Arsenal lost their fifth league game if the season which incidentally was the first time in 18 months the Gunners had suffered back to back defeats in the Premeirship. The same day also was the first in history that neither side in the top four failed to score. You can see the highlights here.
Arsenal slip outside the top four to fifth in what one must say is an unacceptable start to the season and wonder how they can still be in their position after losing five games.
Arsenal could not get a goal past a side who had let in 22 goals previously is a worrying sign. A number of key players were out before the match; Adebayor, Walcott, Sagna, Fabregas, Eboue, Toure and Gallas not to mention long term absentees Eduardo and Rosicky who could have changed the game but the team selected was short of being good enough.
The defeat to Manchester City suffered the same attacking fate that seems to be the norm when teams play Arsenal; park the defense in front of the box with two banks of four and The Gunners will fail to score. It was made even worse because of the lack of players to choose from. The main problem was with the midfield as it was a selection of four central players; Diaby and Nasri occupying the flanks while Denilson and Song in the centre. Nasri actually had a good first half put not in the conventional way.
The Frenchman prefers to cut in to his right foot but the central area was congested so it would have been better to attack the full back. Neither winger had the willingness to do such that which resulted in an easy task for City to defend. He hugged the left touchline for much of the game but never thought twice about taking on Zabaleta and similarly Diaby on the other side. The one real cross that entered the box from Clichy so nearly found the head of Bendtner while against United the opportunities from these areas showed the greater possibilities of scoring from.
The Gunners’ tried to pass their way through a wall of light blue shirts lacking any penetration or inventiveness to get passed. As a result more energy and players was used (full backs) and when City got the ball could counter attack as those players had committed themselves forward.
A real lack of variety and dynamism has been Arsenal’s real problem this season and realistically only Walcott and maybe Eboue have shown the willingness to attack the full back, while Cesc Fabregas and Van Persie when available look most likely to create any chances. The exclusion of Ramsey was a surprise then as his creative ability was sorely missed.
The imbalance of the midfield and lack of inventiveness resulted in chances for City and exploited them expertly. Song and Denilson were not sure who was meant to be the defensive midfielder and who the more attacking. The first goal was fortunate and one which opened up the game however the two images below show how aggressive Denilson (and Song) must become; a tactic used by Aston Villa against Arsenal and Man United when defending. Ireland is one of the most tireless players and a tricky customer nevertheless more determination would have been suffice at least.
The season is not over and the best thing is to support the club (but have the right to criticise also) as the club is destined to achieve higher things, maybe the Champions League is a more realistic option (or Carling Cup) this season.
One last note; somewhere William Gallas must be really hurting himself after catching the sight of Nicklas Bendtner’s boots.I also produced an article highlighting a lack of variety here on Goonertalk so head over if you want to read it.