Arsenal 0-0 Manchester City. You’ll be forgiven if you fell asleep!

So with last week’s surprise defeat at Wigan all but ending our title challenge, there isn’t much left to play for this season. But with third place not yet safe, it’s important not to lose any games. And as luck would have it, we were playing a team in Manchester City, who are chasing fourth and who’d be in a position to take third from us, were we to slip-up. Very important not to lose to them. And with the return of 3 of our ex-players- Toure, Vieira, Ade- adding extra spice, losing wasn’t an option.

Team news for the game saw Fabianski retain his place in goal, RvP come in for Bendtner, and the returning Song for Eastmond. With Robin and Song back in, the team seemed much stronger! As for City, Vieira and Toure were in the starting XI, with Ade unsurprisingly only on the bench.

As for the game, in all honesty it was nothing to write home about. I thought it was going to be open, or that at least there’d be a couple of goals in it. As you probably know, it finished 0-0. Not the interesting type of 0-0 with loads of chances, but the boring type, with very very few chances. The goal-keepers were hardly troubled. Manchester City were ultra-defensive, it was surprising. They had no attacking intent, except to hit us on the break, but we never let them, really. They defended really well, and so did we.

We had a few half-chances in the first half, but nothing of note. The first shot on target came in the second half, a weak Rosicky shot which Given gathered easily. The match only livened up in the second half, when Ade came on and obviously not for football reasons. He came on as a replacement for Vieira, and the contrast in reception was unbelievable. Vieira was cheered by the whole stadium (although a few of his tackles weren’t impressive), whereas Ade was booed, ofcourse. His every touch was. That was the only bit of excitement in the game, unfortunately. But at least, there was something to remember the game by!

Arsene took off Theo and Rosicky for Eboue and Bendtner and although there was a slight improvement, it wasn’t a lot. It was a bit ironic that the closest we got to scoring, led to an injury to the goal-keeper! Diaby hit a shot from outside the box and looked like it was headed for the low right corner, but for Shay Given’s out-stetched arm. He dislocated his shoulder the process, unfortunately. He was treated on the pitch for about 6-7 minutes before he was stretchered off. Sad sight, and crefit to our fans, as everyone gave him a round of applause as he left. He was replaced by Gunnar Nielsen, making his first team debut. It was hilarious, his name being ‘Gunnar’ (Gunner) and what would have capped it off would have been an own-goal or a Flap-ianski moment! Well, that didn’t happen, ofcourse.

Robin had a good chance with a free-kick in his type of territory, but his chipped effort was just wide. The ‘keeper was nowhere near it! A few more half-chances here and there, and it was full-time. Watching th highlights on ATVO and Match of the Day, it’s nothing short of a miracle that they were able to find 10-15minutes worth of highlights.

So it was a poor game, but the atmosphere at the game was brilliant. The referee was a bit rubbish to be honest. I thought  City fouled us more, but they only got 2 bookings, whereas we got 4! Our attack might have been blunted, but we defended really well. I thought City would have offered more attack-wise, but we defended resolutely and the likes of Tevez and Bellamy were hardly in the game. Song was brillaint, as usual. So was Sol. The big surprise was Silvestre, as he was excellent. Someone made the point that maybe it was his United loyalties coming to the fore, but either way, it worked for us! Fabianski didn’t have much to do, but the little he had to do, he did well. That would have helped his confidence immensely. Robin got 90 minutes under his belt and although he was a bit rusty, those were valuable minutes.

There were a couple of interesting tussles in the first half between Diaby v Vieira and Song v Vieira. Song and Diaby ofcourse came out on top which was great to see, but sad at the same time, it being Vieira! Im really struggling with what else to say about the game, as there isn’t much. It had an end-of-the-season feel to it which in our case, it really was. Incidentally, a draw mathematically ends our title challenge. It was fun when it lasted. Don’t really care who wins it now, to be honest!

Here’s Arsene’s reaction to the game:

“It was an afternoon I am not used to because we created very few chances and Man City didn’t create anything. They were highly focussed on defending well. They didn’t give us any space and we could not find the opener. For as long as we couldn’t do that it was a locked game basically. There were very few chances. It was two teams who played well defensively, had very good discipline but created very few chances.”

On Robin:

“He was sharp for 60 minutes, 70 minutes. After he dropped physically, I left him on because I thought we can only win on set pieces today and that he could score a free kick or give a corner that could allow us to score. But overall he was very sharp, in the first half especially. But for having been out for such a long time it is quite positive.”

