Monday, August 27, 2007

Reaction, stats & ratings: Arsenal 1 City 0

Well, I was hoping for at least one more week at the top of the table but it sure was fun while it lasted. And despite the defeat there were probably more positives to be taken from this game than the wins against Derby and United.

According to Betfair, we're now expected to finish ninth this season. Fans are more optimistic, with around half the posters on Mancityfans and Citymancs believing a top six finish is possible.

I suppose we'll have to wait until the close of the transfer window on Friday before we can make a proper assessment. Hopefully last Thursday's story that we had made a bid for Spanish midfielder Borja Oubina was accurate. The fact that Celta Vigo have accepted a £6.7m bid from Benfica for the player suggests there is still a decent amount left in our transfer kitty.

Although common sense tells me that this season is merely a transitionary one, I just can't shake off the feeling that something a bit special is about to happen. It might need a bit of luck on the injury front, but I can't help feeling that a top class striker and midfielder might be enough to turn a promising team into a very good one.

~ Latest Premiership table.
~ Video highlights
~ Sven's post-match interview
~ Getty Images photos

Match stats

The stats (below) are compiled from the live commentary and can differ slightly from match stats from the BBC and Sky:

More detailed player stats, including a breakdown of each player's passes and tackles, can be found at

Match reports

Fabregas winner breaks City spell (Joe Lovejoy)
City weren’t bad, but Arsenal were better, and were in no way flattered by a result that extends their own unbeaten start, with seven points from a possible nine. Although impressed, Arsène Wenger says it will take 15 games to assess City’s progress properly. Chelsea away on October 27 looks like the acid test.
There has been much talk of City’s spirit of adventure under new management, but pragmatism was the order of the day here, with Geovanni, the match-winner in the Manchester derby, and Rolando Bianchi both on the bench, and Emile Mpenza on his own up front. Another clean sheet was always the clear priority.

Cesc Fabregas finds key to unlock City (Patrick Barclay)
City need not feel any shame at the loss of their first points under Sven-Goran Eriksson. For most of the afternoon they defended splendidly and at times in the second half it looked as if they might steal a win, just as they had done against Manchester United six days earlier; they can also console themselves with the reflection that their fixtures are not going to get a lot harder.

Arsenal 1 City 0
Although Arsenal enjoyed the lion's share of possession, Sven-Goran Eriksson's men had their chances with Martin Petrov and Emile Mpenza going close.
Richards has earned praise for his impressive start to the season, and his form continued as he threw everything to block Arsenal’s attacks. Dunne did the same as the hosts looked to convert their possession into chances.

Fabulous Fabregas strikes to undermine Eriksson effect (Steve Tongue)
His goal 10 minutes from the end of a slow-burner of a match was the first City had conceded in four matches under Eriksson, who according to his opposite number Arsène Wenger has worked "a miracle" in creating a coherent team out of so many new Manchester residents. In winning their first three games, however, they had looked stronger in defence than attack, an impression confirmed yesterday when Almunia was forced to make only one difficult save.

Fábregas rises above the rest to teach young Schmeichel a lesson (Dominic Fifield)
Something had to give eventually and, in the end, it was Kasper Schmeichel. The young Dane was engrossed in lengthy conversation with his father, Peter, after this contest, reflecting on his first concession in almost six hours of Premiership football. Yet, if an immaculate start to the season has been wrecked, Manchester City and their young goalkeeper can still draw comfort even in defeat.

Arsenal 1-0 Man City (Andy Dunn)
If Gary Neville ever reclaims his international right-back slot, Steve McClaren will be confronted by a dilemma because, on this evidence, Richards is a safer centre-half than Rio Ferdinand.
And with Dietmar Hamann and Michael Johnson forming the first shield of protection, Eriksson has constructed a defensive structure with a distinct air of impregnability.
For which Schmeichel must be extremely grateful. Only a biased parent could suggest that Schmeichel has shown enough already to invite comparisons with his father.

Fabregas finally exposes City frailties (Paul Wilson)
City's essential defensiveness was exposed here, though thanks to Arsenal's over-elaboration they almost got away with it to take home a point. They were just as outplayed as in the Manchester derby, and Arsenal were almost as guilty of being as indecisive in attack as Manchester United. 'We played better than last week and lost,' Eriksson said.

