Match Report: Arsenal blunted by City's lack of adventure
By Goonerav | Thursday, January 06, 2011, 12:33
It was billed as the game which would decide which team had the ability to challenge the runaway leaders Manchester United for the title, but after ending 0-0, its fair to say Sir Alex Ferguson's men will have two challengers to face up to.
Manchester City, for all that money spent and all the media hype around their title challenge, came to the Emirates looking to do one thing - not concede. Arsenal on the other hand showed us why football really is the beautiful game with fast, intricate passing that ripped City's midfield apart in the first half and periods of the second.
Arsenal hit the post on numerous occasions and may feel they let off City lightly, but the truth of the matter is Mancini's men never came here to play football, more to soak up Arsenal and walk away unharmed. Around the ground, Arsenal fans could sense the frustrations of players like Carlos Tevez and Yaya Toure who tried to break beyond the halfway line but City were well drilled, not even venturing beyond them. City's performance was epitomised by Toure and Tevez arguing in the first half as to why the former didn't make a run forward to support the Argentine.
Arsenal created and controlled the game but Robin Van Persie and co found Joe Hart was in fine form. The England keeper made several key saves that prevented Arsenal from taking the 3 points. Van Persie in particularly looked as though he had a personal battle with Hart, but in the end the young England keeper kept the Dutchman at bay and frustrated Arsenal further.
Even without Arsenal scoring, the result sets up the league nicely for a tight finish. Man City won't be able to soak up games like this all season, and Arsenal are slowly learning from past mistakes and moving forward. The introduction of Nicklas Bentdner instead of Marouane Chamakh may be questionable on Wenger's part but he will be pleased to see that once again Johann Djourou and Alex Song had very impressive games. The latter, sporting a new golden beard, looked very accomplished in midfield and held the gel of the middle of Arsenal's heart by the strings. If Cesc Fabregas is the puppet master and Samir Nasri the creative spark, then Alex Song is the man who can let others flourish. Throughout the game he kept Yaya Toure at bay whilst controlling and breaking forward beautifully when breaking up anything City could muster.
What does this mean for the title race? I wouldn't say this is a 3 horse title race, despite Chelsea and Tottenham losing, but Arsenal can only continue to take the positives and move forward in the hope Manchester United will eventually drop points. They will face off in April at the Emirates, a game which will be important for those two teams as well as those around them. But before that encounter comes about, United will have to face Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool away. The only question is will Arsenal or even Manchester City capitalise?