Written by Mean Lean on Monday, 24 September 2012 11:06
Arsenal fans have been ticking off the challenges so far this season but there has been a question mark about each of the teams that we have faced not so against last seasons champions at the Etihad stadium. A stadium that before kick off had witnessed 31 matches without the home fans experiencing defeat.
As early in the season as it is, I think we have shown that we are amongst the best in the league after this display.
Aaron Ramsey was the surprise inclusion in the starting line up, in place of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the Welshman who has looked impressive in his cameo appearances so far this season justified his starting spot with a high energy and composed performance.
It is typical that at a time where fans are getting excited about the return of Jack Wilshere, another player takes a positive step forward. From memory, that was Aaron Ramsey's best performance since we beat Chelsea 5-3 at Stamford Bridge last season.
He could and perhaps should have had an assist as he slipped in Gervinho down the right with a decisive through pass early in the first half. Gervinho had the beating of Gael Clichy and all he needed was a good first touch and a low shot across the goalkeeper. Instead his touch was incredibly heavy and the ball rolled into the arms of a grateful Joe Hart.
It would prove to be a frustrating afternoon for the Ivorian who had been switched back into the forward position that he excelled so well in last week against Southampton.
Gervinho has been criticised by many following his display and I agree with much of the criticism directed his way. He is rash in front of goal, he snatches at opportunities and often shows a lack of composure when it really matters. To be a consistent goal scorer he needs to learn how to place the ball, to bend the ball into corners instead of shutting the eyes and lashing at his shots, hoping that it goes into the net. If he is going to continue in this new role then plenty of work at London Colny needs to take place.
Having said all that, I also really like what Gervinho gives us as I said after the Southampton game. In a team of technical passers a player with pace and the ability to dribble at speed is hugely beneficial. Gervinho also works very hard for the team, chasing the opposition and tracking back.
Giroud is a fantastic team player and is no doubt a better finisher than Gervinho but we look very one paced with Giroud and Podolski in the team, especially away from home.
Ideally we would have a mixture of Podolski and Gervinho. The last one of those at Arsenal was a certain Thierry Henry. Those players are not easy to come by.
I would agree with @Arse2Mouse that we played our best football of the season in the first half. Some of our passing was breathtaking. I cannot remember the last time an Arsenal team moved the ball around as quickly and slickly as we did. Ramsey drifting in from wide gave us the advantage in midfield and Mancini's men were chasing us for long periods.
If it was the first time I'd ever watched football without knowing any of the history then I would have assumed that Arsenal were the hugely expensive team who had just won the league title, especially as it was us that were the away team.
Jenkinson was sensational and I am so pleased to see his huge progress this season. He missed out on a long run in the team last season during Sagna's injury so it is fantastic that he is getting the chance now. What struck me in that game was his pace. I didn't realise until now that Carl Jenkinson is much quicker than I thought. Being the fittest player in the squad gives him a massive advantage as a right back slash wing back. Defensively he is improving, his positional sense yesterday was spot on but you can also see that he is trusting himself with the ball much more now.
I love Bacary Sagna as a player, still for me the best right back in the Premier League when fit but I just do not see any reason why Carl Jenkinson should be instantly replaced when he first comes back. I could slap myself in the face further down the line for saying that, I remember uttering similar thoughts when Robin van Persie first came back from injury with Chamakh working so hard for the team. Luckily I am not the guy making the decisions.
Per Mertesacker was sensational. His positioning and reading of the game was top class and in my eyes, he was our best player on the day. Certainly for me, it was his best display in an Arsenal shirt.
Abou Diaby overcomplicated his game at times and lost the ball in dangerous positions at times during the match. That may cost us if he doesn't iron out those dwelling moments. He needs to learn when is the right time to beat his man and when is the right time to play it first time to a team mate.
The Manchester City goal was frustrating, a situation that we have been accustomed to in the past. Dominate possession and concede from a corner kick. Vito Mannone has to take a decent sized chunk of the blame for coming for a ball and not making it, yet we all knew his shortcomings. He is not the strongest from crosses as is the case for Pepe Reina or Lukasz Fabianski but Mannone made some excellent saves to keep us in the game. That is Mannone. Finding a keeper who can combine all aspects of an Arsenal goalkeeper is a difficult task. Lescott rose the highest and planted his header past Arteta on the goal line.
I thought that Sergio Aguero should have had a penalty when Koscielny mistimed a challenged in the box but the Argentine rode the tackle and had a deflected shot wide. To stop players diving, the referee should give those decisions. Perhaps not this one but maybe against Manchester United would be a good start.
Yaya Toure was immense for City. He really is world class on his day. Driving from the City half he swats players off like flies and has everything in his game. Passes well, wins the ball, scores goals. The gem in the crown for the champions.
Roberto Mancini made a move to stop his side from chasing the Arsenal midfield. Scott Sinclair was replaced for former Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell. The change seemed to do the trick, we were not as dominant in the second half and the home team had spells of being the better team.
But Arsenal found the deserved equaliser with minutes to go. Another corner, another central defender. In fact it was the goalscorer who could only clear Cazorla's corner to the feet of Koscielny who took a touch and lashed the ball high past Hart.
I could watch the celebration over and over again. The Arsenal players jumping on each other but it was the Arsenal away fans going crazy in the background that makes it so special.
Both teams had chances to win the game at the end. Aguero shot past the post after Koscielny cleared straight to him after an acrobatic attempt by Vincent Kompany.
Gervinho had a chance at the death to win the game for Arsenal when he collected a pass from Gibbs and weaved his way past two players and blasted high and wide. A low drive to Hart's right or a curling shot to the keepers left would have been better options. Gervinho also had Oliver Giroud drifting into space to his right.
In the end, the draw was a fair result and a draw away from home at last seasons champions has to be a positive. A victory next week at home to Chelsea and this could turn into an excellent result.
Onwards and hopefully upwards.
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