of the club now. Is your opinion a widely held one?

    I just googled him and one of the suggested searches was for “michael johnson drugs.” I wasn’t trying to imply that above, just that he came back incredibly unfit.

  76. Of the remaining fixtures we look to have the easiest they only have 3 games against top 5 opposition left. It’s possible to go on a 2001/2002 type of run. The last 18 fixtures at that time was even harder than we have now.

    City have 3 including United and Chelsea away but, the must not lose attitude may leave them short in the end.

  77. If the reason for last nights performance from Man City was due to the early bookings what about these:

    Mancini as manager. 3 games v Arsenal, 2 v Mancs and 2 v Spuds. Goals City scored – zero.

  78. they only have 3 games against top 5 opposition left.

    Should read …

    We only have 3 games against top 5 opposition left.

  79. I cocked it up again we have United home and Spurs away left.

    They have United and Chelsea away, Spurs at home left.

  80. Limestonegunner

    Ole @ 1:24 says it best. However, who can resist arguing tactics just a little bit on a football blog, so… What I would say to Rick, PJ and the other ManCity apologists here is that there is some merit to your arguments–you can’t play good attacking football because you don’t have the players despite what you have spent or the mentality from your manager or the club culture to do so–your own apologies show the fans won’t demand more. If you try against the likes of Arsenal you will be slaughtered–that’s evident as your team discovered in the first 15 minutes and then closed down, thankful the score wasn’t 3-0.

    However, the way you played isn’t really that pragmatic. You shut up shop but still gave up many excellent chances and were lucky, very lucky, not to give up a goal–credit to your keeper as well. So it is a gamble that you won but it didn’t really prove to be as effective as you think because you still gave up good chances. If you had tried to actually counterattack a bit more and pose a bit of a threat yourselves in the second half, you would have given yourselves a chance to relieve the pressure. I suppose you would say without Silva and Balotelli, this wasn’t possible. I’ll give you Silva–Balotelli would never have started in this game and you could have used Adebayor instead, who wasn’t even on your bench. It was clear, you never intended to come and play and were burned so badly in the first few minutes that you stopped even really trying to go forward even when you had numbers in your favor. What you and others don’t realize is that shutting up shop didn’t guarantee you your point–a good GK and Arsenal unluckily failing to convert a few (admittedly fewer than the first 15 mins) very good chances which we were still was able to produce.

  81. Markus | January 6, 2011 at 12:01 pm |

    Too right. It’s not only about winning but about the way you win. I was at Cardiff when we won (our most recent) the FA Cup in 2005 and I can truly say that we (the travelling gooners) have never seemed as disappointed about a win as we did on that near silent trek back to the station . It still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    I would take a hundered last nights for ever victory we win in the Citeh way.

  82. We played an excellent game last night on both ends of the pitch. We were unlucky not to score an early goal. Despite the frustration of that game we never lost our composure or organization at the back. In the past we would have figured out a way to concede a soft goal and lost. Hopefully we have matured and in the future we will not concede in games like that. Despite the fact that we lost 2 points we really played “total football” yesterday. Most teams in the league are not good enough to hold us scoreless no matter how many large vehicles they park in front of goal and if we play like yesterday on both ends of the pitch for the rest of the year we will win the league in a cake walk. The unfortunate thing about yesterday is that it makes the 2 goals we conceded at Wigan seem a lot more important. Hopefully the rest of the year will bring more 18 more performances like yesterday and against Chelsea and Brum. Unfortunately with 18 games left we can not afford anymore like Wigan, Spurs or WBA.

    We tore them to shreds early in the game. They knew if they tried to play football with us they would have lost by 3 or 4 goals. Parking the bus was the only chance they had. As long as the game is 0 -0 they always had a chance to win. Most managers would have done the same thing if they were Mancini. Distasteful but still within the rules of football.

  83. As described above, Mancini seemed to make an adjustment, when he got the chance, to switch from TBOF, or whatever exciting line-up he had, to something like a five-five-zero with a little extra kicking for Walcott and Nasri thrown into the mix too. The ‘tempo’ of the time-wasting and comical rolling around increased then (“I’d better have a good look before I roll, yup, there it is, here I go, wa-hey! This is fun…just like at Nursery).

    Good to see El Capitan using some of Eboues’s tricks (eavesdropping).

  84. Limestonegunner

    Talking amongst us and not in response to ManCity fans, I have to say that the result was really disappointing. Of course there is still time in the season and we have a chance to play ManU at home. But we have a difficult path ahead where we really do need to rely not only on performing extremely well ourselves but on others to take points from ManU. They can easily play better or start paying a price for their own lacklustre play, but the longer this goes on that they are unbeaten and keep a nice cushion, the more that experienced squad will draw strength from their position.

