It was billed as the incoming Top 4 against the outgoing Top 4 and for most part of the match, this looks to be dead-on true. To make matters worst, Adebayor claimed a goal and ran the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the Arsenal fans ala Thierry Henry but the similarity ended there.
While Henry did it against the hated rivals, Adebayor did it against the very same people he played for previously and the very team that made him what he is today. Granted there’s no love lost between the player and Gooners but it certainly left a bad taste in the mouth. Not only that, he should not have even been on the pitch to score if Mark Clattenburg had eyes. Van Persie was stamped in the face by Adebayor right in front of the referee. Yes, Van Persie was sliding through but the the replay clearly showed the Togolese slamming his foot towards the face of Van Persie. If the cut mark and sore face is not another indication of the intended act then I do not know what it.
The official again had a bad day in the office. Another hand ball decision that should have given Arsenal a penalty when they were 2-1 down was not given. Is it because Barry is English? Go ask the men black. To me it was clear as daylight that he handled the ball that was heading towards goal. Add this to the Adebayor incident and you have 2 vital decisions not given that could change the face of the game.
Although it will be fair to say that Arsenal deserves this defeat with Man City looking better for the most part. The players were sluggish and lacked real penetration. Mark Hughes got his tactics spot on when he started Nigel De Jong for the first time this season to counter the trio of Arsenal’s midfield. For me, De Jong was the reason City won this game. He kept Fabregas in his pocket throughout the game. Everywhere the Spaniard turned, there was De Jong.
For the first time this season, the defensive pairing of Gallas and Vermaelen cracked. One or both were cupable for every single goal that was conceded. Richards was strong against Vermaelen to put in the first, though Almunia was also at fault for seemingly letting in a soft goal. He got his position all wrong and reacted too late to prevent the ball from hitting the post in the first place. Almunia has taken 2 steps back after his 1 step forward last season. He has looked shaky and lack of confidence. Slack marking again cost us dearly with Bellamy’s and Adebayor’s goals. Where was the protection from Song and Denilson? Their poorest game of the season by far. The captain’s performance also left a lot to be desired. Multiple misplaced passes further augmented his poor display.
The only bright points was in this game was Van Persie and Tomas Rosicky. The Dutchman broke his Arsenal duck this season with another special effort from his chocolate leg. Though later he did squandered a few oppourtunities to add to his tally with one late on that hit the post. Rosicky added another feather into his comeback with a well taken goal. He adds the much needed urgency into Arsenal’s game. Another 20 minutes and another step away from the injury nightmares.
So, 2 Manchester games, 2 defeats. What lies next for the supposedly improved Arsenal squad. It is not all bleak and dark. None of the other title challengers have looked convincing (bar City, though at this point it is still to early to classify them as challengers). The 4-3-3 still looks to be a solid formation what with Rosicky returning and Walcott’s recovery. All hopes are not lost yet. AW needs to ensure that his boys bounce back from this and it will be interesting to see his reaction on Adebayor’s stamp on Van Persie.
Gutted and enraged.