And on the forever-impressive Sol:

“Maybe you should take him to South Africa!”

…Since he has been in the team he has been outstanding. I never expected that from him and that is great credit to him. You can compare him with any centre-back in the League. He has been very, very good.”

On Fabianski:

“I believe it was important that he can play a game without having a lack of concentration. Today he was spot on from the first to the last minute. He read all the situations very well and that is what you want from him. I always said he is one of the most talented goalkeepers and when he gets the concentration right he will get there.”

He’s spot-on about Fabianski; he just needs to work on his concentration levels. I do hope Sol gets a new contract though, as he’s been brilliant for us since he joined and his experience will always be valuable.

But yeah, 2 games to go until the end of the season- one away at Blackburn (a toughie) and the last, home to Fulham. It’d be great if we got 6 points from both, but whatever happens, it’s not been a disastrous season even though it’s seemed that way a few times, not least last week! It can only get better!

Onwards and upwards…

  • devday

    Spot on with your analysis Debs – one thing I thought was very strange was the general level of refereeing – it was really bad – Mike Dean carded Arsenal players for every challenge they made and failed to even award free kicks for similar challenges from the opposition. At one point Bellamy struck Alex Song in the face – definite red – but not even a yellow was given…

    Alex Song in my eyes was the player of the game, he is just so good. So damn good, it’s unbelievable. He’s the first on the team sheet along side Cesc when they’re fit.

    Sol and Silvetre both played really well. Mikael is known for making errors, but he looked like he was playing for a new contract! Had Tevez in his pocket all day long. (Please, Arsene don’t give him a new contract, his mistakes in Wigan, Barcelona ans Sp*rs were testimony for his capabilities)…

    But Sol was outstanding, and at 35, I just don’t know how he does it. He should go to South Africa – I’d rather have him in the team than Terry who is in his worst form of the last 5 years. I’d love to see Gallas, Djourou, Sol and Vermaelen all at the club next year alongside someone like Cahill. We’ll see what Arsene has in store.

    Debs, as you said, it was vital that we didn’t lose. It looks like third place is ours now… but what a different season it could have been!

  • Nick

    100% agree with you devday. The officiating yesterday was absolutely terrible. Mike Dean should be ashamed of himself for his performance. There was a complete lack of equality to the foul calling. I was in shock that Bellamy got away with slapping Song in the face right in front of Mike and there was not even a yellow. He also clearly missed a few calls that would’ve given us some very opportunistic free kicks.

  • Pissed off

    “He’s spot-on about Fabianski; he just needs to work on his concentration levels” Debs I don’t share with your sentiment here. He was rarely threatened; you guys seem to be protecting him despite his obvious and annoying flaws. It’s important to share with you guys that before Van da sar came to Manu, they where shit in the goal keeping area ( Carrol and Howard), not that the keepers are shit, but they cant handle pressure of being in a big club;hence the ever sharp minded Fergie spotted the problem and made the buy that has made the difference for his club ( that is sound mind).

    Its very important to have a trusted and reliable number 1. His name comes first in the sheet and should epitomise confidence. When you look closely; the West-Ham(away), Wigan, Tottenham, Man u (away), Porto games were lost due to basic goal keeping errors; the list is way too much for me as a fan to bear. So what am saying is the importance of getting a new experienced goal keeper; that you can rely on. Look at Fredel, Given and co. jaaskelainen is not far off.

  • Debs

    But Fabianski isn’t No. 1, though, Pissed Off. Huge difference between No. 1 and No. 2, these days…

  • Pissed off

    Debs Is not just about Fabianski, but the goal keeping part of the club as a whole; Aluminia was in the Spurs and Man u game, Mannone was in the West Ham. Point being that Wenger has to win something next season and for him to have a shot priority should be replacing the Number 1 with experience and beefing up the defence and possibly attack; he should also try as much as possible to improve our creative options from the flank. Its difficult to say for me, but I think we need a very dynamic winger; may be Mr hazard; am really getting bored of our one dimensional attack with Walcott or the over possession of the ball (with players like Nari and Diaby) without any concrete penetration or movement. I know we have Fab and Ramsey in the creative field, but that is as good as we get; its really bad especially knowing we had, Pires, Bergkamp, Viera, Kanu and Henry(a goal machine)as icons barley five years ago. AS I type Chelsea are hammering Stoke 6-0 exactly the kind of result you would associate with our team of old; where did it exactly go wrong; your guesses could be better than mine.

