The results in football matches can be ambiguous as we all know. Today, the scoreline reflects the game very well.
Man City away is the toughest fixture in the league. There has been absolutely no question about that when you look at their record at home this season. Coming into the match, most Arsenal fans would have been pleased to get a draw, some skeptical fans hoping for a win. What surprises me is the tactics that Wenger employed for this match. We all know that City are going to score goals, it’s inevitable. This season, only Hull have conceded less than three goals at the Etihad. Now we also know that Arsenal can score goals, but away to City, we were never going to outscore them, which was what Wenger’s game plan actually was. Overall, it was a disappointing performance to cut our lead back. Here are some match thoughts.
Wenger should have started Arteta. Now more onto Wenger’s choice of tactics for the game. The first mistake of the game was not playing with two holding midfielders. Arteta has been solid this season between him and Flamini they have protected our defence well. City has such a strong midfield, and their full backs get up so often; our defence ended up being exposed on numerous occasions. For the first time in quite a while, our defence was extremely poor, and I believe that a big part of that is due to our midfield’s inability to help out. Our string cheese defence lost us this game.
Walcott deserves a chance up front after his performance. The one silver lining of this match was our attacking ability and in particular Theo Walcott’s performance. It is rare for teams to score at the Etihad, with only Wayne Rooney and Lukaku managing that feat before the match. Walcott managed to get a brace and was unlucky not to score a third. The amount of diagonal runs Walcott made was very encouraging. In the past, finishing has been Walcott’s problem but if he plays the rest of the season like today, then I don’t believe that people will be saying the same thing about Walcott at the end of the season. His second goal was very Henry esque, which I’m sure will please Gooners everywhere.
Having said that, we need a world class striker. Don’t get me wrong, Giroud has been one of our best performers this season. However, he isn’t good enough to play every single weekend like Van Persie, nor does he possess the ability to do well against some clubs. In recent weeks, we have had some tough tests: Dortmund, Liverpool, United, and Everton to name a few. Those are all games in which Giroud has failed to perform, and today was his worst of the season. Giroud has several qualities that he is very good at which makes him a valuable asset to our squad, but most of the qualities he possess don’t work with the bigger clubs. For example, Giroud is one of the best in the league at playing those delicate one two passes. Against top clubs, he hasn’t been able to because teams know how to stop us. Another problem with Giroud is that he is slow and not the best dribbler of the ball which causes our counter attacks to break down easily. Now, most of the qualities he has make a good striker, which he is, but he isn’t what we need every single week.
We didn’t really play badly. This is sort of a contradiction to most of the stuff I have said earlier, but in all honesty, we played all right. The problem is that we played against Man City at the Etihad by trying to score more goals than them. Besides our defence acting as bystanders for most attacks, we created opportunities and scored some well worked goals. I thought that Ramsey did really well along with Walcott. They were probably our two stand out performers of the match and against any other team, their performances would have led to a good victory. Unfortunately, if we are to be title contenders, we also have to beat the big guns, which we have not been able to do this season.
Now onto Monday for the Champions League draw. We’re going to have to play one of the weaker teams like Barca or Real, so I’m sure that this game will be a warm up for one of those.