Manchester City’s amazing home form continues with a 6-3 victory over Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium. Seems as if the difficult week of fixtures finally have caught up to Arsenal. After a draw at home to Everton last Sunday and a loss midweek to Napoli in the Champions League, Arsenal had little time to recover for the early start against Manchester City. As a result, Arsenal were running on tired legs towards the latter stages of the game and City punished them.
Holding a six-point advantage over City, and a five-point advantage over second place Liverpool and third place Chelsea; Arsenal could have afforded a slip while City had to take the initiative to win this game. Despite knowing this, Arsenal came out to win this game instead of playing it safe. That type of attitude will serve them well in the long run and is a testament to their manager, Arsene Wenger.
Before the game, Manchester City held an undefeated record at home. They were 7-0-0 and scored an amazing 29 goals at home, an average of four goals a game; while only giving up two goals. It was clear that Arsenal were going to be up against it and they responded well at moments throughout the game.
City took the early lead with an Kun Aguero finish in the 14th minute. Martin Demichelis made an unmarked run into the box off the corner and was able to get a flick header on the ball. Aguero was able to run in behind Laurent Koscielny at the far post and finish past Wojciech Szczesny. On the play, Koscielny was caught ball watching and was unable to track the run of Aguero. After the goal, Arsenal showed some fight and was able to equalize in the 31st minute.
Yaya Touré was caught in possession by Aaron Ramsey and he fed the ball wide left to Mesut Özil. Özil was able to find Theo Walcott making a run from the right, cutting in. Walcott didn’t hit the ball cleanly, but it was able to bobble in past Costel Pantilimon. Arsenal were back in the game and gained confidence from the goal, it was evident in their play afterwards. Shortly after, City regained the lead.
Touré was afforded a lot of space and the run of Zabaleta wide right wasn’t tracked. Touré fed the ball to Pablo Zabaleta, as Wilshere was trying to recover to track Zabaleta’s run. Zabaleta provided a low cross to the middle which was finished by Álvaro Negredo to put City back in the lead 2-1. On the play, Koscielny was injured and had to be replaced by Thomas Vermaelen.
Throughout the game, that was the theme; City punishing Arsenal’s errors on defense. City’s 3rd goal came from a misplaced pass by Özil to Flamini in Arsenal’s own half. The 4th came from defensive errors by both Nacho Monreal and Per Mertesacker. Monreal failed to close down Jesús Navas and he was able to provide a low cross to David Silva, who was loosely marked by Mertesacker. Jack Wilshere lost possession in midfield which led to their 5th, and Serge Gnabry’s wayward pass led to James Milner eventually being tripped in the box by Szczesny for their 6th.
Despite Arsenal’s many defensive errors, they responded well after going down and their spirit as a team was always high. Arsenal’s demise in this game was their tiredness due to the heavy schedule they had this week, added to the fact that they fell behind early in this game and had to exert a lot of energy to fight back. Even though Arsenal lost, there are some positives they can take from the game:
1. Theo Walcott’s two goals scored in this game is a positive sign that he may be rounding into form. An in-form Walcott will be essential for Arsenal, as he adds another dimension to their attack when he’s on the field.
2. Despite losing, Arsenal’s spirit never died throughout the game, they kept fighting. This is the spirit that they’re going to need, if they are going to lift the Premier League trophy at the end of the year.
3. Arsenal still hold a two-point lead in the table. The season isn’t lost yet, and even though Manchester City are seen as clear favorites to win the Premier League, they still have poor away form. City still has to travel to the Emirates, and the season is a marathon, not a sprint. One game doesn’t determine who will or will not win the title. What determines who will win is which team is able to maintain the most focus throughout the whole season. Arsenal still has a strong spirit about them and they aren’t going to fade away from the title race. They will be there until the very end.
After a tough week, Arsenal players will have a week to rest before facing Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on Monday. This game will be for first in the table and it’ll be interesting to see how Arsenal will respond after the loss to City.
With the spirit they’ve been playing with all season, I except a good response from the Gunners.