When both sets of fans leave a ground feeling disappointed that they were not able to grab all three points then you'd have to say that a draw might have well been a fair result in the end for both teams.
I thought it was hands down our best performance of the season so far and that for me is hugely encouraging. Since the season kicked off against Crystal Palace it has been a race to click and gel as a team. Having to integrate new players is difficult enough without the summer distractions. But yesterday lunchtime we witnessed perhaps the first real signs that the team were getting there. The champions had to do a lot of blocking and holding in the early rounds. Danny Welbeck almost supplying the knockout punch after a Silva error, Welbeck's chip over Hart was almost perfect but for the base of the post intervening. I have to disagree with Arsène's hint that Danny may have selected the wrong option by chipping in that position. Messi has been finishing that way for years now and I don't see many folk disapproving on his finishing choices.
But as is often the case with Arsenal, we started very well looked in control and had Manchester City on the ropes only to get caught with their first chance of the game. As Navas retrieved the ball from the touchline and headed towards Szczesny's penalty box I thought Flamini was badly positioned. He could not watch the ball and also Agüero who was lurking behind him, if Flamini had his back to Szczesny he would have been able to spot Agüero's run and made the interception or block, as it was the excellent Sergio Agüero nipped in and applied what was a simple finish.
In week one we wouldn't have been able to turn that around because our passing and creativity was not at the required level. Yesterday it was thanks largely down to the inspirational Alexis Sanchez and Jack Wilshere. As Alex Bird wrote not too long ago, all the boy needed and needs is a run of games without disruption. We are starting to see the benefits of this now. There is a sharpness to his play now, playing with a confidence that had been absent during his stop/start career.
His equaliser was beautiful. After a flurry of passes it was Ramsey who slid the ball to Wilshere bursting into the box, his drag past the wrong footed Clichy was subtle but masterful and his right footed dinked finish over Joe Hart was coolness personified.
The goal from Alexis to put us 2-1 up was even better. Wilshere heading over the defence to Alexis lurking in the box and his controlled side footed volley was perfectly placed past Hart. With 8 minutes remaining it was very disappointing to concede from yet another set piece. Something has to be done about this area. There is no use blighting on about zonal marking because we have always adopted this system and I think we conceded the least amount of set piece goals last season. We just have to get back to doing it well. I suspect that missing Giroud and Sagna has contributed to our current defending. Oh I hope Sagna enjoyed the game, he did manage to get a great seat to view the game, lucky guy.
Demichelis rose well and headed towards goal but Flamini and Szczesny got in each other's way. Maybe the goal would have been prevented if one of those players dealt with the situation alone rather than the pair. Who knows.
We could have easily lost the game late on as City finished the contest the stronger. We have to thank the woodwork that we had cursed at the start of the game. Both Aleksandar Kolarov and Edin Džeko hit the post and also Samir Nasri had a goal disallowed for offside. You know that feeling when the opposition score and for a split second you are praying that something has been spotted. 99 times out of 100 it's false hope and that sinking feeling sets in. Luckily for us, it was that 1 time. The thought of Nasri wheeling away and giving it to the Arsenal fans would have been too much to stomach. As it turned out both teams were worthy of a point.
Post Match Thoughts
It is a massive shame and blow that Debuchy has badly sprained his ankle. He has hit the ground running in an Arsenal shirt and will already be missed. We have to hope for a speedy recovery and hope that Chambers can plug the gap in his absence. I know Calum has spent most of his career as a right back now but he doesn't really look like an Arsenal right back. Especially the way we tend to use them. As Sol Campbell said recently, his frame suits a central player a lot more. I think we'll lose some offensive width without the Frenchman. Bellerin would give us that and more but I don't think Arsène sees him as ready enough to be next in the pecking order at this moment.
A lot has been made of the 4-1-4-1 and the impact it is having on players like Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Özil. Firstly I don't believe that the system would negatively affect Ramsey. Essentially he has the same responsibilities as he had in the 4-2-3-1 just starting a little higher. But he still has to drop to help Flamini in this case and has the licence to get forward and score, as we've already seen this season. I just think that Ramsey has taken a little bit of a dip along with the team who were struggling to find their feet. Mesut Özil's position has clearly changed and while he can play the role, I don't think we are getting the best out of him from the left.
So why have we switched position? Why buy the best number 10 in the world and play him wide left? Those are questions I've read a lot in recent weeks. Not many people know what Arsène is thinking but I will give you my best guess.
I believe Arsène has analyzed our performances last season in order to improve this, he would have almost certainly paid close attention to the big defeats last season and looked to correct those problems. Maybe with Mesut Özil in a central position we were not good enough off the ball and did not help the team defensively. The away trip to Bayern springs to mind. Arsene started Mesut on the right that day before he got injured very early. Maybe non tacklers are better suited in a wide position. Andrey Arshavin was never given the number 10 role for those exact reasons so perhaps Arsène is looking to address this by moving Özil into the creative wide role. We've had creative wide players who are not the best defenders in previous successful teams. Players like Pires and Overmars spring to mind, those players rarely contributed to our defensive game and it was left to others to cover them.
While Mesut is not near his best form as yet, it would be folly to write him off and call for a replacement so soon. Like Bergkamp, Henry, Pires, Ramsey, Song and many more before them, it might just need a bit of patience for the wheels in Özil's and the teams vehicle to run smoothly. We are not asking Özil to stay wide, get to the touch line and bang in crosses. He is supposed to move into central positions and interchange with his team mates and make the right choice of passes. We know he is well capable of that.
There is a feeling that the mood is starting to change towards him and that would be horrible if that was the case. Horrible for the player and more importantly the team so I hope that changes and he gets full support until he finds his groove.
One player finding his groove already is Alexis Sanchez. He gives the team that much needed x factor. He gives a passing team another dimension and he'll only get better. As I commented on Twitter yesterday, his work rate is super human. A lot of clubs are going to find him very difficult to deal with both with and without the ball.
I am very encouraged by the attacking performance, I've been waiting for that all season so I hope it's here to stay and we keep improving. There are some areas we really need to work on at the same time. Our points total could be better at this stage but being unbeaten and having only now found our rhythm, I hope that is a good sign.
If we play like that offensively at Dortmund we could win the most difficult game in the group. We'll see.
For further reading on yesterday's game. Check out the post match Q&A with four Arsenal fans from Twitter.