The Arsenal view:

This Arsenal team were not going to wither and die in the heat on the back of one penalty miss, and testament must be paid to their fighting spirit. Cesc was next up to test the seemingly unbeatable Schmeichel, his awkardly moving shot causing the Dane to acrobatically tip the ball over the bar. “We shall not be moved!” bellowed the travelling City fans, and they may just have been right.

The Cannon
Manchester City’s shooting was consistently bad to be honest. They had a few shots in the first 45 but I don’t remember Almunia having to make a save.
The second half was a different story though. Man City came out the better side and we didn’t really look organised at all.

Gunnerblog: Tactical observations
The overriding feeling is one of positivity. Our result yesterday mirrored that of Chelsea, who overcame a Portsmouth side who, like City, created chances and defended well.

(The penalty) was particularly harsh on the imposing centre-back duo of Richard Dunne and Micah Richards, Richards’ only mistake resulting in a penalty that Schmeichel saved from Robin van Persie.

Player ratings

Ratings come from (in order): Man City MAD, Sunday Times, MEN, BBC, Sky and Sky Your Rating.

Schmeichel: 8, 7, 8, 7.7, 6, 7.7 (av: 7.4)
Life just gets better and better for the young Dane who made a spectacular penalty save from Van Persie. (MEN)

Corluka: 6, 6, 7, 6.4, 6, 5.9 (av: 6.2)
Best performance yet from the Croat who looked unhurried and at ease without much cover. (MEN)

Dunne: 8, 8, 7, 7.1, 9, 7.6 (av: 7.8)
Dependable as ever winning most of the battles and though found Adebayor and Van Persie worthy adversaries. (MEN)

Richards: 8, 7, 6, 7.5, 6, 6.2 (av: 6.8)
Hardest game of the season for teenager who gave away spot kick and was given hard time by Gunners. (MEN)

Garrido: 6, 5, 6, 6.2, 7, 6.0 (av: 6.0)
Could have done with more help from Petrov as was proven by the well struck Fabregas' winner. (MEN)

Ireland: (Ball 87): 6, 6, 6, 5.9, 6, 5.4 (av: 5.9)
Did well considering illness of a week ago but not always able to help out his full back. (MEN)

Hamann: 7, 6, 7, 5.7, 7, 5.8 (av: 6.4)
Another fine ninety minutes in energy sapping heat buys free kicks like no one else in league. (MEN)

Johnson: 6, 7, 7, 6.1, 6, 5.7 (av: 6.3)
Had to work hard to get into the game but when he did so looked as good as all bar Fabregas. (MEN)

Petrov: 8, 7, 6, 6.6, 6, 5.8 (av: 6.6)
Shoot on sight policy is heartening but needs to put as much work in going the other way against top sides. (MEN)

Elano: (Geovanni 75): 7, 7, 6, 6.5, 7, 6.0 (av: 6.6)
Not making the runs forward that might have been expected but still so smooth when on the ball. (MEN)

Mpenza: (Bianchi 75): 7, 6, 6, 6.1, 5, 4.7 (av: 5.8)
One great chance snuffed out by Almunia but still put himself about well enough in lone role. (MEN)


Geovanni (Elano 75): - , - , 6, 5.8, 6, 5.1 (av: 5.7)
Hero's welcome but no repeat of last week. (MEN)

Bianchi (Mpenza 75): - , - , 6, 5.7, 6, 5.0 (av: 5.7)
Did everything he could to turn tide. (MEN)

Ball (Ireland 87)

Subs not used:
Hart, Onuoha.


Anonymous said...

Oubiña never signed for Benfica. If it's true we were in for him, he might very well come.

Anonymous said...

I am a Gooner and watched the whole game on Sky - i thought it was a great game with a lot of talent on both sides - Sven, who i wish was still the England manager has been fortunate to have quick money, but those he has bought look good -

sorry for posting on your blog, but it popped up on ours

i think you guys are in for a great season, and you deserve it.

and what is so refreshing to see is a team come to arsenal and not put 11 players on the goal line or kick, kick and kick,

great game, you deserved a draw, and good luck - i would love to see you 2nd at the end - but of course, behind arsenal :)

Andrew said...

Ah, it appears I was jumping the gun there so I've amended that.

anonymous Gooner,

Welcome to the site. It's always interesting to get the view of opposition fans.

Plus my site stats always goes crazy after we play Arsenal. So far I've had visits from 50+ countries today, which is about 40 more than usual.