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I’ve been planning to do a review the Christmas and New Year’s fixtures as a whole instead of individual matches. Not only because the schedule made the set of matches interdependent but because I’m a wee bit lazy and was otherwise occupied over the festive season. However I will postpone that post for another day and look at last night’s game against Manchester City as it was a clash of cultures, finances, and heads.
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I’m not entirely sure that Manchester City came to play for a draw, what I am sure of is that they came to the Emirates in the knowledge that they are in fact inferior to The Arsenal and whatever happens the goal is not to lose. We can bemoan their tactics all we want, the reality is that they got what they came for will we go away two points worse off that we would have liked.
I have not gone all pessimistic and gloomy, it’s just that I don’t understand why City is getting so much flak for their approach to the game. As their boss admitted the superiority of Arsenal when he said:
“It is not important. I prefer to think about the point. When you play Arsenal and if Arsenal play better than you, then you must defend. This is football. Not every team can play like Arsenal.”
Our job was to break down their defence and get the goal we needed, and break them down we did, time and time again. Unfortunately we could not the the ball in the back of the net, even when we managed to beat their goalkeeper.
This was not a case of we not doing enough, or not playing well enough. Citeh was battered, they came under wave after wave of attacks. Punch drunk they somehow survived the early onslaught, went into ultra defensive mode, rode their luck and somehow ended up with a point. Though we didn’t get the win, no one can say that we didn’t deserve it.
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There was nothing wrong with our tactics, nor was there a problem with attitude, it was just one of those nights where a dynamic attack came up against an obdurate defence and could not breakthrough.
The entire team was on song, the passing was sharp, the movement was clever, the cohesiveness was ,erm cohesive? On the odd occasion, and by odd occasion I mean the three times, that City made a foray into our half the defence was up to the task.
Alex Song should be lauded for his performance. He had another game that shows just how good he really is. Calm and assured in defence smart and fleet in attack, if only he trusted his left foot enough to take that shot at the end of a silky run through City’s defence.
Another player who came out with reputation enhanced is Wilshere, knew that he was tenacious, we knew he has the skill and talent, we now know that despite is diminutive stature he has the strength and will to go up against the biggest and meanest of opponents. He has grown up, still only a teenager but plays a long way beyond his years.
Had we taken one of those early chances it would have been a lot different game, in the end frustrations boiled over and Sagna and Zabaleta got sent for a stag dance as the game drew to a conclusion.
It was a compelling battle between an obdurate defence and a potent offence, a clash of ideology, one playing to win versus another playing not to lose, a confrontation between lavish spending and frugal economics which ended in draw on the scoreboard, but we all know who was the real winner.