City Review: It Could Have Been Worse

Arsenal 2 – 2 Manchester City

A point is better than most expected, particularly after Leroy Sane opened the scoring in the fourth minute. A point shows how low expectations have become.

In the great scheme of things, whether it is a good point or a bad one, will only be known after the midweek games. If we win and City lose; you get the drift. A point didn’t change anything in the pursuit of the club’s aspirations for a top four finish.

The City goals were both poor to concede, as you might expect from Arsenal at the moment. Bellerin was undone by a combination of De Bruyne quick pass and Sane’s pace. The German rounded Ospina and slotted home; for twenty minutes, we were on the ropes. Not in the sense of constant pressure but from fear; City passed through the midfield too easily. But the players overcame the difficult phase and worked their way back into the game.

As with the first, the second City goal came from sloppy defensive work. Özil gave the ball away cheaply, while Xhaka lost Aguero by not paying attention. Ospina is getting flak for not stopping the shot which I can see why but six yards out, I expected the Argentine international to score, no matter the angle. A player of that calibre will do so from that range, more often than not.

The goals were a comedy of errors and whilst I’ve named individuals, it’s only to underline that one player isn’t the problem, there is a collective defensive issue. I’d say it’s confidence but even when we’re playing well, there’s always a feeling that we will concede at some point.

Stop Breaking Down

The woodwork saved us twice and let’s be honest, Monreal handled at the end. However, aside from the twenty minutes or so at the start, I didn’t think City ‘deserved’ to win. A draw was a fair result given the bizarrely supine second half. There was a lack of intensity from both sides when it came to carving out clear opportunities once Shkodran Mustafi equalised.

Twice Arsenal came back, twice scoring from unexpected sources. Theo Walcott grabbed the first, played onside by Gael Clichy. Prodding home from close range relieved the pressure on what to that point, had been a poor first half performance, fraught with anxiety.

Typically, we didn’t go into the break level with Aguero scoring a couple of minutes later. The concentration levels in the squad generally are very poor at the moment, a sure sign of stress. The fog of Arsène’s future is strangling the club at the moment, and while the manager is right that it shouldn’t impact performances, it’s got to be a contributing factor. An unwelcome distraction, if you like.

Overall, there isn’t much to say about the game itself. I think we went 30 minutes without a shot on goal at one point which gives a fair indication of the attritional nature of the second half. We saw why neither side is challenging for the title or Europe; the lack of a killer instinct. City, had they possessed it, would have been out of sight by half-time. I think they were there for the taking in the second. Maybe it sums up both clubs’ seasons.

Torn and Frayed

As it is, the result leaves us sixth, where we started the day, and in next season’s Europa League, with little hope of avoiding it given the FA Cup winners are all in European places at the moment. Indeed, we’re the only ones who could drop out but even we won’t collapse that monumentally. Surely?

It wasn’t a good day for the club. A match in which it’s important for supporters to remember David Rocastle, saw the player criminally overlooked by Arsenal. The night before a much-hyped – and excellent – documentary on the man was screened on television!

There’s no excuse for Arsenal’s behaviour; it just sums up the dismissal of the club’s past in favour of money. Arsenal, the Football club is dying, replaced by a soulless bastion of Mammon.

Ivan is as much culpable as anyone; his vacuous statement to the Fans Forum beggared belief. Still the club refuses to announce whether Wenger will continue to be manager to the point that even Bob Wilson, a man whose loyalty to the Arsenal is beyond question, said it was necessary for the answer to be known.

If they are waiting for a good time, that’s the twelfth of never. If they are waiting to put forward a change in structure, this should have been ready months ago. The impact of Wenger’s departure on the club, the way it operates was surely predicted by the board? It underlines their abdication of everything to do with managing the manager if he is the “catalyst for change”.

Street Fighting Man

As for the scuffles inside and outside the ground, have a word with yourselves. That’s not about Wenger In or Out, it’s not about players you love or loathe, it’s about you as a person. Get a grip. If you want to fight for something, go and face down facism in every form it surfaces. If you disagree about football, get a pint and debate it; exercise your minds and persuade.

