Go figure – City blasted by Gunners – Man City 0 Arsenal 2

There are lies, damned lies and statistics and, after a shocking display, Manchester City were left to go and figure it out as to how and why it had all gone so horribly wrong.

Possession is supposed to be nine-tenths of the law, but Manuel Pellegrini’s men will testify that 65% possession counts for 100% of sweet FA when it comes to winning football matches.

Misfiring - Ex-Gooner Gael Clichy was the best of a bad bunch as City slumped to defeat. Courtesy@MCFC

Misfiring – Ex-Gooner Gael Clichy was the best of a bad bunch as City slumped to defeat. Courtesy@MCFC

In the land of sporting clichés, goals win games, even if one of them comes from the softest of penalties.

The corner count – 16 to City and just three to Arsenal – would suggest the Gunners somehow survived a barrage of incoming fire from the hosts, to escape with this 2-0 victory.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Manchester City’s corners carry all the menace of a meringue on Mogadon – a popular tranquilliser for those none too well versed in the world of pharmaceuticals.

Even living legends have off days - Zaba wasn't at his best as City were outgunned. Courtesy@MCFC.

Even living legends have off days – Zaba wasn’t at his best as City were outgunned. Courtesy@MCFC.

With the gloriously splendid City Football Academy now in full swing, just a quick walk across the Suisse Gas-sponsored footbridge from the Etihad Stadium, one wonders what the hell goes on at the set-piece training drills for the first team squad.

All season long, City’s corners kicks have been as effective as a one-legged man at an arse-kicking competition. Compared to the collective deliveries of messrs Milner, Silva, Nasri, Navas & Co, the Royal Mail looks like a best in class operation.

Manuel Pellegrini bemoaned the lack of creativity – quite rightly – in this damp squib of a performance – but corners are supposed to provide goal scoring opportunities, a threat to the defending team, a reason for the fans of the attacking side to get excited and pump up the volume.

JESUS - City's corner kicks were atrocious and Navas was among those making a contribution. Courtesy@MCFC

JESUS – City’s corner kicks were atrocious and Navas was among those making a contribution. Courtesy@MCFC

The Chilean boss is a winner, a smart cookie, an astute tactician, a respected manager…so why the hell can’t he and his team of coaches see what is plain to every City fan – the team are ‘ckin clueless at corner kicks.

Time after time the ball is floated across the 18-yard box in insipid style, only to be headed away by some towering opposition centre back.

That is of course, when the corner goes beyond the proverbial ‘first man’ which isn’t always. Come on Manuel, show some ingenuity – engineer a solution…and quickly!

Bad Kompany - Captain Fantastic was a bit rusty on his first team return. Courtesy@MCFC

Bad Kompany – Captain Fantastic was a bit rusty on his first team return. Courtesy@MCFC

There’s mitigation to be heard in City’s defence, but let’s be clear, Arsenal thoroughly deserved the three points.

For once Arsene Wenger let his team’s football do his talking, rather than his constant moaning about City and Financial Fair Play, the Lampard loan, blah blah blah, ad nauseam.

Mike Dean aided and abetted Arsenal in what appears to be something of ‘thing’ with Vincent Kompany. He sent Kompany off at the Emirates two seasons ago – wrongly as it happened – as Vinny’s red card was rescinded within 48 hours.

This time Dean adjudged that the City skipper had forcibly blocked and felled Monreal in the 23rd minute. In truth Kompany had simply stood his ground.

Snuffed out - Merlin's magic dust never settled as Silva was hurried and hassled by dogged Arsenal defending. Courtesy@MCFC

Snuffed out – Merlin’s magic dust never settled as Silva was hurried and hassled by dogged Arsenal defending. Courtesy@MCFC

The excellent Santi Cazorla converted the ensuing spot kick. The home fans had taunted the 30-year old Spanish midfield maestro, labelling him, ‘Just a sh*t David Silva…’

The ex-Malaga man had the last laugh on the City fans, and his former boss, Pellegrini.

