The Gunners welcomed Manchester City to the Emirates on Monday night and Mesut Ozil promptly stamped Arsenal’s title credentials all over their face.
The teams lined up as expected; there being no place in the squad for Alexis who has reportedly suffered a small setback and who was withdrawn as a precaution (via Lee Dixon on US TV from information given to him by Robert Pires). Aguero did start and Manuel Pellegrini informed us before the game that we should be concerned.
The first half an hour of the match was a sparring match with both sides tentatively probing at the other but thanks to Andre Marriner’s refusal to deal with fouls properly, things really started to heat up as we moved into the final 15.
To be honest, City had looked the most dangerous and perhaps the most likely to score as they hit Arsenal on the break, but it was Theo who opened the scoring with an absolutely blinding effort from outside the box that gave Joe Hart no chance at all.
I make the Arsenal starting line up transfer fee total £115 million. Man City’s bench is £106 million.
— Orbinho (@Orbinho) December 21, 2015
It was also another assist for Mesut Ozil after Kos had found him brilliantly.
Arsenal’s second came, once again, via Mesut Ozil as he found Olivier Giroud, who took a moment out from overreacting to every touch from a Man City player, to slot the ball underneath Joe Hart on the stroke of half time.
Arsenal were comfortable and things were so much more fun than when they do stupid stuff. It was also a fitting 45 for Ozil who had been dismissed by Jamie Carragher as not able to control games like David Silva. Silva. For the record, Silva ended the first half with a yellow card to Ozil’s two assists.
Two attempts and two goals – it was clinical from Arsenal and all they had to do now was make sure that City’s record of not winning an away game in which they were behind at halftime for 20 years continued for another 45 minutes.
Campbell should have made it three after just seven minutes of the second half but as he swept his leg at the ball, he also leant back and sent it clear over the bar when it should have smashed the back of the net. Then he had another chance before Giroud almost got his second.
Arsenal created more in the first 10 of the second half than they had in all of the first as they looked to put the game out of City’s reach as soon as possible. There was a swagger about the Gunners, a belief in themselves and a drive that saw every player to a man work his arse off.
Ramsey then had a chance to make it three as the Gunners played Norwich-style one-touch football around the City players like they were made of stone, but his touch was just a little heavy giving Hart a chance to save it.
City offered some danger with two penalty shouts coming close together as they looked to apply pressure but the ref got the decisions right in not giving either them. Andre Marriner should have booked Yaya Toure for diving, but given how he’d been reluctant, as he always is, to show City players any cards for clear bookable offences, it was not a surprise that he didn’t.
As we moved into the final 10 minutes, City grabbed a lifeline as Toure passed it into the top corner to deny Cech his cleansheet record with a delightful effot. It was not going to be a fun final 10 and we were reminded of the many games in which Arsenal have capitulated against the big boys (and some oft he little ones).
In the end, Arsene Wenger and all his fullbacks were able to do enough to claim the points and overall it was a superb performance from Arsenal to secure second place against, arguably, their biggest rivals for the title (if we aren’t taking Leicester seriously).
It was mature, controlled and deadly despite the buttock-clenching finish.
Everything Arsenal have been accused of lacking over recent seasons.
Is this side the real deal? With a load of key players to return, fresh and rested in the new year, you’d have to be very, very stupid to argue that they aren’t.
Stupid or a spurs fan.
Don’t be a spurs fan.