And if you think they were fights, go and look on YouTube for videos of the terraces in the 70s and 80s.

But do us all a favour, and grow up.

’til Tomorrow.

78 thoughts on “City Review: It Could Have Been Worse

  1. YW, you forgot the Occasion of the Year Özil missed ! Or how can a player without having the ball miss a glorious chance to give the lead to his club? Ask the fans, they’ll know.

  2. Good Morning YW as you correctly cite had City taken there chances they’d have been out of sight.

    I thank thee again for the doc on Rocky and Wrighty. There is a moment when Dein himself says everything in football has a sell by date. He was of course referring to the decision to sell Rocastle.

    It applies to AW very much this day.

  3. Thanks Yogi a good summing up.

    Yesterday’s game was as predictable as rain on an English bank holiday. Slow out of the blocks, a goal down before half our team had touched the ball, a period of desperate defence followed by a gradual improvement leading to an equaliser. Then, most predictable of all, a total loss of concentration and a goal down almost instantaneously.

    With City showing a distinct lack of interest in actually winning the game, Mustafi, who must have watched the West Brom videos, made a late run at a corner and got a clear header which he put away nicely.

    From then on it looked as though both sides had settled for a draw, fear of losing? Certainly!

    From my vantage point, an armchair in front of the tele, the support for the players was exceptional.

    Wenger tried to imply that the mental strength of the team indicated that all was well and we could look forward to a great run in to the end of the season, that of course is total bollocks.

    Dropping two home points in, what Wenger himself said was a must win game, says only that there are deep fault lines which only a total change in management, coaching and tactics can cure.

    Wenger may have got himself a couple of days relief, but the situation remains the same, it’s time he went.

  4. What a great result for plucky little Arsenal!

    I have no doubt, whatever the doubters say, that we will not drop into the relegation spots.

  5. And I have no doubt that we are in next season’s Europa League. I’d find it depressing if we dropped to 7th and had to play the qualifying round but it would be somewhat Arsenal-ly to do so.

  6. Perfect headline for the game YW. I said exactly the same yesterday.

    A number of players hiding yesterday. If you were had no idea of players’ reputations and price tags you would have thought Xhaka and Ozil were fringe players shortly to be dropped. The level of their performances were so poor.

    I disagree about Ospina, he made himself look stupid for the Aguero goal. Bread and butter keeping.

    It’s getting nasty in the stands. Groups of fans goading each other on the way out of the stadium. Likely to get far worse.

  7. Pete

    Disagree from that close range, I expect a forward to score. It’s hard for a keeper to get down quickly for a low shot. The only way he might have saved it is with his feet but then the rebound can go anywhere.

  8. YW,

    Aguero was at a very tight angle, if Ospina had taken a step forward he would have cut off that angle, he might have been exposed on his near post but that would have left Aguero with an impossible shot.

  9. YW,

    I think Ospina could have made a better attempt, but the defensive cover on both goals was a shambles. At this stage I have lost interest in this season, finishing outside any of the European places wouldn’t bother me, and I’m not being vindictive here, no doubt others would disagree, regardless of weather Arsene stays or not it might be the catalyst for radical change in the club, but then again it might not.

  10. OK,

    If he’d taken a step forward, I’d agree the shot was difficult but chipping the keeper for one of the three City players in the box to attack, was the option then and while we had defenders in there, would they have stopped it going in. Not convinced at all.

  11. With the likes of Coquelin, Xhaka and Ozil starting our games, we shouldn’t have expected a better results yesterday. Arsenal has to buckle up otherwise it is goodbye to champions league football next season. May be that would be great, if it will just get Arsene Wenger off our backs.

  12. Good stuff Yogi and completely agree about all the fighting, but it all seemed to have a sort of “inevitability” about it happening.

    I think the 2nd half was all summed up by the substitutions, take off Theo who looked most likely to score and bring on Giroud, then you take off Welbeck and put on Iwobi. Head scratching, yet predictable.