Dean later booked Kompany for a foul, totally ignoring the fact Giroud had fouled Zabaleta immediately beforehand in the same passage of play. Fair to say Mr Dean is not a ‘Kompany man’.

Having missed the previous six games – and the three prior to the away win at Leicester in December – the Belgian Boulder was unsurprisingly, a bit rusty.

Mr Dependable - Martin Demichelis had an uncharacteristically poor game. Courtesy@MCFC

Mr Dependable – Martin Demichelis had an uncharacteristically poor game. Courtesy@MCFC

So too was Sergio Aguero, his first real action in 10 matches since sustaining knee ligament damage. Edin Dzeko managed a 15-minute cameo appearance – his first in eight matches.

Samir Nasri was missing with a calf strain and Yaya Toure and new £25m striker Wilfried Bony were on international duty with the Ivory Coast.

It wasn’t as if Pellegrini was without excuses, had he wanted to go down that route.

In fairness the City boss – like the magnanimous home support – accepted that the Champions were well below par as a more direct, incisive and tenacious Arsenal chalked up their first win in their last four attempts at the Etihad.

Out in Africa - How City could have done with Yaya sliding into Manchester against Arsenal. Courtesy@MCFC

Out in Africa – How City could have done with Yaya sliding into Manchester against Arsenal. Courtesy@MCFC

A far cry from the 6-3 football festival of December 2013.

City’s defeat – their first in 15 games – was sealed with some abject defending, allowing Olivier Giroud a pathetically simple free header past a helpless Joe Hart in the 66th minute.

Hindsight’s a wonderful thing and, at the risk of being wise after the event, whereas City’s run of results has been impressive, their performances have been creaking under the heavy burden of crocked stars.

Makeshift Milner - City have suffered with injuries - Jimmy scored a brace against the Owls in the FA Cup. Courtesy@MCFC

Makeshift Milner – City have suffered with injuries – Jimmy scored a brace against the Owls in the FA Cup. Courtesy@MCFC

Wins over Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday, book-ended by draws with Burnley and Everton, have perhaps flattered to deceive.

Pellegrini’s squad has had its spine missing on numerous occasions, but still managed to display backbone.

Rather than be berated for what was indeed a dreadful display devoid of verve, vitality and creativity, City should perhaps be credited with doing so well for so long when just about running on fumes.

Sergio shutout - if Aguero starts against Middlesbrough he can gain match fitness for the Battle of the Bridge. Courtesy@MCFC

Sergio shutout – if Aguero starts against Middlesbrough he can gain match fitness for the Battle of the Bridge. Courtesy@MCFC

A win at Chelsea – as unlikely as it might seem at this moment – is well within City’s capabilities. The upcoming FA Cup 4th Round clash with Middlesbrough provides a great opportunity for a show of strength and a shedding of cobwebs for City’s big-hitters.

It’s not being defeatist to say the FA Cup could yet be City’s best option of silverware this year, it would certainly be an indefensible folly if Pellegrini assembles a ‘pick and mix’ XI on Saturday.

Head & Shoulders - Giroud rose above the City defence to score past Joe Hart. Courtesy@MCFC

Head & Shoulders – Giroud rose above the City defence to score past Joe Hart. Courtesy@MCFC

Forget the cotton wool and bubble wrap – play the best available players and bash the Boro in readiness for the Battle of the Bridge.

A spot of warm weather training in the sunshine and luxury of Abu Dhabi will do no harm this week and wins in the Cup and Premier League could see City turn a big corner by the end of the month.

Oh, did somebody mention corners?



By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu


  1. January 19, 2015  9:44 pm by Doug Sharp Reply

    Good as ever. Thanks for bringing some very good humour to such a dismal performance. Spot on as usual David. Have yet to find the resolve to watch match again.

    • January 19, 2015  10:34 pm by David Walker Reply

      Believe me Doug - delivered through gritted teeth. I should have been unconscious for this one, not Sunderland at home ;-)

  2. January 19, 2015  9:50 pm by Fifthcolumnblue Reply

    It's not the losing that pisses me off, it's the smugness of the cup winners that really does it for me.

