By Tony Attwood
Walter is having another of his Arsenal Belgium sessions so I’ve been roped in for this one.
Only one team change from Bulldog’s predictions – Iwobi starts and the Ox on the beach. No sign of Jenkinson still, and Ramsey obviously still not ready after his latest injury. Arsenal fans can be heard on the Sky feed as Arsenal kick off.
Bits and pieces at the start as ball goes back and forth with no one getting very far and possession move from one team to another. Fair number of empty seats in the stadium; bet the Telegraph does not mention that, or photoshops the pic, and pretends its the Ems.
2nd minute City on the attack, City player by the corner flag falls over and crowd demand punishment for Theo. 30 seconds later same again for Gabriel. Shame they don’t have their equivalent of our team of referees and consultants .
Then a beautiful move on four minutes as Cech to Bellerin to Alexis to Theo who dummies the keeper and slots it in. His 11th of the season. I wonder if the Guardian will be doing their “Arsenal have only two players with goals in double figures” gibberish at the end of the season.
Six minutes City come close. Sterling receives the ball and heads it wide. A let off for Arsenal to be fair.
City raise another attack on 7 minutes but get themselves in a muddle but for a moment they are dominating particularly on the right. This looks like the counter attacking game as Iwobi nearly makes the break through to Alexis.
I’ll be interested to see the stats on possession but it looks mostly City. Arsenal need to hold onto this lead. Kos looks late with a challenge – he just didn’t get there on time and he and the ref share a little joke as the free kick is given. It is central, 28 yards out for City, but as they take it City is offside to the galloping forwards.
Arsenal pumping long balls forward, City trying all the time to get Stirling away. Arsenal not looking too secure, and although I can see the value of counter attacking this is making me nervous. 13 minutes another shot saved, Cech waves the team up. Only 10% of the game played in the City defensive areas.
Toure falls over but Arsenal get the ball and on 15 mins go for the first major attack since the goal. .But City come back and Arsenal break it up through Iwobi and he starts the counter attack. It breaks down but Arsenal get the board back. It is that sort of game, we have a go, you have a go, now our turn.
16 mins Arsenal go forward again but it breaks down (told you so) City come back but now there is a bit more space. Alexis on the right across the whole pitch to Theo. Arsenal fans can be heard clearly. City fans seem to be very quiet indeed. 17 mins and the commentators have given up on the game and are debating whether Ozil and Alexis will stay, probably because Arsenal have the upper hand tactically and TV doesn’t do tactics (too complex for the viewers).
18 mins and it has slowed down, Arsenal still conceding possession. Iwobi again gets the ball from a broken Man C attack, but can’t get the pass across to Alexis And again Arsenal retreat. Man City try new tactics of playing on their half way line. Alexis forces them back.
21 mins and it is happening again and again but the game has got slower and slower. City get a shot, Oh and Burnley are winning against the very tiny totts.
23 mins crowd silent, except Arsenal fans. Arsenal just waiting and taking their time City players going slow, Alexis giving advice to anyone and everyone. Lovely TV pic of a throw in that could go either way it goes to Arsenal and a man in the stands opposite leaps up and rushes forwards gesticulating wildly at the ref. All over a throw in.
Possession all City, but Alexis on his own keeping them in their half. 1 v XI. Not bad
26 mins City get run an attack and a corner. TV has the opportunity to blame Kos. And oh what a shame Tinies have equalised. Still 90% City. 173 passes to Arsenal’s 68. Another attack breaks down. It”s being played at the speed of an end of season match between two mid table teams who can’t go up or down. Mr Wenger goes on the prowl
I think Arsenal are waiting for City to get frustrated.
Then suddenly Gabriel clears but it hits Bellerin on the head and Cech saves – the nearest City have come to a goal for 25 minutes.
31 mins a rare Arsenal attack, ball comes across to Theo who has his back to goal and tries an over the shoulder shot but it is wide.
32 mins Alexis tries to take on the entire game early makes it but it is a bit much. City attack break dow again and Arsenal once more defending although they are defending a bit higher now I think but Wenger waves them back. I wonder if I could get backing for a movie called “The Silence of the Airport.”
TV is now giving a list of players that have left AFC and gone to Arsenal; they are getting anxious. There is an Man C attack but it breaks down and Arsenal counter. It comes to Ozil and he gets a corner. Eventually header comes to Xhaka and his header is wide.Man City has had 5 attempts to Arsenal’s three but the only attempt on target was the goal.
City are still dangerous however but their own ineptness and their fouling is causing them problems. Silva get a yellow right in front of the ref. TV critical of Arsenal not pushing forwards enough when a six man Arsenal attack ends with a Bellerin shot over the bar. City slowing the game down but allowing Arsenal to intercept. But we could do with two more goals.
The level of fouling by City is getting ludicrous with 40 mins gone and City now attacking on the half way line and taking a long time to get forwards. But they have obviously made an appeal to the ref as Arsenal breathing is being penalised.
The free kick leads to a close chance which goes behind for a City corner. Arsenal defend it. But we are told over and over this is when Arsenal are vulnerable, before half time. Alexis however breaks away for a counter. It comes to nothing and City try counter attacking since it works for Arsenal. A City corner. Alexis is hobbling bady. the corner ends up with Cech.
