So you score three at the most fearsome stadium in the Premiership and still manage to lose. Football can be cruel can’t it? As easy as it would be to go ahead and blame the, quite frankly awful, refereeing (two non-offside goals disallowed and a penalty turned down that would be given nine times out of ten), it would also be a massive cop out. Unless your name is Alex Ferguson (there’s not enough money in the world for me to prefix that with ‘Sir’), you need to be winning games in spite of decisions like those. Expect no favours, especially away from home.
Our defending, particularly on the left side, was nowhere near good enough for a team with title ambitions. Nacho Monreal, be it down to a lack of game time or a general lack o positional awareness, gave them far too much room to roam and he wasn’t helped by having a defensively lax Jack Wilshere in front of him. Flamini, while he’s great for roaring the team on in times of need, often lets his tenacity get the better of him and found himself a step or two out of position after chasing some other lost cause – an admirable effort, but a calmer presence could’ve gone a long way in nullifying City’s central play in the final third.
As it was the last time we played in Manchester, a poor first half performance left us with a lot to do in the second, and while we created a lot more after City’s third, we were always chasing the game and as was proven today, that is not the position you want to find yourself in at The Etihad.
Our failings aside, City were (and are) phenomenal going forward. Their passing is precise, their movement is mesmerising and their finishing is sublime (well they scored six fucking goals, so yeah…). They’ve been unplayable at home and I really don’t see how any team in the league can successfully set up to stop them. It’s a good job (and it’s important to remember this in the bigger picture of the title race) that they struggle on the road or they would be running away with the league this year.
Still though, look at it this way; we played the best attacking team in the country and lost. It happens. They’ll drop points elsewhere and it’s all still firmly in our hands next week at Chelsea; taking three points from these two games would be a million miles away from disastrous. Theo’s finishing was class and he looks a real outlet for us. His link up with Özil will be a joy to watch in coming months. Oh yeah, and Per scored a goal too, which is always nice. If Arsene brings in a reliable goal scorer in January, this is still ours to lose.
So calm down, gooners, we’d have bitten hands off for this situation after the opening day and we won’t play teams that good every week.
Ryan De Freitas