Sunday, 15 December 2013

Man City 6-3 Arsenal: A humbling crash to reality


Losing this game sure was a possibility, but losing by that margin is downright unacceptable. A crazy game of football ended quite convincingly in their favour as they handed us a 6-3 pasting, to reduce our lead to only 2 points and increase the tension around Ashburton Grove.

It's better to analyze this game goal by goal, instead of mashing up the 90 minutes and missing out on a few moments. Aargh, here we go,

CITY 1-0 ARSENAL: What's irritating about this goal is that it came from a corner that wasn't a corner at all. Even so, when Demichielis flicked it on to the path of Aguero, Laurent really should've done better. Brilliant finish from Aguero nonetheless, and City arguably deserved to draw first blood, even though the best chance of the game had fallen to us through a miscued Jack volley.

CITY 1-1 ARSENAL: Something we badly needed, and something that was arguably gifted to us. Rambo stole the ball of Yaya Toure and fed a perfect ball to Ozil. It seemed for a moment that Mesut had wasted the chance by delaying to put a ball in, but he eventually found Walcott perfectly, who hit a first time strike past Pantilimon.

We really should've carried on from there. True, it was against the run of play, and City were imposing their authority. But isn't that what title winning teams do, get results by hook or by crook?

CITY 2-1 ARSENAL: After Negredo had curled wide after he was clean through, he made up for it just 5 minutes later, coolly slotting home a cross from Zabaleta. I was actually watching Zabaleta make that run and was practically yelling at Flamini to cover him. He didn't, Toure found him, and he played a simple enough ball for Negredo to restore their lead. Painful, but deserving.

CITY 3-1 ARSENAL: The goal that practically killed off the game for me. I was positively fuming when Ozil played a lazy pass on to the path of Flamini. When you're near the corner flag and under the pressure, just clear the ball, for Pete's sake!

Fernandinho picked it up and generously took the opportunity handed by us to bend it into the net. The goal looked fantastic, but in my opinion it was just too easy for him. We forget how talented footballers actually are until we see our talented defenders give them that much space. That goal was a clear example of how ruthless they could be if we allowed them that freedom, something we failed to pick up on.

CITY 3-2 ARSENAL: A good goal from Walcott, but we never would've got that goal had City not been so distracted defensively like we were throughout the game. Prior to the goal, Olivier Giroud had missed three presentable chances to take us to that fighting position, three misses which could've earned us a draw had Ollie not been so wasteful. While the need for another striker is becoming more and more obvious throughout each passing game, you can't really relate that with Giroud missing a free header and bottling a crossing opportunity.

CITY 4-2 ARSENAL: It was coming, really. After we got some hope through that Theo goal, they totally went at us, finding openings everywhere. We actually could've capitalized on that situation, possibly bringing Rosicky on and trying to hit them on the break. Jack was having a shocker, and his gesture towards the City fans didn't help either.

He left Nacho Monreal horribly exposed from time to time, which was a major factor in us conceding that goal. I think it was Navas who so easily got past Monreal and crossed it to Silva, who rocketed it in the roof. Vermaelen - who came on after Koscielny got stretchered off - really should've done better there, especially because David Silva was the only person in that danger zone.

It was another indicator of how little we seemed to care about what was going on around us. Everyone on that pitch was lazy, jaded and barely had any commitment to draw level, bar Theo and Ramsey.

CITY 5-2 ARSENAL: After a Wilshere piledriver was tipped over the bar by Pantilimon, Wenger inexplicably brought on Bendtner and Gnabry to make way for Giroud and Flamini. Yes, Giroud was having a bad game, but did anyone really think that Bendtner would be any better? We had Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky on the bench, yet he decided to get on Gnabry and Bendtner?! It was almost like he gave up.

Rather, I think he should've got Wilshere and Ramsey off to make way for Santi and Bendtner. With Ozil and Flamini in the center and Santi and Theo on the wings, we could've played Bendtner and Giroud up front and adopted a 4-4-2 system. I like the 4-4-2 because the two strikers in this formation can pull the center backs and create space, and in addition, Bendtner performs better when he has a support striker.

I have no clue what was the basis in Wenger's tactics there. All I know is right there he admitted defeat when I still believe that the game wasn't out of reach. While our defence was horrible, theirs was too. If we regrouped and defended as a unit, not to mention caught them on the break with Walcott's pace, we might've just got something from this game.

Oh, but no. We simply collapsed and gifted them yet another goal. Wilshere gave the ball away to Fernandinho, who played it to Nasri. He was desperate to get a goal against us, which was blindingly obvious, but he squared it to Fernandinho again, who chipped it over Szczesny after some appalling Mertesacker defending.

CITY 5-3 ARSENAL: Another goal that we snatched from a team that had no concentration in defence whatsoever. Sagna crossed it in and Mertesacker fired in a header to restore some pride in the score, at least for the time being.

Honestly, I felt sorry for Mertesacker yesterday. Yes, he wasn't the best defender in that game, but he was constantly trying to do better throughout, urging his teammates to carry on. Truth be told, he didn't deserve to be on the losing end of this one, but it was the other 10 players who failed him.

CITY 6-3 ARSENAL: Just when it can't get any worse, it did. Szczesny brought down Milner in the penalty area, and a spot-kick was fairly given. Szczesny got a yellow - which was fortunate - but at that time I don't think I cared. Yaya Toure dispatched the penalty away calmly, to cap off a nightmare for us.

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The team as a whole seemed distracted, and our newfound trait of defending as a unit was thrown out of the window. I have no idea why this Arsenal side was so disinterested, especially because we had so much incentive going into this match. The players were to blame, the manager was to blame and in the end, a whopping loss was what we deserved.

To cap it all, Ozil refused to applaud the away fans, instead choosing to walk straight down the tunnel. The BFG's reaction said it all there, and it was representative of my reaction too.

Look, I don't care if he's currently the face of Arsenal, I don't care if he's our X-factor or our Joker in the Pack, Ozil simply cannot pull off stunts like that. We've had enough talented players who haven't shown enough commitment and desire on the pitch in the past as it is, just ask Nasri, Arshavin or Adebayor. In this current Arsenal lineup, we have very few players who don't have the required amount of determination for the club. It's frustrating that our one out-and-out world class player, Mesut Ozil, is one of them.

This isn't a knee jerk reaction either. Ever since he has come to Arsenal, I haven't really seen any flair, commitment or desire from him. While it is undeniable that he's having a very good season so far (just look at his statistics!), I've not failed to notice how he gives up on a half-chance, or doesn't chase a loose pass from time to time.

There is a good chance that that may be down to being overplayed, which is why I want Wenger to rest him. In addition, even a player of Ozil's caliber shouldn't be guaranteed a start in the lineup, especially when we have Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky who can perform well in his place. Mertesacker's reaction to Ozil's disgraceful act was apt, and it's time that we - like the BFG - stop turning a blind eye to his falling levels of determination, just because he got here for £42m.

This was a freak result, one mainly caused due to shoddy, uncommitted defending and poor Wenger tactics. However, the title is by no means out of our reach for now, and we need to make sure it stays that way, starting with a top-of-the-table Chelsea clash 8 days later. Of course, we still have to look 'forward' to the Champions League draw tomorrow, which would undoubtedly set the tone for our European hopes.

Time to cool down our heads for 9 days, and then focus on a daunting Chelsea task. Until then, keep the faith.

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )