A 2-2 draw with City, Pellegrini making excuses for his team, Arsenal conceding stupid goals but scoring some great ones. Football came back after a fortnight and it was as enjoyable a game as could be hoped for, even though the result wasn’t.
It was a tough match at the Emirates yesterday :)
But Arsenal showed that they are tough too, albeit prone to moments of weakness. We began with a flourish. None of the hanging back and letting the game come to you nonsense. We went out to grab the game by the…. neck.. and City had no response beyond kicking out and disrupting the rhythm of play.
Maybe this is what Pellegrini is trying to hide with his statements against the referee, who although did well to at least call the fouls (rare in the English game, especially when it comes to Arsenal) did not produce yellow cards as quickly as he should have. Check out Welbeck being taken out by Kompany before Debuchy had his shot, and I think Silva bundled Ramsey over during another move. Both were blatant, (ref played advantage) and Kompany had many more such fouls and I don’t think he got a yellow card all night.
I thought we did well to respond to that physicality with some of our own. We aren’t, and probably won’t be, very good at the dark arts, but we can handle ourselves on the field given a fair referee, which we did yesterday including with the supposed fouls that Pellegrini complained about.
We all saw the goals, have our own thoughts on our defending and fullbacks pushing up. I said in a comment that I think Ramsey and Flamini share the blame for the first goal we conceded. I also think we wouldn’t have conceded a second if Debuchy had not gotten injured, though of course we’ll never know.
As an aside, Debuchy has apparently not had a fracture, but has to undergo a medical exam tomorrow. He would have been suspended for Dortmund anyway. Let’s see how long we have to do without him.
Another injury doubt before yesterday’s game was Ramsey. He played, and ran his heart out as usual, but he was far less effective and involved in the game than his midfield partner Jack Wilshere, who ended the game with a goal and an assist. He also seems to be developing a good partnership with Alexis, who was brilliant as well yesterday.
Jack Wilshere has his detractors, and I suppose that is to be expected, partly as a consequence of his early hype. (I said partly LB. Don’t chew me out) His early promise is almost like a burden on him rather than cause to hope for better in the future for many. I don’t see it that way. He’s had his injury worries and missed a lot of football. Just over a season ago, Ramsey was in a worse place but has come back to become almost the heartbeat of this team (yesterday was the first time in a long time we played well when Ramsey didn’t) My hope is that Wilshere can do something similar. I am not alone in holding this hope of course, and a Ramseyesque emergence is not something that just happens, but yesterday adds to that hope.
I think the formation change we’ve seen (blamed for Ozil’s woes) not only provides us some more stability in midfield, but also helps Wilshere. Last season it was tough to see where he’d fit in, but he now has the opportunity to make this midfield spot his own. He’ll still need to work on building an understanding with Ramsey. Still needs to be better at knowing when to release the ball. But his increased confidence and strength are now almost as visible as Nasri’s surprise and frustration as he bounced off him onto the ground where he’d have hit his chin if he had one.
I’ve never been one of the Jack the Lad guys. His being English means nothing to me. His being a Gooner though, does. I have been sceptical of that too in the past, but I think the way the team his shaping up, his recent comments, and hopefully, his continued improvement, makes him an important part of our success for years to come.