Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Adebayor returned to the starting line-up and helped Arsenal to a comfortable win with the Gunner’s central midfield proving too good for City.
‘Strongly balanced’ was Arsene Wenger’s assessment of his side’s performance against Manchester City but with a near identical line-up against Sunderland earlier this season, there was a feeling in the press conference that we could have been talking of a different optimism. Of course, things have changed since then and Wenger’s young charges displayed their improvement by easily shrugging off the challenge from Man City.
Wenger opted to start both Fabregas and Adebayor in what looked like a 4-2-3-1 but was actually closer to a 4-1-1-3-1 when Arsenal attacked. Denilson played the deepest and played probably his most expansive game in the league this season while Fabregas played at the tip close to a Bergkamp role. Song completed the trio and went about the game with his same hustle and bustle, looking to knit up play and win the ball back in sort of a Gattuso role. (If you want more comparisons, Denilson was Pirlo and Fabregas like Kaka). The three in conjunction with Adebayor and the wide men, saw Arsenal play with intricate triangles and movement early on and also in the second-half, which City could do nothing about.
Bad marking from a Cesc Fabregas free-kick ensured Arsenal took the lead, Adebayor powering a header from a standing position. The second was all Arsenal as Fabregas dinked a fantastically weighted ball over Dunne for Adebayor to round Given and tap into an empty net. Fabio Capello talked about 9-1 regarding England but could be more suited for Arsenal; Gallas and Toure both ended up on the other side of the pitch in different occasions.
However with all the Gunners pretty early play there was a period in the first half where Arsenal could have conceded, as Gelson Fernandes was able to walk unmarked but fortunately for Arsenal, hit the wrong side of the post.
This was a small blotch for the Gunners in a good all-round performance but with a bit more accuracy could have been better. Fabregas made some good late runs that were left unnoticed while the players are still grasping the concept of interchangeability especially when Adebayor drifted out of his attacking position.
The Emirates sun shined brightly on Arsenal and maybe too brightly on Man City who offered little in the second half. The Citizens were made to endure a barrage of pressure from Arsenal with the substitutes in Eboue, Bendtner and Ramsey continuing the onslaught. Eboue was particularly dynamic with his runs but bad accuracy from outside the area and slight over-elaboration meant Arsenal could not add more.
Man of the Match: Denilson– While Fabregas and Adebayor get most of the plaudits on their return, Denilson kept Arsenal ticking with his passing from deep and also made some strong tackles to break up play.
The graphic shows Denilson’s more expansive play, being more adventurous and progressive in his passing while also knitting the play from deep. Wenger deployed Fabregas high up, as a ‘between the lines’ player similar to Dennis Bergkamp to provide the key balls. The tactic ensured greater balance for Arsenal and quicker interchange.
ARSENAL: Almunia 7, Sagna 7, Toure 7, Gallas 7, Clichy 7, Fabregas 8 (Ramsey 79min), Song 6, Denilson 8, Walcott 7 (Eboue 70min), Adebayor 8 (Bendtner 70min), Arshavin 6
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Silvestre, Djourou, Gibbs.
Goals: Adebayor 8, 49.
MAN CITY: Given 7, Richards 7, Onuoha 6, Dunne 6, Bridge (Fernandes 17min, 6), Wright-Phillips 6, Zabaleta 7, De Jong 6, Kompany (Elano 38min, 6), Robinho 6 (Sturridge 76min), Bellamy 5
Subs Not Used: Hart, Bojinov, Garrido, Mwaruwari.
Booked: Dunne, Zabaleta, De Jong.
Ref: Andre Marriner (W Midlands).
|Arsenal||Team Statistics||Manchester City|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|9||Shots on Target||4|
|9||Shots off Target||5|