43 mins beautiful counter attack ends up with the ball in the net but is ruled offside.
Nearly half time and City get another corner with 1 minute of added time. A free kick inside the centre centre and the minute is up and the ref blows. The City manager complains to the fourth official. 1-0 to the Untold Predictors. We’re playing counter attacking but not perfectly, and I am not convinced.
Sagna on for the second half. City kick off and go on the attack, but it goes out for an Arsenal throw City get it back but then a pass from the half way line goes right through for an Arsenal kick. Then another City attack goes the same way. But the third time City find a way through as Arsenal defence seems to melt away, Sane scores. Looking at it again it really looks like the defence not coming out focused. Goal was fractionally offside but really the defence should have been much more on top of that.
Now suddenly City have woken up and the crowd certainly have. Monreal goes down with a head injury. Arsenal really really really need to wake up. Yaya Toure screams at the linesman and gets a yellow for so doing. Coquelin down with an injury but looks like he can run it off. We really need to get hold of this game now to be able to re-establish the counter attack game.
Iwobi looking lively, Bellerin has a chance and shoots rather than passes it. Mr Wenger frowns.
Game looks different as if both sides want to play counter attacking, with no real urgency but on 54 mins and Arsenal cannot clear it. Crowd is getting noisy again and this doesn’t look so smooth for Arsenal. Yaya Toure puts a pass through which splits the defence. Unfortunately for him it splits the attack too and goes out for a goal kick.
City attacking one side then the other and Arsenal are just waiting which surely can’t be the best ploy. And when they do get the ball back they don’t seem to have the right counter attacking game plan. 57 mins a rare sortie into the City half breaks down and then again we are just onto City all the way. When Arsenal get the ball they are trying dinky passes to get out of their own penalty area and it doesn’t work.
Sagna does sign language to suggest the linesman has mental health issues but gets away with the awful insult.
The hour is up and Alexis at last gets the ball but can’t get far beyond the half way line. City come back but Cech is alert and cuts out the ball for a corner. Another City attack, more Arsenal hesitant defensiveness and another City shot just wide.
62 mins another City attack just breaks down Arsenal proceed slowly which is not right for this stage of the game. Over about eight passes Arsenal give it to City four times and they reciprocate in equal measure.
But City again come away with it, and are totally in charge. They are now taking pot shots, it bounces back each time and they have another go.
65 minutes the Ox comes on for Iwobi but immediately we have more of the same, City attacking and the counter attack breaks down so quickly,
66 mins a rare Arsenal attack with the Ox but it breaks down yet again and City counter, that breaks down and Arsenal are for a second time in the City half.
68 mins a slight change, and a coherent Arsenal attack. Have we seen the problems through, and can now do proper counter attacking? I’m not convinced. City come back but are moving more slowly. Another muddle in the middle and Cech saves a deflected shot.
Horrible mess in defence means Cech to the rescue but there is a little more Arsenal coherence in coming forwards. Not enough to make me relax but a bit. But then Sterling gets an amazing cross field ball from within his own half which lands perfectly he cuts inside and scores. Oh dear.
Now presumably we ought to see a different game although for the moment Arsenal have not changed.
74 mins Giroud comes on and Coquelin goes off, so we have the change. Can Arsenal change their style immediately – that is the question. Ozil needs to get in the game. But still City are getting away with it and hit the outside of the post.
Elneny gets ready to come on as the news comes through that Tottenham are ahead. Can’t even rely on them. The Ox goes off – appears he is injured.
City now looking very much as if they want more. That looks dangerous. On the attacking front Theo seems to have vanished. De Bruyne commits a nasty foul on Gabriel.
Ten minutes to go and we need to see Arsenal playing a different game, playing to their strengths. We do get an attack involving Ozil and Theo so that is better but we need more.
Elneny is playing further forwards, and playing well in that position. There is more here now and the possession is mostly Arsenal. Five minutes to go; Ozil is fouled ten yards out. to the left. He takes the free kick. Ball is punched out by the keeper and Arsenal keep possession but are forced back. Xhaka makes a mess of a pass and Elneny gets a yellow which aggrieves him deeply. There’s a delay while the City player gets treatment.
Free kick is aimless, but the ball pings back and forth. Nothing happening with just one minute to go in normal time. Ball goes out and City ballboy refuses to throw it back to Arsenal until ordered by the ref.
4 minutes added time.
City attack, Cech saves Arsenal attack but give it away again, City free kick on their right and try for a scrum by the corner rather than trying to attack. Arsenal play themselves out of trouble, back into it, and out again but only 2 minutes left and Arsenal can’t get going.
Cech has the ball 90 seconds to go, but it breaks down. Gabriel gets a yellow for a foul on the halfway line.
Times up, Arsenal start to attack but Bellerin pulled back. Ozil tries to take it from the wrong place, Cech rushes up and takes it to Ozil to force him to speed up but the whistle goes. We’ve lost.
The opening tactics were right in my opinion, but when the game changed we needed a very swift change of tactics, but couldn’t do it.
So it goes.