Saturday, March 29, 2014

Arsenal 1 - Man City 1

Based on previous games against other top-four clubs, and Arsenal's recent (poor) record against Man City, I expected Arsenal to lose this game at home by at least three or four goals to one. How much credit, if any, do the Gunners and Arsene Wenger deserve for a draw?

The importance of the contest was underscored by Chelsea's defeat, earlier in the day, away to Crystal Palace, which created an opportunity for Man City to draw even on points with the League leaders (with two games in hand), or for Arsenal to pull back to within three points of the League lead (although we Arsenal fans have already pretty much reconciled ourselves to not winning the League trophy this season).

Man City took the lead in the 20th minute on a goal by the in-form David Silva. Once again, Arsenal had to chase a game against a side with a lethal counterattack. To their credit, the Gunners responded almost immediately, but Flamini was ruled offside when he slid in toward the six-yard box to bounce a Podolski cross into the net. That turned out to be the only clear-cut chance Arsenal created in the first half. But at least they kept the deficit at one heading into the halftime break.

I don't know whether Wenger did, or needed to, say anything to the team during the break; everyone must have known the importance of getting three points, no matter how strong the opposition. In any case, Arsenal continue to come at the Man City defense, and eventually found the opening to create the equalizer, which Flamini scored in the 53d minute from a cross to the center-top of the box by Podolski. Arsenal should perhaps have had a second a minute later, when Sagna crossed a ball right across the top of the six yard box that no one touched; unfortunately, no one was breaking in on goal to get the vital touch. Nevertheless, with more than a half hour still to play, the game was level, and Arsenal seemed to be in the ascendancy.

About ten minutes later, both teams created good opportunities. First, Man City missed an opportunity when Szczesny came out to claim a cross but missed it; the ball bounded across the end line off of Mertesacker, but Arsenal were awarded a goal kick. Then, Arsenal had a similar opportunity in the Man City penalty area, but Podolski's good shot from the left channel was well saved by Joe Hart. After that, Man City started to put more pressure on Arsenal's defense, creating a couple of set pieces from dangerous areas, but they were unable to convert them into clear goal-scoring opportunities.

Both teams created decent chances as the second half wore on, but couldn't quite get through the other's defense to get the winning goal. In the final ten minutes of the match, City seemed to tire a bit; or perhaps Arsenal were just more motivated to chase all three points. In any case, Arsenal were pressing for the winning goal into stoppage time. But none was forthcoming. The game ended in a draw. A moral victory for the Gunners? If so, what's a moral victory worth?

No comments:

Post a Comment

I actively moderate comments for spam, advertisements, and abusive or offensive language.