    We can do it and if we do play as we did last night, we can take care of business in the league and defeat ManU at home, win the CC and go deep in the FA cup, and give ourselves a great chance versus Barcelona. So it is all still possible, but the margins are tight and the horizons are narrowing. I had hoped that with such a performance we would have made a strong statement and be ready to pounce at the first wobble from ManU to set up our game with them as a decider. Now we will need them to lose points in two games more than us.

    Happily, I give us a good chance to play as we have the last three of four games with our best team. We are healthier now than we have been this season or even in seasons past. RvP is really coming into form (apart from that bad free kick and a couple bad shots) and deserved at least one, maybe two goals. Cesc is back to form and fired up–I don’t think this result harmed our confidence though it would have really boosted it with a victory. The defense, while not having too terribly much to do last night, has been looking more solid especially with Djourou playing so strongly. I think a quality CB or good DM (big burden for Song– don’t want him burned out, but he was MOTM for me) especially if Diaby doesn’t seem to be getting fit, wouldn’t go amiss. But we are ready for this fight, I think.

    Onwards and upwards, Arsenal!

  85. YW,

    I don’t wholly agree about Sagna. I watched it again this morning on TV and heard the typical pundits take on the incident. Yet I believe that the Manc not only fouled Sagna but also immediately rushed towards him in a threatening manner, which included Zabaleta’s pushing his head towards Sagna’s. Given the recent assaults (including that talentless twat, Barry’s offer the ball rugby barge), I think Sagna not only had the right but also needed to stand his ground to make opposing teams aware that he is no one’s doormat.

    Maybe that’s my gooner tinted glasses but either way, I don’t think there was any need for the ref to send the players off: the only point the both managers seemed to agree on post-match.

  86. ‘city were a disgrace to football’ – do me a favour please. They came for a point and got it. Look at it their way – a point away from home to a title rival after being beaten by 3 at their own gaff.

    Fair enough they spend squillions of pounds on players but they are trying to establish themselves in the top4 – so if it takes a performance like that then they will do it.

    The Arsenal did it for years under Graham – get the result you want at all costs – we need 0-0, we get a 0-0. While you might not like it now we loved it then when it was us. 1-0 to The Arsenal/ Boring Boring Arsenal got us what we wanted it a lot of cases.

    We were just unlucky to make their tactics redundant though eh

  87. anon | January 6, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    You do realise we have a game in hand?

  88. Limestonegunner

    Deise, the world has changed. And we didn’t have the obscene amounts to spend. Moreover, as I suggested–ManCity were actually very lucky to escape with a point. They still gave up really good chances when they parked the bus, so they don’t really deserve a lot of credit for their plans. They are relieved and, perhaps, some with any real footballing values feeling a bit sensitive to the criticism of their play and down deep slightly embarrassed that they dared not do more than act like turtles in their shells for 75 minutes.

  89. Only word describes Man City getting a point yesterday- LUCK and one word for Arsenal not getting three points- UNLUCKY. End off!

  90. A gentlemanly assessment Yogi.

    I must say I am less than pleased with City’s tactics but the real reason we drew was their extraordinary amount of luck, or our lack there of.

    That being said I cannot stress how much this Arsenal starting XI excite me. They have played 3 games and have systematically dismantled all 3 of their opponents. Yesterday we did everything but score. We did everything but score with a cherry on top.

    The interchanging in our midfield between Cesc, Nasri and Wilshere takes the breath away at times. Totally unplayable. In whatever combination.

    Song is an enigma. A twinkle toed bull dozer. The central defensive partnership of Koscielny and Djourou is one that inspires me with utmost confidence, a great blend of speed and power. They are looking very assured.

    Walcott has a real aggression about his play nowadays, he is ruthless and his desire to win is clear in his body language. He seems to be coming out of his shell and will strike fear into the hears of any defence if he can retain the form he’s in and build on it.

    And RvP, the dutch master it’s incredible that he must still be at only 85% tops at the moment but still every time he touches the ball he seems to be able to do something special with it. His touch is exquisite, his vision impeccable. For me the single most exciting talent we have at Arsenal.

    As disappointing as the result was yesterday make no mistake, every team in the league who watched that will be soiling themselves at the prospect of playing this starting XI. And if you can keep it going we WILL take this league by storm. This is the first time in an awfully long time this has happened, and to think we still have Vermaelen, Diaby and Ramsey to return to full fitness!

  91. Man poo play the tiny totts next. By the next match day we could be back to within 2 pts of them. They have a tough run of fixtures in January. We have relatively easy fixtures. We just have to make sure we use the squad well and the other squad players step up to the plate.

    We’re still in a good position. Just not, unfortunately, the strongest position.

    Of course, we can’t expect favours from the tines, they being so crap and all.

  92. Limestone @ 2:48:

    100% spot on.