    • January 19, 2015  10:36 pm by David Walker Reply

      I can readily identify with that sentiment Number 5. I suppose it's a back-handed compliment that it means so much to them to beat The Champions of England.

      • January 23, 2015  5:51 pm by goonermichael Reply

        When you haven't won away at a top team for years what would you expect? Hopefully it's a monkey off our back as they say.

        • January 23, 2015  7:36 pm by David Walker Reply

          In fairness of course you're going to enjoy it - any football fan is going to relish the occasion and savour the moment of beating a rival, especially away from home. I hope I might experience the same emotions - possibly even more heightened - on January 31st ;-)

  3. January 19, 2015  9:53 pm by susan richardson Reply

    Lessons need to be heeded. City should do the same our goals conceded is a worry and surely creativity is squarely in MP's remit. The signs have been there last few games. Watching Naval is like groundhog day surely he is capable of more than winning corners which as you so eloquently point out we are useless at. The slow play back passing and giving the ball away is frustrating I felt for the forwards yesterday absolutely dire service. Hate losing like that but credit to Arsenal they deserved the win.

    • January 19, 2015  10:39 pm by David Walker Reply

      With you all the way Susan. It's not a kneejerk reaction but City need some major changes in personnel this summer if we are to become a power in the Champions League and get into the habit of winning back-to-back titles. Of course, we can still do it this season - a season which in all fairness HAS been decimated by injury to major players. After Chelsea away we still have four months to go and, if we have key players fit, Bony firing and, I suspect one more signing, we can still do it.

  4. January 19, 2015  10:30 pm by Alison Reply

    An excellent analogy of a bad day at the office.

    • January 19, 2015  10:40 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Alison - I'd like to say it was a joy to write...but I'd be lying. I hate losing - thankfully it doesn't happen too often nowadays.

  5. January 19, 2015  11:04 pm by Bradley Reply

    An absolutely pathetic and bias article. It was a blatant penalty as kompany stuck his knee quite blatantly into monreal. Every other thing you have said about the decisions are bull shit also. Kompany should of been sent off for a 2nd yellow for a lunge after the ball had gone just outside the box. Absolute cretin

    • January 20, 2015  8:33 am by David Walker Reply

      Free speech and the right of reply are the cornerstones of democracy so, thanks Bradley for calling me a cretin, but at least credit me as a cretin who attracted your attention for 2 or 3 minutes of your reading time...you'll never get those 180 seconds back in your life because I pinched them ;-)

  6. January 19, 2015  11:08 pm by paul j Reply

    great read as per david I would just like to add a few words, I am getting a little pissed off with officials this season the penalty situation in particular is getting beyond a joke now, three against the rags the one against s/hampton all stone wall not given, performances in general with the likes of jones, oliver that clown we had against sunderland whose name I cant recall and the one against stoke people laugh at the agenda theory but the longer the season goes on the more it makes me think!! anyway keep up the good work mate look forward reading it each week cheers!!

    • January 20, 2015  8:37 am by David Walker Reply

      Totally agree Paul - the standard of refereeing has never been lower - even Keith Hackett the former boss of the 'refs association' said as much recently. Obviously we do view the world through sky blue tints, but we have been wronged far more than we've benefited from the rub of the green, often I believe maliciously. That said, although Mike Dean had a poor game, City didn't look as if they'd have scored with a $100 bill in a brothel on Sunday. Many thanks for your comment.

  7. January 20, 2015  7:03 am by pete lynch Reply

    Spot on David. Bloody corners oh and Navas actually goes past his man and hitting the by line! Pretty abject performance but with Kompany, serg and dzeko back watch us fly again(please!)

    • January 20, 2015  8:17 am by David Walker Reply

      Let's hope so Pete - wind beneath our wings...& nothing to do with the pre-match balti chicken pie

  8. January 20, 2015  7:26 am by Eileen Fullen Reply

    Like you David hate losing but as you point out Pellars needs to sort out those bloody corners..was it 16 wow and possession and we still looked dire.i feel the title slipping away if we don't up the anti don't think we've played to our best this season ..but hope we will pick up the mantle again..
    Good to have you back

    • January 20, 2015  8:19 am by David Walker Reply

      If we lose at Chelsea it might be asking too much to make up an eight point deficit AGAIN. We just look like we've run out of steam BUT if Vinny, Sergio, Edin, Yaya & Wilfried come back firing who's to say we can't win win & keep on winning?

