MAN CITY 6 ARSENAL 3
Three very difficult fixtures in six days is a lot to ask, especially when the third and final game is Man City away. Their home form has been exceptional this season and sadly it proved one game too many, with The Arsenal suffering a 6-3 defeat.
In terms of the match itself, where to begin?! There’s been a lot of dissection over the last few days, so here’s just a few of my thoughts summarised:
Starting eleven: I was surprised Arteta didn’t start the game or come on as a half time substitute. His positional play and defensive discipline are second to none. If ever there was a game for the Arteta / Flamini axis this was surely it?
Too many errors: there were individual errors and collective errors. After months of excellent defensive work we decided to unleash all our errors in one game, against a quality opponent who punished us severely. There were misplaced passes, wasted opportunities (the Giroud header and failed cross), poor marking, not tracking runners. It was a bad day at the office (to say the least) and you have to think fatigue (both mentally and physically) played a large part. Hopefully it means we’ve used up all our mistakes in one go!
Theo Walcott: it was great to have Theo back in the team this weekend; he was the one real positive. His movement was excellent, his pace always troubles defenders, and his two goals (the second in particular) were outstanding. He has a good scoring record against Chelsea, so more of the same on Monday please Theo.
Officials: they had a shocker, especially the linesmen (or Assistant Referees as they’re now called). In the first half we had two potential goal scoring opportunities stopped by incorrectly raised flags. In the second half we had two goals disallowed due to incorrectly raised flags. And we should have had a penalty for handball.
In summary, we scored three goals, we could have had about eight, and yet we never once really looked like we’d get a result. For me that kind of sums up just how bad an afternoon it was. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. However, and it’s a big however, we are still top of the league by two points. Let’s not forget that.
The draw for the Last 16 of the Champions League took place yesterday and we drew Bayern Munich.
It’s a glamour tie, what this tournament is all about. We won in Munich last season and beat Dortmund in the group stage, so we know we can beat the best if we put our minds to it. The games don’t take place until February and March though and given so much can change between now and then (form, fitness, January transfers) I’ve decided not to concern myself too much with this tie until nearer the time.
I’d like to know who creates the fixture lists and how. We had a run of Liverpool, Dortmund, United. We’ve just played Everton, Napoli, and Man City in the space of six days, with Chelsea on the horizon. In February we have Liverpool, United, a possible FA Cup 5th Round tie, and Bayern back to back. And then in April we have Bayern, 5pur2, and Chelsea (all away) back to back, followed by the small matter of City at home.
These kind of runs seem to happen to us every season and yet I can’t think of one of our title rivals who faces such a run during their campaigns; not even once, never mind four times!! It’s a joke.
Two of our worst league performances this season have been away to United and City. Both were at the end of a gruelling run of fixtures and both resulted in poor performances and defeats that significantly closed our gap over them when we could have significantly extended our leads; an old cliché but real six pointers. My main fear now is that come May, when the title is decided, these top of the table clashes may be pivotal and could potentially cost us dear, and we’ll have played a large percentage of them feeling knackered. I hope I’m proved wrong.
In view of the above, Monday night is a must win game. It’s one of the rare occasions this season where we’ll face a fellow title contender off the back of 9 days rest and preparation. Furthermore, the game is at home. We’ve beaten 5pur2 and Liverpool at home (and drawn with Everton), so if we can keep winning the big games at home then the defeats away from home should have less of an impact come the end of the season.
And even if we weren’t in the title race it would still be a must win game because it’s Chelsea. I fucking hate them. We all do. From the owner, to the manager, to their captain, to their players they are all despicable human beings. And for that reason alone I want to beat them.
We may well go in the game in third place (if Liverpool and City win their weekend fixtures), but let’s make sure we finish it top again. Come on you Gunners. Up The Arsenal!!!