At times Arsenal were like a red rash down our middle and back yesterday; very much expected, of course, and that’s one of the reasons to be very 'pleased with' and 'proud of' our performance & players yesterday.
Let’s get some 'minuses' out of the way…
I had an inkling that Frank Lampard would make his debut yesterday. However, I thought he might be 'eased in' and come on as a hopeful ‘impact substitution’ to either set up or nick a goal. Instead he was thrown straight into a fast-paced and compact midfield…and he just couldn’t cope. We’ll see better from Frank in a City shirt I’m sure of it.
Fernandinho still looks a little off-pace; he deserved his yellow card and, in general, just wasn’t as effective as his slightly shorter named, midfield colleague would have been. Not a terrible performance but we were looking for someone to attempt to stem the tide a little better yesterday. Again, he’ll improve throughout the season I have no doubt.
4 yellows in one game is a considerable amount to take so early on in the season - we could do without Pablo and, especially with our ‘striker situation’, Sergio having to endure a game ban.
It wasn’t a particularly dirty game – although I’m starting to see some ‘cheating elements’ to Jack Wilshere’s game – and I think, instead, 7 cards between both sides shows how competitive and frantic it was; particularly in midfield.
Pellegrini made a point of this in his post-match interview where he appeared to be considerably irked about decisions not going for us (leading to their 2 goals); commenting also about the fact that we were shown too many yellow cards in his opinion. By his standards it was practically a refereeing rant!
For ‘the negatives’…that’s about it really.
Late night viewing
Having got back from a wedding (minus the evening ‘do’ part) at 7:00pm; by the time we’d ‘sorted stuff out’ it was almost 9:00pm before I started to watch the game. And my viewing started with a personal victory in that I’d managed to go through the whole day without knowing the result! Of course there was a media (phone & radio blackout) but there were enough Blues, reds & neutrals there to ‘let it slip’. They didn’t.
Didn’t Arsenal just ‘bluster’ their way through the middle? It was like a souped-up, red & white battering ram at times; not much to their width-play at all but they were through our midfield and ‘at’ our defence time and time and time…and time again.
Kompany was immense! If it wasn’t for one over exuberant moment in the second half that lead to one of their goals his 9/10 performance would have made a 9.5. Apart FROM that one mistake [that saw him out of position as Arsenal scored] his defensive work was phenomenal; he was only missing a ‘cherry on’ goal to push him to a 10 for me. The watching Eliaquim Mangala must be rubbing his hands to get his chance of playing next to ‘our skip’…
But it’s Demichelis who ‘has that particular shirt’ at the moment and although I’m sure we’ll see Eliaquim make his debut at Bayern on Wednesday night; Martin deserves to keep his spot against
the following Sunday. Chelsea
Should Mangala put in a Kompany-like performance against the German side – and I hope he does of course – Demichelis might, however, find himself a little unlucky to be left out at home to Jose’s men just 4 days later. I say that because he’s had a very solid start to the season [on the back of a decent last third of last season] and I, personally, find the M.E.N.’s rating and comments a little harsh following yesterday’s game. All things considered about the afore mentioned attacking Arsenal midfield - as well as his age / lack of pace - I thought Martin did remarkably well. A solid 7/10 from me.
Clichy & Zaba too deserve plenty of defensive plaudits; Navas down the right in attack continued his very fine form (good tactics from our manager to pick him for this one). And what a classy finish from Aguero.
Milner did his "argument" no harm at all yesterday either.
Hands up who'd have thought, last season (or this for that matter), that you'd see Scott Sinclair being named on the bench against Arsenal this season.
But although I could see that Arsenal’s pacy, raiding midfield was overwhelming for our lads at times, what impressed me the most was our ‘steel’. We were NOT there to be pounded on into submission and sat there, as I was, watching the recording; the sheer determination our lads produced was palpable.
After the game Vinny said that the team showed “mental strength” and our Manager praised his players for showing a collective “personality”. Very accurate words indeed. And for a team missing Fernando, £32M acquisition Mangala, Toure, Nasri (for 50% of the game) and Jovetic; that’s very, very heartening indeed.
Other clubs may have spent and spent big on some amazing players in the summer – Chelsea look frightening and if they ‘click’, Manyoo have some extraordinary attacking talent at their disposal – but we are so very obviously a “team” now and, as our neighbours have shown down the years, that counts for LOADS in the Premier League.