  13. I saw desire yesterday, hunger,Fight and enthusiasm and a will to win…. Anyway enough about the fans the team were still pretty poor again.

  14. And the fighting with ArsenalFan TV, well that I think was also something that was always set to happen.

  15. Have to confess, I stopped watching after Xhaka’s yellow card, Coquelin had his by that time and no shot on goal….seen it all before, and bored shitless by it.
    Apathy is all thats left, but I can’t let go, perhaps I need help.

  16. No one celebrated with him though C. Shocking. We can’t even be arsed to celebrate scoring now… Or was it coz it was theo. I don’t think he is liked. Bloody spirit in the side is piss poor.

  17. A simple truth struck me yesterday.

    Leroy Mane or Kevin de Bruyne excited me more yesterday than our whole team collectively. Every time they got on the ball I was excited to see what they would produce, actually willing them to do something spectacular.

    That’s a sad thing to admit.

  18. Dukey,

    I saw that and its a real fucking shame. Probably disliked because he was actually putting forth some effort, probably the reason Arsene subbed him off; can’t be having to many players out there capable of scoring best to bring on Iwobi (who I like but is not a goal scorer) and Giroud…

  19. What the hell is Arsene doing?
    He has obviously already decided to stay – but is he just banking on winning the FA cup and announcing he is staying then, in the warm glow of victory or is he waiting for us to win a couple of games in succession in the league?
    Does you think the fans are stupid enough not to see through this?
    An appalling state of affairs

  20. C,

    Don’t forget Iwobi put in a sterling PR shift this week.

    Bigged up Wenger (Like a Dad!) and pointed out that there were indeed leaders all over the pitch.

    Cap’n Iwobi

  21. DFS-,

    So very very true, I won’t condemn Iwobi too much but when first Theo was taken off and then Welbeck, it pretty much meant we were going for the draw.

  22. Afternoon YW. Well top 6 is most definitely the best we can possibly hope for now.

    Things are just all out of sync Arsenal football club the powers that be have to deal with the raging massive pink elephant in the room.

    Things off the field will only continue to spiral out of control if we keep they keep doing their best Ostrich impression.

    On the game I am shocked at how Hector is regressing as a player for me he was at complete fault for the opening goal, I also don’t blame Ospina for the 2nd goal, whats he supposed to do when Aguero is 8 yards away from goals and ball is blasted no time to dive it would have been a great instinctive save if stopped that effort. I can only blame Xhaka who for some inexplicable reason chooses to amble on towards one of Cities most dangerous players whilst always seeing what danger he posed.

    The 2nd goal is an indictment of how dysfunctional our midfield really is, its not the 1st time this king of goal has been scored against us and whilst the status quo remains it won’t be the last.

    Sad times indeed for our club, once renowned for doing things the right way.

  23. Lets no forget that Ospina was saved by the post on De Bruyne’s shot that clearly had him beat.

    I want to be positive so I thought Nacho was really good yesterday and Theo from the off looked up for it.

  24. Also on the sub of Theo I too was shocked. Ozil again didn’t have his best game and neither did Welbeck if truth be told, you looking win the game and you bring on Iwobi who is a talented player but hardly one who is going to get you a goal when your back’s up against a wall. I honestly though it would be Ozil and Welbeck that would have been replaced by Iwobi and Giroud. Like c said clearly happy with point.

  25. Afternoon,

    Wenger’s announcement is due after the season ticket renewal deadline to ensure that there isn’t any fall out in season ticket sales when they announce he has signed the new contract. Want to make sure every penny they can get comes in the door if they are going to pay him £10m next season.

    It was only a matter of time before there was fighting among the fans outside the ground at home games. If its inside the stadium the BoD and manager might actually take notice.

  26. Whoever is in charge next year has to work out how to make sure the midfield provides adequate support for the defense, whilst also capable of performing swift transitions from interception to counterattack, because lets face it we are just not very good at the swift transition at the moment.

  27. The fixture list looks depressing too i see us taking only 12-15 points from the remaining games. Anyone who thinks better hasn’t been watching enough of us of late.

  28. Wavey,

    The fighting was taking place in the ground yesterday too. Quite a few scuffles in the North Bank.

    I actually spoke to 2 of the perpetrators of the ‘attack’ on Arsenal TV in the pub after the game. They seemed pretty happy with their endeavours. I wasn’t really sure what they were going on about but I have looked at the footage online and sure enough there they are.

  29. What’s really interesting is the fact that outside of Ozil, Xhaka and Sanchez, it didn’t seem like most of the players wanted to celebrate Mustafi’s goal. Just saw a couple still images were you can see Sanchez telling the rest of the team to come celebrate.

  30. Great review Yogi

    It tells you have bad things have gotten when we are happy with a home draw. The little engine that could. Plucky small teams like Arsenal can’t be expected to win against the big boys.

  31. Silver

    Don’t be surprised if we put together a strong end of the season run that will put us into contention for that last top 4 spot. The schedule is tough but Arsene has been here and done this several times in the last 12 years. We have to win about 7 games and hope that 2 out of 4 from the group of ManU, ManCity, Liverpool and Spurs collapse.

  32. Yogi

    If Leicester wins the Champions league they an automatic spot in the group stages next season. Would that take away one of Englands spots or would England get a 5th CL spot? The Spurs finished 4th in 2012 and missed the CL because Chelsea won.

    Same question if ManU win the Europa league and finish outside of the top 4. Would the team that finishes 4th miss out or would England get 5 teams in the CL?

  33. With Kos out, I have to say that while most don’t have faith in Gabriel, I think Kos needed to be dropped and I think that Gabriel will be and do fine.

  34. I hate to admit this but I honestly believe the best thing that could happen would be to miss the CL. Arsene needs something to stick a hot poker up his bum and shock us out of the malaise that has evolved. For better or worse Stan will do whatever Arsene asks and like it or not pulling off another miracle finish and ending up in 4th would be the excuse everyone needs to maintain the status quo.

  35. Reports say Fenerbache are chasing Ospina again and a deal could happen. If that happens then bringing back Sczcney has to be a no brainer.

  36. Bill,

    As a nation, you cannot ever have more than 4 teams in CL.

    If CL winners finish outside top four, they take 4th place. The team finishing 4th drops into EL. Don’t know about EL but assume it’s the same.

  37. Bill,

    Other than the next 3 EPL games i think we are going to struggle to pick up the points, I would have to be some kind of turn around in defending or we start scoring for fun. Other than West Ham City and Boro’ i honestly don’t see us picking up more points based on current form.
    Tough reading when you look at it in the cold light of day….

    5 Apr – Premier League – Arsenal vs West Ham
    10 Apr – Premier League – Crystal Palace vs Arsenal
    17 Apr – Premier League – Middlesbrough vs Arsenal
    23 Apr – FA Cup Semi-final – Arsenal vs Man. City
    26 Apr – Premier League – Arsenal vs Leicester City
    30 Apr – Premier League – Tottenham vs Arsenal
    7 May – Premier League – Arsenal vs Man United
    13 May – Premier League – Stoke City vs Arsenal
    21 May – Premier League – Arsenal vs Everton

  38. OK so Southampton & Sunderland are postponed Sunderland game should be a win in normal circumstances but these are not normal circumstances.

  39. Silver

    You are right the fixture list looks daunting but Arsene has been the great escape artist with regard to holding his run of top 4 finishes. History tends to repeat itself. I realize we have been miserable in 2017 but Arsene’s desire to maintain the status quo is very strong and I still 1/2 expect him to pull off a miracle.

  40. Bill,

    Nope, just the ones that are or could be 😉

    I mean even jokingly, he can’t be as bad as Kos has been over the last 15 matches.

  41. Yogi

    In 15/16 Spain had Barca, Real, Atletico, Sevilla, and Valencia in the CL group stages. Either Sevilla or Valencia won the Europa league but finished outside of the top 4 and Spain got a 5th team.