  93. celeripedean?? Where do you come up with such words?!

  94. Keeping a clean sheet to a team who does not attempt to score goals seems somewhat of a hollow victory.

  95. I guess the real suprise here was the involvement of four defensive midfielders rather than five. A Manchester City fan must surely view this as progress.

  96. Lots of catenaccio enthusiasts around here, Bill. You must feel right at home.

  97. 1-0 to the Arsenal didn’t mean absolutely no attempts to shoot or score a goal:

    Alan Smith vs. Parma, a lovely move, a lovely goal, after which, Parma couldn’t score.
    It was a gameplan to win a tournament. A classic format.
    $iteh aren’t going to win the league with that plan. I guess, like Chel$ki’s manager said publicly yesterday, (for both clubs),
    ‘fourth is the target’.

  98. Oh FFS it has started already. Barça wants Nasri:

    Next: Xavi talks about Nasri being Barcelona at heart

  99. Jack Wilshere’s quick feet in tight situations really is something. Completely mugged off Yaya Toure.

    YT: £24 million + £220,00 a week.
    JW: Bus fare from Stevenage + Xbox games and book tokens.

    Thoroughly enjoyable night.


  100. Oh please not the yawnsome Barca link for every Arsenal player. We ain’t selling. Taking serious is like asking Father Christmas to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

  101. Delia---Block 112

    If only one of those early chances had been taken, we would have seen an entirely different game. For me, who enjoys the beautiful game and a contest , it was a long evening. We played some lovely football but our finishing in the early minutes, when City were still unsettled, reminded me of earlier games at the Bridge and I feared we might live to regret those misses. However , City never intended to play. For a team with title aspirations this was a sad reflection on Mancini and his acolytes.
    I feel sorry for the City away fans, the philosophy of playing not to lose is not in our (AFC) or my psyche. Song was my MOTM but not by much as everyone put in a great shift. More of the same Gunners on Saturday.
    As always COYRs.

  102. I feel the target for this season for City is 3rd-4th and the champions league: ie a progression from last season. Not saying they wouldnt take the title but i dont thinks its their main focus. So that point from a top 4 rival is a valuable one for them whereas not quite good enough for us, who are chasing the title.

    They were lucky to get that point but it was job done for them. Im as frustrated as the rest of you but theres also blame, if thats what you call it, to be laid at Arsenals feet for not winning – i know you cant expect to win but lets not blame City for what in essence boils down to our wastefulness in front of goal…

  103. Btw, Ole – noone was suprised in the slightest. We all saw it coming; but when it came, personally, I hadn’t even an inkling it’d be quite that fucking hilarious to see. Can’t even string a fucking pass together. Hundreds of millions of pounds worth of footballers refusing to engage in a game of football… scared to have a go and make a forward pass. What a joke.

  104. ole gunner you do realise you have to win that game in hand our points are on the board

  105. Look at it this way – would you begrudge The Arsenal a 0-0 over the last few years at Man Utd or Chelski if we played like that rather than being totally open to the counter attacks like we were to get beaten??

  106. Theo Walcott looks more and more the complete right-sided midfielder to me. Touch, decision-making – it was near perfect last night. He tracks back dutifully and he’s strong when he gets there. He makes very, very intelligent runs these days – dangerous runs – and he’s not afraid to come right into the middle looking for it to switch things up. Alan Hansen can fuck off.

  107. Limpar:

    “Keeping a clean sheet to a team who does not attempt to score goals seems somewhat of a hollow victory.”

    Agreed, nonetheless still represents progress compared to other games we dominated and lost. Something to be positive about from the standpoint of our defending. We have looked more solid recently other then the Wigan game. Djourou/Kos and Fab look strong and Clichy looks better now that we have reinforced the left side in front of him. Hopefully this not just an illusion. This years version of Red Manc’s clearly weaker then the past. If we can stay solid we will probably overtake them but can not make any mistakes in the next 18 games.

  108. If Arsenal played like that I’d be too bored out of my fucking mind to begrudge anyone.

  109. Look dont get me wrong, id hate to watch that week in week out – and City do play like that quite a lot – but i would still like Arsenal to have the capability to play like that when needed. We are unable to close out a game to either keep 3 points in the bag or to hang onto a point when not got our shooting boots on.

    There is a time for 10 men behind the ball tactics and its something i would love for us to be able to do when needed.

  110. United aren’t weaker. It’s still the same defence, the same defenders. Blackpool, Newcastle and West Brom have encouraged a more attacking stance from the clubs around them and those are the teams who have had a pop at United and found out you can score goals against them. Noone’s fully done the business against them yet but it’s definitely coming.

    Shame some of the clubs further up the league can’t take the same initiative as those who have come up.

