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Thoughts on the Arsenal defeat

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It is not often that far more positives than negatives are ultimately taken from a 3-0 home defeat, but whilst some press reports have been critical of City in the wake of yesterday's defeat it is difficult to read too much into the game given that Dedryck Boyata's dismissal effectively changed the tone of the match at such an early stage.

In the preview of the game it was stressed how vital the midfield battle was set to be; City setting up with the intent to control possession and suffocate the creative aspect of Arsenal's game, very much in the way that Chelsea were defeated. Going down to ten men meant a reshuffle of the pack, with one of the important trio forced to take up defensive duties - although Roberto Mancini still kept David Silva in an advanced position hoping to exploit weaknesses in the visitors defence.

Inevitably, once Arsenal got in front, there was more onus to 'chase' the game, meaning that as time went on tiredness became a factor, which of course Arsenal were able to exploit. Playing against Arsenal is a tough ask at the best of times, let alone a man down.

That isn't to say there weren't chances.  Both at 1-0 and 2-0, City still fought, still pressed and still created. The much-maligned Fabianski turned in a very good performance and made some smart saves that undeniably kept City at bay and Arsenal ahead.

It was a big call for Mancini to opt for Boyata over Joleon Lescott, but based on the evidence of Thursday evening I doubt there were many disagreeing with the decision at kick-off. It was a tackle that had to be made by Boyata, but like Vincent Kompany later in the game, the slightest misjudgement can have serious consequences.

Whilst Mancini then adjusted the side well, it could have been that Adam Johnson could have been introduced at some stage in the second half to really run at Arsenal and try and add extra impetus to our play.

Credit does have to be given to Arsenal though. Too often it is easy to level the 'soft' or 'over-complicated' tag at them but yesterday was an example of how ruthless and clinical they can be. Given their away record of late, it was an impressive display - even against ten men - and for a side not mentioned in the title shake-up talk, the evidence of yesterday suggests it would be folly to do so.

It was however an impressive performance to still display the qualities seen for the most part this season, and certainly bodes well for times ahead. The unity, spirit and togetherness of the side has been questioned since the money rolled in, but yet again this was a trait on show in abundance. Mancini appears to have built a strong mentality in the camp and you would imagine that the reaction will be a positive.

It does now leave the table very bunched behind Chelsea (who have a five point lead), with City, Arsenal and United all level on seventeen points and it would not be too much of a stretch to suggest those three teams will be battling to catch Chelsea over the course of the season.

Rather than reading too much into the result from a City perspective: that it is 'proof' that vast riches can't buy success etc, the result and performance may well be more of a lesson in displaying the capabilities of Arsenal, as opposed to the deficiencies of City.