    ManU may be the favorite to win the Europa league and I suspect they will finish outside of the top 4 which I think would give England a 5th team. That gives Arsene a bit more wiggle room.

  42. silvergunner,


    The thing is, the clubs we have left on the fixture list aren’t clubs that we normally steam roll outside of maybe Boro and possibly Sunderland. Southampton always give us trouble, Everton will more than likely be a match that decides their European fate and Lukuka has been nothing short of a beast all season, Mourinho no matter who he manages or his teams form is Arsene’s kryptonite, Leicester will be interesting, Spuds will be difficult, and Stoke are the great unknown.

    The other thing that we simply won’t know is just how bad the atmosphere around Arsenal will be; on its current trajectory it will be crazy toxic and how will it affect the players.

  43. C:

    The whole team has been rubbish on the defensive end but I think its a bit harsh to single out Kos in this case.. You could argue that Kos was the only thing holding us together against Munich. I know you want to give Gabriel the benefit of the doubt but we totally fell apart in both games when Gabriel came on and at least in those games Gabriel looked far worse then Kos.

  44. Bill,

    Bill he has pulled off some Houdini like escapes in the past but this one would be the most miraculous of all.

  45. Bill,

    Lets also be honest, part of the reason we fell apart against Munich at the Emirates is because of Kos or am I mistaken? the only reason I singled out Kos’ form is because he has been quite poor leading to quite a few goals. The thing is, he is supposed to be and should hold the responsibility that both Sanchez and Ozil do and his form has been dreadful.

    Against Bayern, the gulf in class was evident no matter if Kos was on the pitch or not. Lets be honest here, Bayern were cruising through both matches and when they wanted to turn it up a couple of levels, we were always going to get slaughtered.

  46. Bill,

    imho Gabriel is looks like championship defender in a premier league team, honestly surprised Holding is never given the nod as he looks more composed and a better reader of the game than his Brazilian team mate again just my opinion but Gabriel just doesn’t fill me with any kind of confidence.

  47. C,

    C you are right Kos has been poor but so has Mustafi who IMO is not top class, surely its Wenger job to get players through bad patches and dropping them isn’t always the answer, Gabriel looked a beast when he joined but hasn’t progressed maybe another failure of the coaching, yesterday and previously there is little cover from midfield Bellerin was done by pace yesterday but where were the midfield

  48. What is it with this endless list of ex arsenal players lecturing us about being careful what we wish for, that wenger is arsenal/made arsenal etc… almost every case they left to win things, mid contract, yet they lecture the fans on being impatient and being loyal. And people say footballers are daft. I suppose they owe wenger one for building them a career and then not holding them hostage. but frankly i couldnt care what the current squad have to say let alone an EX player… beggars belief.
    Agree with DFS above the whole shebang is deeply uninspiring.
    And what the hell is going on when they cant even celebrate….strange times….i flip and flop on this one but the atmos. yesterday, the non celebrations, his ‘sad’ interview tone which reminded me of post bayern… all has the feel of him leaving. Unless of course everyone is massively depressed because he’s staying on !

  49. Buckagh poor Gabriel, poor mustafi they have like many before them for many years now been sucked into the non progression vortex that is the arsenal bermuda talent triangle. it’s a bloody mystery what happens to half these players….who was the last signing in say last five years who really progressed as a footballer……i cannot think of or find a single example.

  50. The players whose performances have really fallen off the cliff compared to the past years have been Ozil, Le coq and Bellerin

  51. Silver

    This would be Arsene’s greatest escape of all time. However, don’t underestimate the motivation Arsene has to give a double barrel middle finger salute to all of the non-believers.

  52. It’s funny how some think some of the players are playing to get Wenger out. How many of them stands to benefit from AW getting the boot? Not many I suppose…maybe they just aren’t good enough. Wenger in or out, I no longer care. Worst case scenario he stays on for two more years. I’ve been fortunate enough to have enjoyed some of his better teams that I can’t bring myself to wish him anything but good health. I really hope he leaves on a high and I honestly don’t believe an additional two years with Wenger will get us into the Championship. Be realistic folks, nobody gets to spend 20 years in a Top job like this and then suddenly get the sack. Arsene’s won’t be any different. Chill out with all the toxicity and negative vibes, just throwing tantrums that’s all. Even though I’m all for change, the toxicity is ruining the club inside out. Our players even seem to find it difficult to celebrate FFS!