  9. January 20, 2015  9:08 am by Guvnor Reply

    Kompany, a bit rusty? No just poor and just making the wrong choices. Stick two men on Silva, that can nullify our supply. As for the midfield, why are we jumping in and then not getting back when they miss their tackles. I do not know why we were shot shy. Good read as usual Mr Walker. It was good to see the EDS playing in front of a big crowd at the Academy stadium.

    • January 20, 2015  3:15 pm by David Walker Reply

      Not the Captain's greatest display, nor the team's, but we all have off days don't we? Thanks Guvnor, always appreciate your input.

  10. January 20, 2015  11:07 am by James HouseOlogy Reply

    AK47 is about our best corner taker, that's all I have to say this time. Smart read David

    • January 20, 2015  3:16 pm by David Walker Reply

      Wouldn't disagree on that point JHO!

  11. January 20, 2015  5:59 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Welcome back Dave I've missed you lol. Was a bad day at the Etihad on Sunday without a doubt. Arsenal full deserved the win but we were so poor I just couldn't believe it just hope its a one off & we will recover quickly. But boy do we need to practice corners 16 & not one threatened the Arsenal goal shameful. I know we were missing players & some were just coming back but come on we should of done better. Plus I had to put up with a gooner at work telling me all day how Arsenal played us off the park & not really being able to argue. Enough of this doom & gloom I hear you shout, really pleased that readbutneverred is back & you are on the mend how I have missed you both welcome back super scribe. #citdddddd

    • January 21, 2015  9:02 am by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Doug - very generous comments. Hopefully the team will be back on track come Saturday.

  12. January 20, 2015  11:34 pm by ham Reply

    Absolutely gutted at the wimper of a performance from the mighty citeh.
    after we went an thumped the chavs for ya 5-3, to give you a chance at the league, is that the best you could do against the woolwich wanderers?
    think you played all your jokers when you fluked a win over us at your ground.
    Cmon boyos dont let ud down against the blue scum on the weekend

    • January 21, 2015  9:09 am by David Walker Reply

      Not a very good showing by any stretch of the imagination. Must do better against Maureen's bunch, as you can imagine we always have Spurs' best interests at heart every time we play ;-) Happy New Year fella!

      • January 21, 2015  12:31 pm by ham Reply

        Heard Adebayors looking for a move from whl, if your interested in solving your striker crises,
        sure we could accept Bony as a make weight :-}
        A very happy new year to your good selves too, fantastic quality site.

        • January 21, 2015  7:42 pm by David Walker Reply

          Cheers Ham - someone said Juventus wanted Ade, at least that's what I thought they said but I misheard...it was Fray Bentos, definitely Fray Bentos! ;-)

  13. January 21, 2015  11:16 am by Toby Teasdale Reply

    Too much broadsword, not enough rapier.

    Like Maureen last year, the Strasbourg Squawker had done his homework and arranged for Silva to be isolated more closely than an Ebola contact. Missing Yaya and Nasri and with Milner off form we were guileless. Returnees Aguero and Kompany were not at the races.

    Much as admire the industry of Navas his play is limited, to often running wide and forgetting to cross. Does he not train with Kolarov? Worse, his corners are about as accurate as Thierry Henry's post-match analysis' (I am beginning to loathe Sky and their bombast). Problem is BBC and BT are even worse.

    I can’t wait for the ANC to end. Come on you Macaroons!

    • January 21, 2015  7:49 pm by David Walker Reply

      What's the African National Congress got to do with City's slip up ;-)? The TV analysts are a bunch of fckwits who insult our intelligence, why do we need them to tell us what we've already witnessed. So much better to watch it in the stadium and, if all goes pear shaped just come home and hit delete without watch a single minute of a City defeat.