  • Pissed off

    Oh its 7 to the Chelski; I rather they win the league than Manu; however either way we are screwed; because in one hand they are redeeming the image of premier league and in the other hand they are taking that our pride of being London’s best club away from us and above all will be equalling Wenger’s 3 title claim which won’t be good for my health.

  • Gooner Get Ya

    Talking gk’s the rumour is that we are preparing a bid for Reina not a bad shout IMO. A seasoned pro in the premier league. Not sure if the scousers would sell him though as he has recently signed a contract.

  • Francis

    i agree with you pissed off…

    wenger needs to look at the goal keeping dept…either the back room staff needs shaking up or get a reliable and experienced keeper… or both!!!

    i’ve said that when theo playys against defenders who read the game he is rendered useless…all you have to do as a left back is to sit deep…why cos theo doesnt know how to work the ball…and when he tries 1 or 2 things happen…he runs and leaves the ball behind…or he kicks the ball too far ahead which goes out of play….

  • Kuka

    @Pissed off:- I do share your views and like every other fan, we do have areas in our team that needs strengthening. My piece of advice? Please do indulge in speculating about transfers (coming and who is going), cos that is where you loose your good health. Transfers is the most secretive department at Arsenal. We might speculate for all we care and run by each rumor in the newspaper, then end up frustrated come August, 2010. My fear is that Arsene has decided which department he wants to “reinforce”, and he probably knows whether he wants to reinforce using external
    resources on the transfer Market, or internally from the reserves. Up and until a forum is created where interests of the fans can be heard in as far as player reinforcements are concerned, I won’t bother with speculating, as that will make you loose your hair.

    ……Does our management seat down with our captain to really hear his views on possible areas of the team that could be strengthened? Insider information reveals that among all the top clubs in England, captains do play a key role in transfers. Anyone know if this happens at AFC? Because I think, it would be a great idea.

    ……..I would rather Chelsea wins the league, than United. I hate both city and spurs, so if it was upto me, I’d rather Villa came forth and Liverpool fifth, but not seeing that happen…

  • Kuka

    *please do NOT

  • Pissed off

    Am only asking for Honesty and genuineness to the fans and not hiding the transfer like we are going to steal the money away from the club.

  • Yemi

    There are still going to be 3 very interesting games this season and that will be city vs villa, liverpool vs chelsea and city vs spurs.

    1.) villa are currently 5th (64pts) so there next game against city in 6th (63pts) should be a cracker.
    2.) Liverpool are 2 points behind 4th with 62pts. So they still have a chance of making fourth position. That will make the anfield game a cracker against chelsea who need to win to retain top spot.
    3. City vs spurs = 4th vs 6th (64pts vs 63pts) at least as at today. That should be another cracker.

    Are liverpool gonna do and arsenal and nick fourth spot on the last day of the league ?

    Beyond those 3 games, I am already looking forward to the world cup and next season since the transfer window is a no go area. Only arsene knows what will happen in the transfer window so i don’t want to engage myself in any speculations or rumours this window. It is not good for my health any longer.

  • Sam

    I’m quoting:

    Arsenal handed Cesc Fabregas an unprecedented £3 million ‘golden handcuffs’ payment and upped his wages by nearly 50 per cent to £110,000-a-week to keep him at the club, UK can reveal today.

    The incredible package, which is believed to have been formalised last summer after lengthy negotiations, was agreed to compensate the Spaniard for his relatively ‘below-par’ salary.

    It made Fabregas the highest-paid player in Arsenal’s history and has given the club hope that he will once again ignore advances from the Continent this summer and stay at Emirates Stadium.

    In 2006, Fabregas signed an eight-year contract, which was worth an initial £60,000-per-week with annual increments built in.

    But the player and his agent Darren Dein began talks in 2008 to renegotiate the terms of the deal with the club to reflect his growing status as one of the finest young players in the world. UK understands that the board were so desperate to hang on to the player they signed from Barcelona at 16 that they finally sanctioned an unprecedented deal to not only increase his salary from £80,000-per-week to £110,000-a-week but also back-date his pay for two years to compensate him for being underpaid over that period compared to other elite Premier League players.

    The result was the player received a one-off sum, equivalent to a signing-on-fee, of around £3m, which was effectively £1.5m, or £30,000-a-week, for each of those two years.