So, Sunday’s trip to the north went without disaster, and better still with some promising signs.
Manchester City 1 – 1 Arsenal
For the first half of the game we really did dominate the Premier League Champions and looked to be continuing our good form. A few fleeting chances came and went without any success but we were looking good. However, as is all too familiar among Arsenal fans, all our possession and dominance only resulted in us going in at half time behind. A needlessly conceded corner gave City the opportunity and Lescott made no mistakes in heading into the net. The goal was a culmination of a number of errors. A lack of communication left Gibbs with no option but to head the ball out when he didn’t need to concede the corner and some rather lazy defending and poor judgement from Mannone allowed Lescott with little to do.
In the second half City brought on Rodwell for Sinclair which strengthened their midfield and dampened our earlier dominance. All looked to be going from bad to worse for Arsenal as the game seemed to be running away fro us. Substituions seemed to take forever and even after Walcott and Giroud came on for Podolski and Diaby, we still looked no where near geting back into the game. Then finally we got our break. Another corner, this time at City’s end. City failed to clear Cazorla’s in swinger and Koscienly reacted with striker like instincts to smash the ball past Hart. I think every Gooner breathed a sigh of relief. With less than 10mins to go it looked as though we escape the Eitihad with a valuable point. To say we ‘deserved’ that point is about right. We out played them in the first and even after going behind and the game evening up in the second, we deserved to walk away with something.
Now, those ‘promising’ signs…
1) Mannone – After a shakey and nervous start. Vito settled into the game and made some great saves to keep us in with a chance. Have we finally found some competition of Szczesny?
2) Koscienly – Having been out the team for a while it was good to see he could walk back in and carry on where he left off. Together with Vermealen and Mertesacker we have 3 quality centre backs. Koscienly played with confidence and flare. Notably was his backheel/dummy on the edge of our box to get himself and the ball out of danger. Risky, yes, but oh so good to watch being pulled off well.
3) Mertesacker – I always worry about Per’s lack of pace. Especially against the likes of Aguero. However the big German once again proved his reading of the game is fantastic. A number of vital interceptions and well timed tackles topped off a solid performance.
4) Jenkinson – What a prospect he is for the future. Once again stepping in for the brilliant but missed Sagna, Jenkinson was always going to need to perform well to win the respect of the fans and the opposition. He has done very well so far this season but was yet to face the best in the league with the likes of Man City. He really did impress. He certainly stepped up and never looked overwhelmed by the occasion. He showed some great attributes too. Out powering Lescott in the final 3rd to cut back to Podolski (who failed to hit the target) was a particular highlight.
5) Cazorla – I can see this becoming a regular thing. Once again the little Spaniard had a great game. he gets involved in every attack and has quickly got into the swing of things with the English game. He has to be the best signing Arsene has made in the last few seasons.
Don’t be fooled. There are massive areas of improvement among the squad. We are a long way from our potential and a long way from achieving the ultimate aims for the season but if things keep going the way they are, then I think we’ve all got something to get excited about.
Onto more current affairs, tonight sees us welcome Coventry City to the Emirates in the Capital One Cup. Keep an eye out for our reaction to the match.