  111. Clichy was awesome last night I thought. Much more like the bitey, nippy, athletic left back we know and love. The amount of times he nipped in, in front of the attacker while they were waiting for the ball was great to see, something Kos loves to do too. Risky business, but it gives the attackers a lot to think about if they know a defender’s going to be right up their arse like that. Kos also made some amazingly well timed tackles in and around the box. Djourou was a rock again too. We made their attack look even more blunt than it was, and that’s saying something.

  112. I remember a couple of years ago, being quite worried about the sole presence of Song in the ‘DM’ spot. But now, he’s one of our best players, especially consistency-wise. His ability to use his strength to win the ball, then use his amazingly quick feet to make a yard then knock a lovely ball, is just outstanding. Not sure about the blonde hair/beard combo, but I can let him off I suppose.

  113. Song has cemented his place in our first team no doubt, hes been awesome the last 2 games especially, right back on form. BUT. While Denilson has his merits hes not the player Song is. I wonder can Ramsey be the all action midfielder Song has become? Because it would be nice to have a backup in the same mold, its so important to how we play at our best.

  114. I can live without my football team playing that shit.

  115. To be fair, LimparAssist, one hardly needs quick feet to confuse Yaya. I imagine if Yaya was faced with an on-rushing Tony Adams, Mancini would be shouting, “Remember, Yaya, watch the ball not the feet!”

  116. Lol Pz! did you see Yaya’s comedic haunch position after his one attacking run in the first half?? If I were being paid close to £200,000 per week, I’d at least get fit enought to make a couple of sprints in the first half without doubling over… Maybe that’s just me.

  117. Limpar:

    This United team is clearly weaker at least so far this year. Same defenders have not played as well. United had not given up a 2 goal lead in 10 years before they gave up 2 in stoppage time against Everton, they conceded 2 including a late equalizer to a poor Fulham team, a late equalizer at Brum, EVDS fumbled an easy cross at home to WBA and gave up a late equalizer. That would never have happened in past years. Hopefully it will continue to years end.

  118. Two clean sheets in a row!

  119. I agree UTD are weaker than they have been, as have Chelski but we havent been ready to take advantage of that, as can be seen by our league position. It is starting to look more promising but now we have to rely on UTD dropping quite a few more points than wed like to get us back into the top spot. A long way to go to be sure and i believe they will drop points, its up to us to make it pay.

  120. Bill – Manure have bad starts to almost every season, that’s just how they roll. They start badly and then come back into it in or around xmas, it’s happened like clockwork for a few years now.

  121. The two clean sheets are all the more signficant because we have achieved them whilst playing exciting attacking football.

  122. Same situation across the league, Bill. Mid and lower table teams have smelled blood and smelled points. Same reason West Brom and Newcastle managed to get the better of us on a flat day. Look at Chelsea. Everyone and their nan are having a bit of them these days. Wolves beat them last night. The same team who made 10 changes in fear of United last year. The league is stronger and teams aren’t afraid to have a go at the big boys. I think it’s making for a really exciting season.

  123. Excellent Deano! Twinkle-toed Bulldozer is as good a term for Song as any. He has been truely majestic of late. When he made a charging dribble forward, I was hoping he’d take a long range shot as his feet are quite charmed.

    Watching him is utterly paradoxical. He looks more and more Hulking with every game. A moving wall that cannot be passed and yet when the ball’s at his feet, he feints and mugs the opposition entirely. His calmness unparalleled, not once have I seen him fussed about harrying opposition. He just dribbles around, through, underneath and over them, and it’s not like he does it to be out of order, but simply because it the most efficent route to what he needs to do. I don’t know whether it’s planned or pure instinct, but he’s ridiculously assured on the pitch. You watch him and the mind boggles. He’s so good, it makes me want to write poetry.

  124. Frank @ 4:05:

    Exactly the point, it can be done and the same will be needed for the rest of the year.

    Limpar @ 4:05:

    Your point is well taken and is probably part of the explanation although I suspect it is more about self satisfaction causing a little less energy and less concentration along with some aging in the legs. In Chelsea’s case a total mental shut down on top of aging and lack of depth. They are currently mailing in the season from a beach somewhere in the southern hemisphere.

    Geo @ 4:02:

    I think we all realize that United play have historically played much better in the 2nd half and hope it does not portend a much stronger United going forward. Even when they started poorly in the past they never had the type of screw ups in the back we have seen this year so it gives hope that this year will be different.

  125. That’s true Bill, there has generally been many more slip ups by all the big teams this year… A very strange campaign so far! All in all though, our squad has the energy and capacity to rotate our way through any tough injury times to far greater effect than ever before. I love being an Arsenal supporter.

  126. It’s not that City came to the Emirates looking not to lose or that they parked the bus which irks me. It was the blatant play acting and time wasting that they engaged in which made me lose complete respect for them.

    City used to be a team one could look forward to watching because they played some awesome stuff under Psycho and later Hughes. Now they’re nothing but draw merchants and cowards.

  127. Spot on G69, but surely, the tactics irked you a little, didn’t it?

  128. What you historically minded people don’t realize is that while MU may very well turn on the after burners in the second half of the season, their squad is getting older and older. Ferdinand will not play every game for the rest of the season since his back is shot. I expect to see them have a lot more games like the one against West Brom, especially away from home.

  129. G69 I really dont rate Hughes and I think City’s problems started with him. He spent too much money on too much dross and could not a perfomance from talented players like Robinho and Elano- I still do not understand why City got rid of Elano! Though Mancini is your typical Italian manager he is in my book better than Hughes and he has to deal with all the rubbish left behind by Hughes!

  130. Not really, avaris. You come and try to get the best result for your team. Fair enough. But watching Jo and Milner roll around on the pitch like they’d been sniped, eventhough they weren’t injured, is pretty disgusting. It just shows that greed and this win at all costs mentality should never be part of sport. Hell, if I wanted to watch players going to ground like they’d been shot I’d watch La liga.

  131. I don’t rate Hughes either. I’m just saying they played a much better brand of football back then. If anything I feel they were undone by the uncertainty sorrounding Shinawatra and the manegerial shuffle. But no one can deny that they were a good side to watch. I feel this move toward cynicism brought about by the oilies is a step backward for them.

    I don’t rate Mancini at all. Good player. Extremely good. But as a manager he has nothing upstairs. The only reason why he won three scudetti was because Calciopoli had decimated Serie A and Inter were the only team standing. A manager who buys the likes of Milner, Lescott and Adebayor for such ridiculous sums is not what I call a quality manager.

  132. Gainsbourg69 | January 6, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    “But watching Jo and Milner roll around on the pitch like they’d been sniped, even though they weren’t injured, is pretty disgusting.”
    How can the Citi apologists defend such play acting is beyond me.
    Both players went down so easily I 1st wondered if my eyes were deceiving me. The replays were so damning. I wonder when the FA will do something about such blatant play acting.

  133. well alrighty then!

    I cannot quite understand the logic behind City Supporters saying they HAD to sit back because they didnt have Silva and ya boy Mario. These are two players that are important going forward not defending, so you can still try a thing even if they are not playing. Also you still have Johnson, Tevez and Yaya Toure who I would say hasnt looked too bad going forward.

    If you have most of your first team defence out then I can see why you would want to park the bus because you dont want to leave the second team defenders exposed.

    Its funny, people will say what Arsenal havent achieved but even without many of our best players, we had a go at Barcelona (Nuff respect due) when In a match like this maybe it wouldve made some sense. Most of your defenders out, best DM, Mid and Striker etc.

    Blessings on you all!

  134. G69 @ 4:47:

    Lot of merit to what you say. EVDS is now 40 so there has to be some degradation of skill and reflexes. Hope your right. Gives hope for the rest of this year. They were very good against us but unlike the past I guess they do not have the energy to maintain that type of performance over the longer haul.

    Also agree with what you say at 4:36. Can not blame anyone for trying their best to win a game that they had no way to win without a lot of luck and a very big bus, but the time wasting is rubbish.

  135. Unrelated but here’s an article about Adam Birchall.

    Not sure if that will work. He seems to be settling down. But too little too late. He was unlucky, I for one was well excited about him but he could have done more to help himself (supposedly). Still he seems to be acknowledging most of it.

  136. The disapointing thing with City is the big games with them involved are utter shite under Mancini. We will give them this season as city fans say it is only to get in the top 4 but next year they better put on their bloody gloves and have a go against the big boys.

    and btw did anyone see how shite Upson was v Newcastle? is there a worse defender in the division. and to think Capello thought he could keep out ze Germans. one of Wengers best dicisions to get rid of him.

  137. Excellent from Arsenal! With the same doggedness to win back possession we should have no problems in beating Barca. Song was immense. Fabregas, RVP, Nasri & Walcott had good games. Clichy look betters with Nasri in front of him – as the game progressed he got confident with crossing the ball. I think Sagna’s incident was nothing more than a yellow card since it was not a head butt. A head butt from Sagna would have probably ripped open Zambolata’s head.
    I guess Arsene gambled with NB because of his ability to get late goals. Also he has better a shooting foot than Chamakh and a more than capable of heading the ball.

  138. Should have been 3-0 to us but hey…I’m more impressed by our focus than what Man City did. If Vermaelen, Gibbs & Diaby return in good form & no one gets majorly injured, we will win trophies this year!

    I actually don’t want Vela to go out on loan. I just feel AW should add him to the rotation. He will come good.