  53. Bill,
    Ozil’s commitment and desire leave a lot to be desired, but he is not managed in the way he was at Real and Arsenal haven’t got the best from him. Le Coq was basically out the door, and out of necessity he was brought back, grabbed that lifeline for a few months but has reverted back to mediocre at best, Bellerin is class, and is still a great prospect, and will get over this dip in form, I’d say he is high on many top clubs wish lists

  54. buckagh,

    I tend to agree with you about Gabriel, but that seems to be the running narrative with really only Nacho being a defender that Arsene has brought in that hasn’t regressed and Bellerin has done pretty well. Kos hasn’t looked right and I think his struggles and poor form is something that you both don’t think and expect him to bounce out of since so many think he is not only one of the best in the PL but all of Europe. The midfield pivots are a right mess at present, they don’t seem to fit together and Le Coq has gone full blown Song on us minus the actual ability to create.

  55. I agree with Buffalo.

    Clichy obviously still thinks a lot of Arsene….as he gave us a leg up yesterday with the type of totally shit defending we were used to seeing in his days with us.

    It seems everyone who left for money & or medals now think they can stick their oar in & tell us to put up with this crap. I don’t think so.

  56. Who cares what current or ex players think or say, current players are motivated by their lucrative contracts and will do or say anything to maintain them, except it seems give their absolute best on the pitch.

  57. buckagh,

    Bellerin is not class.
    He’s a one trick pony…..speed.
    He cannot defend for toffee…….and his downturn was oddly…after he signed a nice new contract,same as Le Coq.
    The club must be too nice and breeds complacency from its players.
    They clearly are not bollocked for their misgivings often enough-they just give opinions at press conferences.
    Bellerin is frequently out of position-but his pace gets him out of the shit.His tackling isn’t consistent enough and his final ball is more than often shite.
    If Barca want him-let him go.He’s a defenders version of Theo as a forward.
    Please don’t give me the ‘he’s young and still learning ‘ bollocks-none of the top teams have a crèche-they have finished articles in their positions,not work in progress.

  58. Bill,

    The problem being I do not think Wenger/Arsenal missing out on the CL will be anything like a hot poker up the arse.

    He is already reframing the debate – at a presser last week he volunteered the CL was less important as the increased TV money covered CL earnings.

    I think he already accepts an EL place will provide European football and a ‘wonderful’ adventure and my guess is a remaining core ambition (perhaps the only one) this season is to keep Man United behind us.

    Some would argue the FA Cup a true goal – I am not so sure after last years limp exit with a three-peat for the taking. He’ll take it of course, and would big it up endlessly but he knows for credibility, it has to be the PL or CL.

  59. Jeeze…just saw I wrote Leroy Mane instead of ‘Leroy Sane’ earlier…

    By the by, Bellerin has dialed it in for the better part of this season and his final ball seldom amounts to anything. He needs to be re-booted.

    Sane absolutely schooled him for the first goal yesterday. Sane gave him a lesson, some tuition the likes of which he is not getting form Wenger or Bould.

    And…in relation to the Guardian article (to which some Arsenal fans took exception to in the BTL comments naturally) Man City’s defense has been crap. However, people forget the Gabriel Jesus and İlkay Gündoğan both suffered bad injury set backs which have hampered City’s season dramatically.

    Jesus looked electifying for his initial games and if those two were healthy my guess would be City would be up with Spurs at least.

  60. Did people notice the reaction from bould when city scored their second. It was a Ffs no one at this club will ever learn or listen to me, I’ve tried telling them all but no its like I’m Banging my head against a brick wall…..why do I even bother…..

  61. Bould had a reaction? I have never seen him move or speak.

    He makes Pat Rice seem hyperactive.

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