Now that is more like it, what a fantastic victory for the Gunners at the Etihad. I will hold up my hands, I went into the weekend with very little hope that the Arsenal would be leaving Manchester with 3 points. It didn’t work out that way and I for sure am a lot happier for my error in judgement. The whole team put in a shift and broke the away day hoodoo against one of the bigger teams.
Here are some points from the game:
The emergence of Coquelin creates an interesting conundrum for Arsene Wenger. From one point in the season looking like his Arsenal future was as good as over the young Frenchman has returned from his brief loan at Charlton and grasped the opportunity granted to him with both hands. That’s the way football works sometimes, many promising Arsenal players have had similar opportunities and not taken them, you have to be ready and hit the ground running when it comes. Given the call for Arsene to sign a defensive midfielder since the summer it does make you wonder if Coquelin has now made up the managers mind in closing the chequebook to a new player in that position. A decision to not sign a defensive midfielder would divide the Arsenal fans but if the performance from yesterday can be repeated consistently for the rest of the season then there will be no argument to defend. A big ask but time will tell.
Giroud’s big game goals.
For all his great build up play for Arsenal, one thing that has been labelled at Olivier Giroud was the lack of end product in the big games. Many fans yearned for a top drawer striker to be the difference maker in the big games that matter. After the acquisition of players like Welbeck and Sanchez who undoubtedly have boosted the Arsenal attack not to mention the issue of a broken leg early in the season Giroud has returned to the team with a point to prove. He has come back, scored goals and showed his importance to the team. The goals are coming in the big games too as he has bagged against Manchester United, Liverpool and now Manchester City this season. With so much still to play for its great to know Giroud has risen to the challenge of competition to prove his worth.
Sanchez day off as team stepped up.
It’s refreshing that with a more subdued performance from Sanchez that his teammates took on the responsibility and showed they have reserves of energy to win games too. Too often Arsenal fans have asked why Sanchez often looks like the only player busting a gut on the pitch. A lot of the focus pre match was on the difference Sanchez would make in the game along with Aguero but by full time it was the unsung heroes that were being uttered from the lips of the approving fans. It’s certainly exciting at the thought of the team clicking as they did yesterday AND Sanchez performing as Arsenal fans have become accustomed to.
Bellerin didn’t sink he swam.
Many eyebrows were raised at the manager’s decision to start with Hector Bellerin. The Spaniard has grown in confidence in this his breakthrough season however given the level of the opposition you would be forgiven for expecting Arsene to choose the slightly more experienced Callum Chambers. At moments like that you are placed in a sink or swim situation, Arsene has shown his belief in the player by selecting him and Bellerin took it head on and swam like a fish. The youngster didn’t put a foot wrong and the experience of putting in a great performance against opposition like Manchester City will be such a boost to the player’s confidence that his career can really kick on from a moment like this. With Debuchy out for a prolonged period the door is open for Bellerin to make that spot his own during the Frenchman’s absence.
Monreal did his job.
Nacho Monreal is an unsung player this season for Arsenal. He’s not everyone’s cup of tea and always seen as back up to Kieran Gibbs rather than a challenge to the left back position. Given Gibbs injury record having able back up is essential throughout the season. Monreal has come into the team and given his all whether it has been centre back or left back. He has his limitations but credit has to be given when credit is due. Monreal didn’t put a foot wrong yesterday and also provided an assist by winning the penalty for Cazorla’s penalty. Monreal is the type of player valuable to a squad throughout a long season without setting the world alight. He serves a purpose and his value is often overlooked but yesterday hopefully he won a few people over.
Ospina has been a super positive these past few weeks; he has come into the side following some troubling moments from no.1 Szczesny. There’s been no fanfare, no controversy, he has just got on with his job and the team has been reaping the benefits with a succession of clean sheets. We all know how good a keeper he was after the World Cup in the summer and his acquisition should have eradicated any complacency in the goal keeping department. If not for injuries a run in the team may have come sooner but for now I struggle to see how the Colombian can be removed from first team duty. The gauntlet has been laid down for Szczesny; let’s hope Arsenal is the true winner from the battle.
Arsenal proved me wrong yesterday, I lost a little bit of faith and they slapped the sense right back into me. Forgive me Gunners…