    Up next Leeds…rotation, rotation, rotation. Sagna on vacation for 3 games (he needs a break anyway), Koscielny needs to skip a game as well. Djourou’s looking good but AW will probably rest him against Ipswich. Eboue, Squillaci, Clichy should be good for the next 2 games. (I’d buy Samba to cement the defence but AW will probably hold out for Mertsezacker)

    January can be a great month for us…no replays, no draws, all winnable games . Looking forward to it

    Congrats to PFA player-of-the-month Samir..he looks like a world beater out there. The whole team’s looking really good

  139. All the talk about City defending well yesterday.Ok they did.But also with a huge dose of luck.I counted the ball hitting the post atleast thrice.If we play every game the way we did yesterday,we’ll win this title.
    Is Samba really coming to the Arsenal? The rumour mills have been abuzz.

  140. All you idiots who want Wenger replaced take a good hard look at how City played last night. That’s what we’d play like if your wish of a cheque book manager were granted.

  141. Limestonegunner

    Gainsbourg, very good point about how annoying and cowardly the playacting and time-wasting were. This should be something that the media include in their reports about the game–instead they go back to all the cliches about our failures to win the game or break down ManCity in the final third, etc… Honestly, one begins to wonder if they are watching these games very closely. There should be a major outcry not only for tactical conservatism but failure to play the game at all with the time-wasting tactics. Assembling an expensive team, supposedly with CL and title ambitions, that plays/does not play in this manner is actually a huge embarrassment to the Premier League.

  142. Bradys right foot

    There really are some clueless fuckwits masquerading as Arsenal fans but even amongst the twisted freaks that make up the doomers the penny is beginning to drop and apparently Song bashing is to be no more. What a performance last night from the young man and from the team.

    Outside of the result the bigger picture that was painted on the giant emirates canvas last night shows that this young team has arrived the wait is over gooners. The performances against Chelsea, Birmingham and Man City were technically superior to anything the invincibles done, I thgink well win it this year.

  143. BRF, Song was treated like a dog by many an Arsenal “supporter” and now its Denilson and Kos!

    They will never learn and will continue to have to eat their words.

    There is no player in the Arsenal squad that cannot produce some brilliant stuff consistently.

    The football played yesterday is unparralled, this could potentially be the greatest Arsenal team ever.

  144. Gettin a bit carried away there Paul N don’t you think ‘football played yesterday is unparalleled’ – come on fella. Yeah we play superb football and yeah we have great potential in the team but until we win trophies on a regular basis then it wont be the best Arsenal team ever….we all know what Arsenal team that accolade goes to, and right now this Arsenal team has it all to prove.

  145. The broadcaster, for whom I have the greatest disdain, reported Manchester Citeh put on a master class of defensive organization! In his clearly anti- Arsenal mind, the Emirates organization were out-coached, and out-played! This broadcaster could hardly disguise his despise for Arsenal which is unfortunately present in all his broadcasts involving our team. I do not criticize McManaman who I think acquitted himself reasonably well in the broadcast booth.

    I agree with whomever it was who has written today on the blog that this was the most defensive display he has ever witnessed in the Premiership! Everyone has expressed their upset at what potentially could have been a very exciting match. Overall, this was a terrible advertisement for the League.

    The absolute truth of the matter is that there was only one team willing to play football and that was Arsenal. They cannot be self-critical of themselves because there was effort on their part throughout the match. But for a few inches and a very uncooperative goal post this game was over in the first half!

  146. This season in the PL, is what I meant.

    I know they have it to prove and thats why I used the word potentially.

  147. PaulN – i wouldn’t even say it was that this season in the PL. The chelski performance was a better all round performance both football-wise and application-wise – if those are real words 🙂 – Chelski gave it a go going forwards too, which meant we had some defending to do too, which apart from their goal we did quite well – shackling the Drogba and what not.

  148. I can deal with that Deise, well let me say the football that we have played of late, for the most part atleast.

  149. Indeed PaulN, 3 of the last 4 games (Wigan aside) have seen us play top football and show great attitude and effort. Lets hope that the changes we know are coming for the 2 cup games wont cause too much of a disruption and we can build momentum.

  150. I am trying to figure out what Toure means by this. Does it make any sense?

    “Strikers win you matches… Defenders win you titles.”

  151. That’s Ian Darke, Limestone. Next time Arsenal are on ESPN I’m going to go watch the game on my computer in order to listen to the commentary in Spanish or Portuguese. Those commentators focus on tactics and style first and foremost while being well up to date with what’s going on in the league. They may not have the same intimate knowledge of the English game as Maca and Darke do but, then again, Darke’s folkloric flare is nothing but whitewashing was seriously wrong with the English game.

  152. From the reaction to yesterday’s match, I would suggest that the titles defenders win you are not necessarily the ones you would want.

  153. Ian Darke was also talking rubbish about Arsenal players bouncing off of City players even though Arsenal came away with the ball the majority of the time. Makes you wonder.

  154. agreed PZ!

    Its hard to believe that such a silly statement could come from a player who played for Arsenal, who saw the greatness of Henry and Bergkamp.

  155. My first chance comment on the game against City bu having read through the comments and I have to say that some of what I’ve read had me scratching my head… some folks actually appear to believe that what Mancini did was some kind of tactical master stroke … I just can’t agree with that I’m afraid. It is absolutely nonsensical to expect to flourish as a football team if you play as negatively as City did… Mancini got lucky. Let’s not beat about the bush here, there’s nothing tactically astute about having one’s team absorb that much pressure whilst offering absolutely nothing in return… That is not really a tactical ploy .. more like a tactical “Hail mary”!

    IMHO Mancini was lucky that we didn’t score an early goal and he was also lucky with the context in which the match took place. I think that without the three ridiculous home losses, especially the one to Spurs, we’d have had a much more dynamic finish to the game. I think that as the game drew to towards the 90th minute the team as whole got understandably more cautious because a loss to City would been catastrophic given what had gone on before against Newcastle, West Brom and especially Spurs.

    What I take from last night game in no particular order are…
    1. This team is Wenger’s best yet in terms of overall depth and over all quality and there’s more to come IMHO. We may all be about to witness the greatest managerial feat ever in football. We’d get a better idea of just how good this team can be after the Barcelona game but believe it or not fellow gooners we’re on the cusp of something truly remarkable. Wenger may be about to shift football’s basic paradigm…
    2. Money spent without a clear vision, a philosophical foundation even, is money ultimately wasted. Of all the things that Wenger has given our football club the most underestimated and undervalued is the fact that he’s given us a clear vision of not only how to play the game but also how to build our teams. He has given us the kind of joined- up, intelligent vision that makes for REAL success. This is what the clueless, dimwitted and buffonish doomers don’t get… and the value of that vision was laid out yesterday. City’s bankrupt football had no vision except for points at stake in that particular game… so having spent enough to feed sub-Saharan Africa for a year on a football team we saw that shameful display. City are a small club because their vision is small. They can spend 10 billion pounds sterling and they’d remain a small club.
    3. From some of the comments I’ve read here and elsewhere on web I can only conclude that there are some Arsenal fans who have, some how, managed to lumber themselves with the weirdest inferiority complex ever. Arsenal FC have nothing to apologise for… what our team and manager have chosen to do is difficult, requires a serious amount of ability, discipline, character, vision and intelligence. The football we play and the way our club is run is something to puff out the chest and walk tall for, It’s truly something to shout about… there’s no conceivable tactical superiority to be had in being bailed out by the the post and keeper! Screw City and their benighted tactics…

  156. LimparAssist | January 6, 2011 at 3:17 pm |



  157. Well said overall Joshua.

    “From some of the comments I’ve read here and elsewhere on web I can only conclude that there are some Arsenal fans who have, some how, managed to lumber themselves with the weirdest inferiority complex ever. Arsenal FC have nothing to apologise for… what our team and manager have chosen to do is difficult, requires a serious amount of ability, discipline, character, vision and intelligence…”

    Great comment!

  158. Absolutely fantastic work there Joshua. Brilliant comment.

    For a number of years I’ve been waiting for this squad to not only start winning trophies, but to achieve something that will put even the Invincibles achievement in the shade. I dare not say it for fear of jinxing it but it will be truly unprecedented. And it’s coming. I don’t know if it’s going to be this year or the next, but it’s definitely coming! Just a question of when.

  159. Another very good post Joshua.

    For a bit of fun read this and try to pick your 5. (Adult humour)

  160. @ Joshua
    Brilliant. Comment of the day!

  161. To be honest when the CL draw was made I was slightly afraid of Barca. After I have seen what our team is capable of in the last couple of matches, I think we have no reason to be afraid whatsoever. This team, this squad, can do it. They have the ability, they have the technique. I as a gooner I am excited about this team because they seem to be able to do the impossible.

  162. Not sure if anyone has mentioned this yet but at half time RVP walked off the pitch with his arm draped around Kolo’s shoulders, both of them with big smiles on their faces. Do you think that’s cos RVP was thanking Kolo for beating the crap out of Adebore? 🙂

  163. @ Joshua

    I think u captured my thots and quite eloquently too! Well said!

  164. @Irishgray
    Haha, probably.
    But to be honest, I got no problem whatsoever with Kolo. He is a great footballer and I still think that if he had stayed he would have a role to play at Arsenal. Unfortunately though Wenger had to let one of Kolo or Gallas go and with the money City was offering the decision was made easy for him. Obviously, in hindsight it seems like it has been the second best decision, considering how Gallas was injured half the season and then just left but that’s life.

  165. Joshua, the inferiority complex comes from not being able to brag to your mates about trophies. To these supporters there’s nothing else that matters. In fact a lot of them would prefer us to be a City or Chelsea type club.

  166. Excellent post Joshua.

    I have to agree with those praising Theo – I was really impressed with his performance last night. His confidence is evident and his movement was purposeful and direct. He beat his man several times with guile rather than pure pace. He is really coming along nicely.

  167. Brian Kidd
    “Make no mistake about it, that was a very good Arsenal side. But we didn’t capitulate in the face of their initial onslaught” yes only the post saved them 3 times.
    For years I’ve been waiting to see this team playing together and finally we have seen the team we always wanted to see: Fabregas Nasri RVP Clichy Sagna Song Walcott Arshavin and Wilshere. it was almost always 2 or 3 players missing through injuries and now almost all of them fit we can see how good this team is. Djorou is like a new signingn not only he is back from injury but playing even better than before he looks mature and very calm, I’m only hoping for the rturn of Vermalen and then we will have the complete 1st team available add to that we have more quality in Chamakh ,Rosicky, Denilson, bendtner , Eboue , Kolcieny and Cheszney. I’m optimistic about our chances this season we only need them fit that is why Wenger has made a lot of changes between games. we need 2 very good teams to rotate and we are almost conplete in every department. an addition will be a bonus but this squad is very good. Hungrier, older , Stronger and mature.

  168. Joshua has picked up the mantle of rational, intelligent supportive pro-Arsenal commentary in the finest of ACLF traditions. Good work son.

  169. Tennessee Arsenal

    Sagna plays fair. No dives, no theatrics, no malicious tackles. And this season he’s been subjected to more than his share of unfair play, with no protection from the refs (while Birmingham is still fresh on our minds, let’s not forget Ferdinand’s attempt to disembowel him). Yesterday, he stuck up for himself when those that are there to do so failed. He shouldn’t have lost his cool. He’s put pressure on his teammates by doing so. (It reminds me a little bit of another Frenchman, who failed to allow the unwritten rules of sport to be breached and was sent off against a gang of melodramatic cheaters in 2006.) So while we fail to excuse his actions yesterday, let’s acknowledge that it would be hard to find a player from whom such actions would be more understandable. And let’s also acknowledge a series of refereeing failures which contributed mightily to putting a cool-headed and fair player in the position of needing to defend himself.

  170. Well said Tennesse Sooner with an Arsenal flair.

  171. In as much as I wish the young man who proposed to his girlfriend at halftime all the best (she said yes after all) I think I will have to side with the collective wisdom of my fellow Arsenal fans who had remained in their seats and witnessed his proposal. Their response:
    “You don’t know what you’re doing!!
    You don’t know what you’re doing!!”

    COYG 🙂

  172. A Predictable analysis of citys performance in the press…who are mostly creaming themselves about how they dug out a result and played like champions elect apparently and contained and restricted us to weaving pretty patterns whilst firing blanks. The headlines should have read ‘Saved by the bar’. As for us handing the title to United Id love it if we beat those c@nts to every trophy going. Their sense of entitlement and the medias blind adulation of them is nauseating to the extreme.The team is getting stronger and better with each performance.Citeh and United have been warned.

  173. What a star you are, Joshua

  174. joshua | January 6, 2011 at 8:22 pm | ,
    Spot on..

  175. This was a massive victory for City! This must be their greatest achivement all year. I understand why the fans are so happy. Everyone knew they could never win and that a draw would be what one hoped for if one were lucky. This is like winning the FA cup for the city fans. Its just that big.

  176. joshua please ring talk shite and dazzle them with science specially stan doggingmore

  177. There was a time when Citeh used to play attractive attacking football and their fans use to not have to go onto other clubs fan blogs to prove that they are content with their club.. them times are clearly no more.

    Citeh has turned into Chelsea number 2. So what if Chelsea won a few titles, nobody cares and will remember them for spending their way to success playing crap football. Same goes for Citeh. I predicted at the start of the season they will be in the title race, and it still looks that way. I just didn’t realise they would show such a lack in desire to attack or play a decent standard of football with all the money and players they have.

    Outclasses, outplayed, and this is by a club who has been paying off its stadium, bringing through youngsters into its first team, and has purchased nowhere near as much as some teams on players.

    Arsenal fans should be proud to be a part of such a fine club. We are regarded highly all over the glove, best training, best manager, best football.. The trophies will come, but some fans have been so inpatient with their whole 5 year bollox i couldn’t really care. As long as Wenger keeps doing what hes doing, bringing through quality, playing great football, I will continue to support my team with dignity. Fuck the trophies, and fuck the pundits and the Citehs of this world.

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