Point taken – ARSENAL 1 MAN CITY 1

The disappointment that engulfed Manchester City’s 1-1 draw at Arsenal is a paradoxical measure of the club’s progress under Manuel Pellegrini.

As the City players trooped off the Emirates pitch it felt like a defeat rather than the continuation of an admirable 10-game unbeaten away run, comprising seven wins and three draws.

Great start - City celebrate going ahead at The Emirates. Courtesy @MCFC

Great start – City celebrate going ahead at The Emirates. Courtesy @MCFC

Instead of a point gained, the emotions screamed of two points squandered. City had failed to overcome a makeshift Arsenal team whose pre-match confidence levels must have been lower than a snake’s belly.

After a week from hell and deprived of key players Ozil, Wilshire, Ramsey, Walcott and Koscielny, the Gunners somehow summoned up the will, skill and determination to cancel out a first half where City were clearly superior.

The double dose of euphoria coursing through City’s veins following the emphatic midweek win at Old Trafford, topped up by a John Terry own goal-inspired Chelsea defeat at Crystal Palace, evaporated as Arsenal displayed an admirable spirit not usually associated with Arsene Wenger’s mentally fragile squad.

Man of the Moment - David Silva is in excellent form. Courtesy @MCFC

Man of the Moment – David Silva is in excellent form. Courtesy @MCFC

Only time will tell if the outcome of this game of two starkly contrasting halves,  contributed to the coronation of City as Premier League champions 2014 or, gifted the crown to either Liverpool or Chelsea.

Taking four points from away trips to Manure and the Gunners within five days would ordinarily be cause for celebration…but not this time around.

This match marked a watershed in Manchester City’s rapid evolution, so quick that it borders on revolution, under the astute stewardship of Sheikh Mansour.

French Resistance - Nasri and Sagna battle at The Emirates. Courtesy @:MCFC

French Resistance – Nasri and Sagna battle at The Emirates. Courtesy @:MCFC

The expectation levels going into it were sky high and the feelings of frustration upon exiting it, palpable. Once again, it could easily give rise to the often aired argument that City have never had it so good, citing rose-tinted comparisons of away day horrors at Lincoln, York and Wycombe.

But that was then and the present day reality is that City – minus just one key player, Sergio Aguero – should have put this game to bed by half time.

A proportion of diehard City supporters, those who have carried the burden of pain through the thin, thin and anorexic days of chronic Manchester City mismanagement and underachievement – might be content to revel in what are, by comparison, halcyon days.

Defensive breach - Demichelis played well but City's defence couldn't keep a 6th consecutive PL clean sheet. Courtesy @MCFC

Defensive breach – Demichelis played well but City’s defence couldn’t keep a 6th consecutive PL clean sheet. Courtesy @MCFC

The ‘You’ve never had it so good…’ brigade are right in so many ways, but that shouldn’t obscure the assertion that City – circa 2013/14 – are still more than capable of repeating past sins and wasting present day opportunities.

It could and should have been a platform to state, unequivocally, that Pellegrini’s men were ready to seize the moment, move to the top of PL table, still with games in hand and a vastly superior goal difference.

When David Silva opened the scoring in the 18th minute the stage was set for a repeat of the ‘Gory Gory Man Utd’ spectacle, when City had ripped their nearest, but far from dearest, neighbours apart.

Back of the net - Silva struck in the 18th minute. Courtesy @MCFC

Back of the net – Silva struck in the 18th minute. Courtesy @MCFC

Operating at a quick swashbuckling tempo, City exerted their authority but, tellingly, did not build up the handsome lead deserving of their approach work.

Even as they dominated there was always a niggling element of profligacy about City’s play in and around Szczeny’s goal.

Silva had been a pre-match doubt, such are the levels of punishment meted out to his ankles, but the Spaniard battled through any pain and discomfort. His sixth goal of the season was uncannily akin to City’s opener at The Swamp.

Edin Dzeko – the scorer on Tuesday night – turned provider, via Szczeny’s right goalpost, as his low struck drive cannoned off the ‘woodwork’ into Silva’s path.

Merlin’s instinctive reactions were enough to see him divert the ball into the gaping net.

He Ain't Heavy - Dzeko holds scorer Silva aloft. Courtesy @MCFC

He Ain’t Heavy – Dzeko holds scorer Silva aloft. Courtesy @MCFC

The goal came six minutes after referee Mike Dean had failed to book the Gunner’s lively Rosicky after the Czech midfielder’s penalty appeal, following virtually negligible contact from Zabaleta.

But Dean, who officiated the corresponding fixture last season when he sent of Laurent Koscielny and Vincent Kompany, wasn’t slow to start showing yellow cards aplenty to City.

Yaya Toure was rightly booked for needlessly pulling Rosicky back in the middle of the park. Quite why Yaya indulges in this stupid behaviour remains a mystery.

Dive dive dive - Rosicky should have seen yellow and ultimately red. Courtesy @MCFC

Dive dive dive – Rosicky should have seen yellow and ultimately red. Courtesy @MCFC

Kompany was booked for a body-check on Arteta just seconds before brilliantly tackling Giroud, as he shaped to shoot towards Joe Hart’s goal.

The City skipper has an ‘all-action’ style whereby he runs the risk of bookings, but referees often seem too eager to take his name.

The irritating Rosicky was eventually given the booking he so richly deserved on 42 minutes after a bad tackle on Clichy, well after the ball had gone.

Silva and Garcia couldn’t complain about their yellow cards, but City could and should complain about Dean’s inconsistency.

Yellow peril - Kompany was one of four City players booked by inconsistent Mike Dean. Courtesy @MCFC

Yellow peril – Kompany was one of four City players booked by inconsistent Mike Dean. Courtesy @MCFC

Arteta’s 69th minute pull back on Nasri went unpunished. It was exactly the same type of foul that saw Yaya booked.

Rosicky should have seen red for a third bookable offence – when he scythed Silva down in the 85th minute. Dean bottled it again.

Back to the actual football and City’s luck was out in the 52nd minute when Szcezny fumbled Jesus Navas’ low driven cross. The ball ricocheted off the Polish keeper onto the shin of the blameless Dzeko and painfully past the post. 2-0 would have killed the game off.

Jesus was close - Navas' cross caused havoc and so nearly resulted in a 2nd City goal. Courtesy @MCFC

Jesus was close – Navas’ cross caused havoc and so nearly resulted in a 2nd City goal. Courtesy @MCFC

60 seconds later, it was very much game on as Flamini swept home Arsenal’s ultimately deserved equaliser – wrecking City’s hopes of a club record six consecutive PL clean sheets.

Having not conceded for nearly 8½ hours, Joe Hart thwarted Podolski on the hour when the German striker looked set to give the Gunners an undeserved lead.

The ‘consolation’ of this stalemate in North London is that City still control their own Premier League destiny.

Tough away trips to both the blue and red halves of Merseyside await, but City need to focus on the job in hand and what will be a real test from a lively looking Southampton.

Returning hero - Sergio could fire City to title glory. Courtesy @MCFC

Returning hero – Sergio could fire City to title glory. Courtesy @MCFC

A returning Aguero, albeit from the sub’s bench, on Saturday lunchtime could be the catalyst for PL glory. Having missed 13 PL games so far, a Sergio scoring streak would spell bad luck for City’s opponents and rivals alike.

 

#TrustOurMP

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com

@djwskyblu

 

Today’s READ BUT NEVER RED is dedicated to my lovely Little Lady Debi – a proud & loving mum to Jack & Mollie – and to all Mums the world over.

Were it not for them it actually would be a case of… ‘WE’RE NOT, WE’RE NOT REALLY HERE, WE’RE NOT, WE’RE NOT REALLY HERE…’

22 Comments

  1. March 30, 2014  8:58 am by Reagon Gunner Reply

    The question is. What would have been if The Arsenal had their full squad for the whole season. BEWARE NEXT SEASON.

    • March 30, 2014  9:41 am by David Walker Reply

      Fair point fella - so much will depend on the summer transfer market - but before that the big factor will be who can offer Champions League football next season? Thanks for commenting.

  2. March 30, 2014  9:20 am by Blue inc Reply

    Very good report on the game as always Dave. Just a quick question do you not think if Ferni had had his shooting boots on or passed to players in a better shooting position the game would of been won? Twice he struck screamers from the edge of the box row Z ing both..
    If that would've been Dzeko, fans would of been calling him a Donkey..

    • March 30, 2014  9:49 am by David Walker Reply

      I think the second of the two Ferni efforts should definitely have been laid off as a pass with Silva available. You're right in that certain players get singled out if things go wrong and other favourites seem to get a free pass with the fans. No players are beyond reasonable constructive criticism but there's a time and a place and I certainly would never do it in the heat of match day battle.

    • March 30, 2014  11:03 am by John Evans7 TT Reply

      Blueink,

      Shooting is what Brazilians do, and usually rather well.

      He's seen his partner Yaya do it and now he want's to. He will improve with practice.

      • March 31, 2014  9:10 am by David Walker Reply

        I wouldn't criticise Fernandinho for shooting - he's had it right against Arsenal at Etihad & Fulham.

  3. March 30, 2014  9:44 am by John Evans7 TT Reply

    I wonder if we would have got a different 'result' (although it would be churlish to turn your nose up at a point) had Chelsea not lost to Palace. Chelsea probably/definitely had one eye on the game against PSG.

    The door had been left open for Gooners to get back in title race by beating us, and they performed accordingly. Whilst it wasn't a win for us, it was most definitely a loss for them!

    I agree with you, how 'Ratboy' remain on the pitch after his assault on Silva is a mystery. The smug Dean certainly has a profile I'd love to re-arrange.

    Not a bad week as it turned out.

    • March 30, 2014  9:53 am by David Walker Reply

      It'd be great to see Spurs get something positive out of Anfield today but I'm not holding my breath. Given that we're still paying Adebayor (or so 'm led to believe) it'd be nice if he bloody well earned it and pegged Liverpool back to a draw. It's all to play for and if we can get Sergio back and firing it'd add a new dimension. He has now missed 13 games - that has to be worth at least 10 goals to the team - but City aren't alone with key injuries. Hats off to Arsenal they were decimated with injuries yesterday.

  4. March 30, 2014  10:05 am by Andy Devereux Reply

    To be honest not a bad week really 7pts from 9 which included away days at Manure and Arse just a sense of disappointment at yesterdays second half.Its still in our hands and I for one still believe. Great read again David :)

    • March 30, 2014  10:31 am by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Andy - I too believe we will still win it but we shouldn't have let that slip away irrespective of Arsenal's feisty spirit. #TrustOurMP

  5. March 30, 2014  12:42 pm by carole Reply

    Yesterday's result was hugely disappointing but not unexpected. A season playing such an intense, mentally and physically draining style of football, much of it twice a week, seems finally to have caught up with us....
    .
    I always remember Kompany remarking on the physically exhausting nature of the new regime...and the training.. shortly after Pellegrini arrived. Once we got used to the new level, we were magnificent for months on end. But it has seemingly become impossible to sustain it, playing twice a week as the season nears its end.

    Some key players never get a rest....Yaya, Zaba, Silva, Nasri, Ferna among them. That's why I thought MP made a mistake playing to same team which gave their all at Old Trafford just a few days before. Why not Kolarov, Jovetic,Garcia to freshen things up?
    We started off magnificently againt Arsenal but in the 2nd half we looked leggy and fatigued, mentally as well as physically.

    Liverpool have had no such problems, playing a similar attacking style but benefiting from a week's R and R for most of the season. It's why they never look likely to lose. I don't think they will slip up so close to the wire. Sadly, I cannot see us doing the same. Our next 2 matches, against Southampton and Liverpool are against teams who have had a much easier season than us and I'd be surprised if we didn;'t drop more points.

    PS Interesting this same malaise has affected Chelsea, as we saw yesterday. High tempo, brilliant counterattacking play one week thrashing a rival 6-0 followed by a lacklustre weary effeort against Palace.

    • March 30, 2014  4:18 pm by David Walker Reply

      Hopefully Sergio will be back against Southampton, Jovetic chomping at the bit, Garcia is more dependable & Milner hasn't been overplayed. Silva's fitness is key because he takes so much punishment. Hope springs eternal! Thanks.

  6. March 30, 2014  3:30 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    I'm happy with the point and the first half display. The second half was a case of backs to the wall defensive grit, which we managed to sustain, even if, in Joe Hart's case, it was a matter of inches and boot studs to deny Podolski.
    A second so soon could have been fatal.
    I thought Kompany was unlucky with his card, as all he seemed to do to me was to stand his ground, rather than move to block off the opponent.
    Saturday could be interesting. Saints pose a threat, but are also vulnerable.

    • March 30, 2014  4:41 pm by David Walker Reply

      If we're to be champions we have to grind out the results - it's a bit feeble to blame fixture overload as some are - because 4 competitions are standard fair if you want to be at the top table of European football. Thanks Graham.

  7. March 30, 2014  4:58 pm by DOUGLAS HENSHAW Reply

    Good as always Dave 1st half we didn't capitalise on the how good we were 2nd half they came back a draw was unfortunately a fair result. Ref was crap again.Dont understand why MP didn't swap Jovetic for Dezko early the game was crying out for someone like him ti link witn Silva But what is done is done hopefully Aquerrooooooooooooo will be back for run in & maybe just maybe there is a twist yet to come. Can't understand some blues moaning get behind the team be positive never say never. TrustOurMP.

    • March 31, 2014  9:04 am by David Walker Reply

      A returning Aguero can make a hell of a difference in the 'home straight' . I must admit I find the utterances of Brenda Maureen nauseating & just hope that the statesmanlike Pellegrini has the last word.

  8. March 30, 2014  7:52 pm by Simon Dear Reply

    I think the over riding key to the hast two games is the 5 days in which we have played both has probably prevented 6 pts , but having said that I would have taken 4 before those games.
    Liverpool look the part but its not exactly theirs to lose , they will need to beat us & Chelsea to win it , lots of questions yet to be asked of them , it's down to three now & we have to dig in , we have a week until the saints match & then another week till Liverpool , we will be ready for them and hopefully Sergio will be .
    To the Gooner who's first post about injuries and lack of squad , will that be the one we smashed
    6 past then?.
    Keep the faith blues get behind the team for the next cup final .
    Great read David, although the 'over ' disappointment of drawing away at Arsenal 5 days after putting the rags to the sword is a little perplexing.

    • March 31, 2014  9:09 am by David Walker Reply

      The next fortnight should give City the chance to rest some aching limbs & battered bodies as we cut out midweek games before Sunderland roll up. Silva needs wrapping in cotton wool & Sergio & Jovetic could be key to getting the goals to accumulate the points. That way Liverpool will have to give back the title they apparently won yesterday.

  9. March 31, 2014  1:33 pm by carol Reply

    great piece Davy, it was frustrating, although not as frustrating as seeing blues on twitter writing us off for the season after the Liverpool game. Some people do need to get a grip! And just as an aside, dont you think Mike Dean looks like Jasper Carrott?....just asking x

    • March 31, 2014  2:06 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Blondie - well we've had a Swede officiate like a turnip so why not a Carrot show all the intelligence of a vegetable? Liverpool won the title yesterday apparently according to great swathes of the media. Imagine their surprise when Vinnie holds the trophy aloft on May 11. Thanks as ever for reading x

  10. April 1, 2014  6:20 am by Pete Lynch Reply

    Thanks Dave. Liverpool...please nooooooo

    • April 1, 2014  9:13 am by David Walker Reply

      Apparently 'Pool had Cilla Black, Jimmy
      Tarbuck & Ken Dodd at Spurs game - despite Brenda's media veneer they think they've won the title already. That sort of arrogance/attitude will suit Vinnie & Co on April 12.

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