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The end result meant that for the first time this season, no goals were scored at the Grove and only the second time that Arsenal have failed to hit the back of the net (Chelsea was the last one to be able to do that). The match itself was no where near a classic. Jabs were traded but no punches were thrown. In the end, we’re only edging closer to confirming the 3rd spot and Man City now probably have the upper hand in their quest for the last of the Champions League spots.
I can only recall a single threatening shot all match. That came from Abou Diaby’s stinging drive from outside the box. By making that save, Shay Given dislocated his shoulder and was forced to be taken off straight away. Kudos to the Arsenal fans for applauding him as he was stretchered off. It does show that Arsenal fans are a class apart from the rest. Those Stoke fans who mocked Ramsey when he was being stretchered off must be ashamed of themselves.
I believe the defeat last weekend at Wigan was still preying in the minds of Arsenal players. They still looked stunned by the results and that perhaps contributed to their inhibitions in the game. We were looking to improve defensively and by doing so, lacked any real momentum or drive going forward. On the other side of the pitch, Man City was surely aware of the earlier result of the day and knows that Spurs have been beaten by United and the advantage is back in their favour. That contributed to the negative game plan that Mancini started with. Tevez had to plough the lone furore up front and could do little against Campbell and Silvestre.
Defensively, we kept our shape well and were making the right choices in most of the situations. Clichy handled himself well against Adam Johnsen while Sagna managed to somehow kept Bellamy’s pace in check. I feel that Song’s absence in the past couple of games have been the most telling. The evidence was clear for all to see. With him back in the side, we were never outplayed in midfield and not for the first time, Song was a perfect screen for the back four. The clean sheet earned would have instil some form of confidence back to Fabianski, though he practically had nothing to do the whole match bar taking goal-kicks and clearing the ball.
Adebayor did not start but Vieira did. However, if anything, this match only further highlighted his demise from one of the being the world’s best midfielder. On one hand, it was good that he is not as good as he was when he was wearing the red and white but on the other hand, it was very sad to see him in such state. Losing the ball on countless occasions and ended up looking miles apart from the pace of the game. Just as well, he had a kick at Song and must count his lucky stars for not getting any cards for that. But I’m sure that reaction was caused by having Diaby getting at him throughout the whole game. In terms of effort, Diaby can’t be faulted today.
Robin Van Persie started and finished his first game since returning from his spell on the sidelines. Likes the rest of his team mates, he never got out of first gear. He had an oppourtunity to seal the game late on but his freekick floated just over the bar. There is still 2 more league games to go for him to find his fitness for the World Cup and clocking another 90 minutes won’t hurt him one bit. He even had a tasty retribution tackle reserved for Adebayor. It earned him a yellow but Van Persie wouldn’t mind that any bit.
No fireworks this time. City came to defend and we obliged. No one seemed to be upped for this game bar the defenders on both side of the white line. St. Totteringham day will have to be postponed for a little longer. Not the best of game for Arsenal but that is to be expected after the debacle last Sunday.
Till tomorrow. Thanks for reading.