With Chelsea losing in a surprising match against Crystal Palace, there was a lot for both teams to play for. City, with two games in hand had a chance to go top of the league tied on 69 points with Chelsea. Arsenal who, after two tough results, were back in the thick of things as well. To say the least, this game got that much more interesting after the Chelsea loss.
The first half of the game was a great example of City at their best, hogging possession, spreading the ball around the pitch and getting great chances on goal; mostly created by the Maestro himself, David Silva. True to his form, Pablo Zabaleta penetrated the right side of the Arsenal defense, and created and should have taken the chances his skill provided. Like the game against United, City came out in the early going and tried to establish momentum in the game by creating early chances. 18 minutes in our early pressure finally got to Arsenal as we took a 1-0 lead. City broke quickly after winning possession back in their defensive half, a blast from Dzeko ricocheted off the post perfectly and found the RIGHT foot of David Silva, I know, right foot! The ball trickled off of the Spaniards foot and went into the goal. Arsenal responded quickly, and picked up the pace from that point on and into the dying moments of the second half. None of Arsenal’s chances turned into goals, but the warning signs were there that City needed to grab a second goal because the game was still for the taking for Arsenal.
Arsenal came out in the second half and took the game to City with beautiful ticky tack ball movement right outside the box, a taste of our own medicine. There were numerous times in the second half it looked Arsenal would tie it up, and even take the lead, but City’s defense stood strong and kept Arsenal off the board. After hanging on by a thread as Arsenal attacked, the City defense finally caved and the Gunners grabbed the equalizer. Just eight minutes into the second half a cross into the box found Flamini, and he struck a first time effort into the net. As City had a hard time of sustaining a long period of possession, and Arsenal were keeping the constant pressure on City, creating chance after chance. Back and forth the sides went, with Arsenal getting more of the chances than City as second half went on. The final minutes, as you’d imagine, were heart stopping as both Arsenal and City had multiple chances to take the lead right before the full time whistle. In the end neither of the sides could take the lead, and the game ended all square 1-1. It was a well fought game by both teams and although it wasn’t a win for City we need to get points from our matches, especially against the top teams like Arsenal. I’m satisfied with a point, especially with how the game finished; anything could have happened.
No ratings for today, but there were a lot of strong performances this afternoon, but Silva, Fernandinho, Kompany, Demichelis and Hart really stood out. Sure, that’s a little less than half of the lineup but I just couldn't narrow it down further. Silva’s exquisite play this year has been essential to our form as a team this season. As he has been done in past seasons, this season has been a finer example of his importance to our play. You can see the difference in our midfield when he is out of our lineup to when he is in the lineup. He picks the right passes with perfectly weighted balls, pops up in the open pockets of space in the defense and has now taken more shots at goal. Also, after some dip in form, Demichelis had a good game for himself today. He was solid in the air and won most (if not all) of his areal duels with Arsenal players, looked calm in times of pressure. What were your feelings, Blues?
Side note for those in the NYC area, I went to the Mad Hatter in Manhattan for the first time and it was a good time. Highly recommend a visit; if you’re in the area.