Following a week off because of the international break, Premier League football was back and we had arguably the biggest game of the weekend. It was a huge top four clash as both teams are struggling for form and a win was much needed.
Under fire boss Wenger had to change the team a bit due to injuries. This included Cech, Ox and Ramsey so Ospina started in goal and out of form Coquelin partnered Xhaka in the centre of midfield. This was very risky as both players are prone to a lack of discipline and would have to be extra careful in such an inportant game. They did predictably both go on to get yellow cards in the game and Coquelin could have been sent off later on!
The game started very fast as Sterling went close after poor defending from Arsenal which was followed up by the home side having a similar chance through Welbeck which everyone thought went in.
Man City then took the lead (Wenger Out) after just five minutes (the quickest League goal from an away team since 2012) through Sane after more bad defending. It was a great ball from De Bruyne but it was too easy for them as our defence split and Sane was able to beat Bellerin for pace and go around Ospina to score.
City then should have added to their lead after De Bruyne hit the post and Silva had a shot well saved from Ospina.
We then started to get into the game and created some chances. Star players and contract rebels Özil (who once again went missing in a big game) and Sanchez (who surprisingly didn’t have his best game) both could have scored but it wasn’t to be for them. Will they both stay at the end of the season?
We did eventually get an equaliser (Wenger In) though 5 minutes before half time through Walcott (who loves scoring against City – 5 goals in his last 5 league games against them). It wasn’t the best of goals by a long way but nobody cared as Walcott who was onside managed to poke it in.
This only lasted 2 minutes though (Wenger Out) as City went down the other end and retook the lead through star striker Aguero (if only we had someone like him!) It was again awful defending from us and it was so frustrating after just scoring. Our players didn’t track back well enough with Özil and Xhaka the main culprits.
The second half welcomed a change from both sides with us replacing Koscielny (Achilles injury) with Gabriel and them replacing attacker Sterling for midfielder Yaya Toure. I certainly feared the worst when I found out about this change after what happened against Bayern Munich both times when Koscielny went off!
The change didn’t seem to effect us at all though as we got our second equaliser (Wenger In) after just 8 minutes. It came from an Özil corner (he only just had the ball on the line) and his German teammate Mustafi leapt highest to nod home. Now we needed to hold on for longer than we did before and maybe even get the winner!
Man City nearly took the lead for a third time through Fernandinho which produced a good save from Ospina before the latter also denied Aguero again.
It was a very tense game as both teams needed to win really but there were few chances near the end. Man City went the closest to winning the game through a header from Aguero before Monreal supposedly handballed it right at the end but the referee waved play on. It was definitely one of the most exciting games I’ve seen this season with both teams very attacking and looking to score all the time as well as having shaky defences.
So both teams had to settle for a point (Wenger In or out?) which was probably the fair result. Man City perhaps edged it creating more chances but we showed great character (I sound like Wenger) to come back from behind two times. We have now amazingly got the exact same points as we did with as many games last season which shows we are consistent but also that we are not improving or progressing.
Our performance was better than it has been and there was more fight and passion shown from the players but it was still not good enough and we can play a lot better. Our defence in particular was very poor in the first half and needs to improve especially against the bigger teams.
A point was crucial for us though (against a good team) as we have really struggled recently losing our last two games in the league and this is a start before some ‘easier games’. The result leaves us still in 6th position and 7 points behind City in 4th with a game in hand and two points behind Man United in 5th.
Next up is West Ham at home on Wednesday night which I’m also going to and this game is now a must win if we are to put pressure on the top four.
Will we do it? Can we finish in the top four? What big teams will miss out if we do?