      Admittedly, bit of a bugger if attempting to write a post match blog, but RBNR never do blow by blow accounts of a match. Rather like the pundits - what's the point? Thanks for your comments TT, all is not lost. Get the cobwebs off Sergio, Vinny and Edin, get Samir fit, blast the Ivory Coast out in the Group stage and have Yaya and Wilfried return and maybe have a few bob for a shiny new midfielder and we can still get major silverware.

      I surprised myself at the air of optimism of this latest blog - maybe it's the medication ;-)

      • January 21, 2015  11:34 pm by Toby Teasdale Reply

        Your optimism may be justified as Edin scored a nice one against Hamburg today, as my stream was from Korea couldn't work out the City player stretchered off in the second half (no, it wasn't Lampard), everybody else seem present and accounted for at the award ceremonies after the match.

        Talking of Germany Article 8(2) of the statutes of the Bundesliga (50+1 rule) states club members must retain a majority stake in their club of 50% plus one deciding vote on the board.

        However…..Tycoon Dietmar Hopp, purchased 49% of Hoffenheim an amateur club from a village of less than 3,500 people. Hopp’s associates owning the rest of the club, allowing him virtual control, just like an EPL team. Hoffenheim have risen from division 5 to Bundesliga, in less than ten years. Hopp’s investment has included a new stadium and academy. Remind you of anybody?

        Interestingly todays opponents Hamburg SV, are burdened with debts of around 100 million euros and mortgaged up to the hilt. ‘Hamburg City’ has a kind of ring to it. Certainly give those sh1t kicking Bavarians something to think about.

        • January 22, 2015  7:30 pm by David Walker Reply

          That'll be the same lederhosen wearing, sauerkraut munching bunch who are gradually being reeled in, in the revenue earning stakes by liddle old citeh? Tax evader Hoeness and the suspect Rummenigge will be hopping mad if Hoffenheim take their Bundesliga crown. Are the minnows led by a certain Hoffmeister?

  14. January 23, 2015  6:02 pm by goonermichael Reply

    A fair assessment of the match and well written. My heart sank when I heard it was dean as he hates us. He must not like you either as that penalty (although it was a pen) wouldn't have been given if we were playing tottenham, chelsea or the other mancs. Like someone said earlier Kompany should have been off. But I don't think you're a cretin :). When you talk about corners you could be talking about us. I always expect us to concede from the counter when we get a corner. We are allowed to be happy once in a while you know. We haven't won a "big" match away in the league for ages and we are constantly reminded of it. It had replaced the "no trophy for 10 years" narrative so it will be interesting what the new one is. Good luck for the rest of the season. Hope you can beat the chavs.

    • January 23, 2015  7:44 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks for your courteous comments. Isn't this how it should be - you're passionate about your team and me, mine - but we don't have to resort to insults etc. Funny how you view Mike Dean - I used to think he was the best of a very bad bunch, but he's been doing his best recently to blend back in with the pack. Arsenal play good football and had it not been for FFP I think Pellegrini would have gone all out for Sanchez in the summer. The one thing that causes annoyance is Wenger's self righteous whinging about City's finances and questioning the 'legality' of all that we do.

      What about this for a deal - we win the title and keep the Chavs off the top and you keep Louis Van Gutteral's Gaalacticos in the Europa League places. Thanks again Michael, always a pleasure...even in defeat.

  15. January 24, 2015  3:28 am by goonermichael Reply

    Sounds like a good deal. If you watch Wenger's interviews and think that fair enough. Don't take headlines and reports at face value though. Everything he says gets twisted,

    • January 24, 2015  3:43 pm by David Walker Reply

      Maybe, but I hear enough quotes from Arsene to know that he should know better than to be drawn in by mischievous journalists.

      • January 25, 2015  4:38 am by goonermichael Reply

        Sometimes the quotes aren't what he says. i don'y believe anything now unless I watch it.

        • January 25, 2015  6:49 pm by David Walker Reply

          Fair enough. Looks like we've done the decent thing and given you an easier run to retain the FA Cup...oops!

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