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At The Etihad: A Tale of Two Halves

The events in this match were reciprocated both to our benefit and detriment. A slightly unfair result for us, considering the amount of chances created and effort we demonstrated to score. Football is as cruel and unforgiving as broken bone: what’s done is done, it’s how you mend the damage.

First Half, We Were Off to the Races

ESPNFC

It was exactly the start everybody had been hoping for. We’d gone out guns blazing, dominating possession and creating the lion’s share of chances. We had City shaking in their boots. Players were making darting runs, confusing City with every cut and turn. We were dynamic and unpredictable, and City were struggling to keep up. You can’t tackle what you can’t touch. They’re central partnership containing Yaya Touré and Javi Garcia couldn’t match the pace at which Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Gervinho were playing, and were exposed fairly easily throughout the first 45 minutes of play.

We had some great opportunities, the most clear-cut being Gervinho’s chance against Joe Hart, which he unfortunately fluffed. His first touch was so heavy that even Nicklas Bendtner would cringe at as the ball rolled neatly into Joe Hart’s grasp.

Not the best of Gervinho, especially given what we’ve been treated to recently. While lacking composure in front of goal, he still tried his best to contribute, making 3 tackles and 1 interception while tracking back. I think part of his poor match was down to who he lined up next to. Not to say that Ramsey wasn’t good enough today, but that Gervinho doesn’t seem comfortable with Ramsey partnering him on the wing.

When Things Went Wrong

We were unfortunate to concede after such good work, especially considering the timing and the fact that we were away from home. The second half loomed, and everybody knew it would be an uphill battle to draw level with City. They’re masters at keeping leads, and it showed as the Citizens hit their stride, leaving our defense to weather the storm of bombarding runs from Sergio Aguero and Yaya Touré. For 95% of the time, our defense was brilliant. There were one or two occasions where we were left scrambled, but Vito Mannone answered each shot on target with fine saves. Don Vito had a good game, with the only bad spot his poor positioning for City’s goal. Still, his confidence grows with each match, softening the blow of having two injured senior keepers.

Our Fighting Spirit Lives On

Last year, no other team in the EPL had recovered more points from losing positions, a testimonial to our newfound mental strength. I hate that term as much as the next, but for once it actually applies to the grit and determination the boys showed today. At no point did it look as though they’d given up, instead they played until the last whistle, and they were rewarded with a superbly taken goal from Laurent Koscielny. Lolo picked up right where he left off last season, coming in for our ill captain, Thomas Vermaelen. A very strong finish to blast the ball into the top corner of the net capped off a perfect return to Premier League action for the Frenchman. The battle for the two spots in defense will be tight this year, with Per Mertesacker showing great form as well as Thomas Vermaelen. This is only a good thing, as healthy competition among elite players only brings excellence.

Men Of the Match

I couldn’t pick just one, so the award goes to our central defensive partnership of Mertesacker and Koscielny. They both made some last-ditch tackles and interceptions. Without these two we wouldn’t have won the match

Player Laurent Koscielny Per Mertesacker
Tackles 6 ( 0 fouls ) 0 ( 0 Fouls )
Interceptions 2 7
Clearances (Effective) 12 (7) 5 (1)
Pass Accuracy 82% 87%

Overall, a slightly disappointing match, we deserved the chance at 3 points, but a draw at away to the Champions of England really isn’t half bad. We continue to get stronger as players return from injury and that squad gets sharper the more training they do. Things are looking up for Arsenal Football Club.

Bring on Chelsea!

Anders

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