Great display from Jack
It's difficult to assess feelings after yesterday. We might have (maybe should have) won the game, but came extremely close to losing it late on. In the context of the opening 85 minutes it's two points dropped, but based on the last ten minutes it's a point earned. What is sure is that we saw Arsenal playing their best football of the season so far. To do so with what was effectively a nine man team was even more impressive.
Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey were awful yesterday from start to finish. Ozil is not going to make it in the Premier League. People keep making the excuse that he's being played out of position, but what was the reason last season? And having watched Cazorla and Wilshere in the centre in recent weeks who would really play Ozil in there ahead of them? There is no defence for the lack of effort that permeates his game. Arsenal can not carry any player, not least one who is so lightweight and so afraid. Ozil looks so scared that I reckon he sleeps with the bedroom light turned on. Ramsey, meanwhile, is firmly in big-time Charlie mode. He needs someone to take him in hand and give him a serious dressing down. At the moment he is doing all the stupid flicks and fancy rubbish that got him in to so much trouble two years ago. Ramsey needs to be reminded that last year he kept it simple and was the shining beacon in the Arsenal team. I was dismayed to see him doing some photo-shoot in a magazine last week. Ramsey should be concentrating on playing football. Six months of quality doesn't make you a top player. It's a shame there's no Keown around to boot him in training, but there is a Steve Bould knocking about (more on him and his lack of influence below).
We started the game magnificently yesterday. For twenty minutes we battered City and should have had the lead. Danny Welbeck deserved a goal yesterday and he should have had it. It was one of those where he was really unlucky, but at the same time he should have buried the chance. What a debut that would have been, and how it would have set him up in the immediate future we will now never know. Overall he was what you expect from him - quick, hard working, good at linking play, but found wanting when in front of goal. I said a couple of weeks ago that he's the English Giroud and yesterday gives me no cause to change my mind. I think he'll get more slack from the fans than Giroud does and hopefully that will work firmly in his favour. Whatever happens he is an improvement on Sanogo.
Jack Wilshere was outstanding yesterday. It was the first time in a long while that Jack has shown the form we know he is capable of. He was running past people as he did when he first came on the scene, he was making tackles and knocking people out of the way - watch this on Nasri. Encouragingly he wasn't rolling around whenever anyone went near him which is a sure sign that he is fit and ready to play. His goal was taken brilliantly and was a throwback to his days in the youths and reserves. When he ran through with the ball on his right foot I thought the chance was gone but Jack had other ideas. The way he and Welbeck both lifted the ball over Joe Hart would indicate that England's players know Hart drops to the ground far too early when one-on-one. Can Jack play like this on a regular basis? We have to hope so as it will mean he is fulfilling his potential and will go on to dominate Arsenal's midfield.
The second Arsenal goal was a showcase of the ability of Alexis Sanchez. Alexis looks the real deal. For someone so small he is incredibly strong and powerful and I've never seen a player so short win so many headers. He never stops running, constantly chasing down opponents and working for the team. He made a wrong decision with the ball at one point in the second-half when he should have played in Ramsey but tried a more difficult pass to a heavily marked Welbeck. Aside from that Alexis was brilliant. He was everything that Ozil wasn't. The finish for his goal was genuinely World Class and he now has three goals in three games. I was excited when we signed Alexis, and I'm even more excited by him now. He looks to have hit the ground running (metaphorically and literally) and he should only get better from here.
As for the goals we conceded we were caught out for our lack of discipline on both of them. How many times are we going to get caught out because both of our full-backs are high up the pitch? Surely it is common sense that if we're going down the left then our right-back needs to hold his position and tuck in, and vice versa on the other side. Flamini was also caught ahead of the ball when City broke and, as he did far too often yesterday, dived in and failed to make a proper tackle. Flamini then switched off and let the magical Sergio Aguero get in for a nice finish. You can't give that sort of space to a side that has the attacking quality of Man City. Nigel Winterburn once explained how George Graham balanced his defence in the event of a full-back going forward. Given that Steve Bould was part of that defence how can Arsenal be caught out this way time and time again? What exactly does Bould do?
The second goal was equally criminal. We'd switched off after Debuchy's injury (which was typical of the freak injuries that seem to keep happening at Arsenal) and City were allowed to give us trouble. When the corner came in Calum Chambers simply stood and watched as Demichelis jumped and headed towards goal. Even then Szczesny should have kept it out having got a big hand to the ball, but the defending was unacceptably bad again. We let in goal after goal from set-pieces. That was the fourth headed goal against us this season. Do you remember the FA Cup Final and how Hull City scored from set-pieces? Let's get back to Steve Bould, former Arsenal centre-back and part of the famous George Graham back-four. We all know that Wenger doesn't work on the opponents, but what is stopping Bould from insisting on doing some work on set-pieces? Why can't he keep the players after training to do a bit extra? This is a recurring problem that is constantly costing us goals and points and Bould is equally as culpable as Arsene Wenger as far as I'm concerned.
There's been plenty of moaning from Pellegrini about Mark Clattenburg's display but he really needs to wind his neck in. Lampard and Zabaletta should have gone before half-time for persistent fouling, and Fernandinho should have walked thirty seconds before Alexis scored after kicking the ball away (to then book Alexis for removing his shirt summed up the way Clattenburg goes about his business). James Milner somehow got through the entire game without a booking, while Vincent Kompany spends more time in the ref ear hole than he does at centre-back. So Pellegrini can look for non-existent fouls all he wants, or for blatant handballs that should have been given, but he needs to put his own house in order first - Manchester City had more than a vague whiff of a Mourinho side about them yesterday and that is wholly unattractive to anyone watching a game of football.
One final word from yesterday about the City fans. Seeing a lot of them milling about before the game I thought to myself that these are not the City supporters I recognise. They looked like glory hunting newbies, the sort that you see with Chelsea. That was reflected in the lack of noise from them (save for a few songs when they scored the opening goal). They were the quietest set of away fans I've heard at Arsenal since Wigan were coming on a regular basis, and that's not what I'm used to from Manchester City. At the same time I have to say that the Arsenal fans atmosphere is getting better at the new place all the time and that's a very welcome thing.