City secured their first league victory at Arsenal since 1975 with a 2-0 win which cut United’s lead at the top back to 7 points. United had beaten Liverpool 2-1 earlier in the day, temporarily stretching their lead to 10 points. With the pressure of falling so far behind weighing on the players’ minds, and given City’s record at Arsenal down the years, this was an important result.
Man of the Match Milner
James Milner, a player often derided by opposition fans, put in another wonderful performance yesterday, further underlining his importance to the side. His work-rate is incredible, his deliveries were excellent, and he topped his display off with a fine goal.
Like Gareth Barry, the derision aimed at Milner is a mystery to any City fan. His desire and energy alone make him worth his weight in gold and he will have a huge part to play this season. I lost count of the number of times he tracked back and supported Zabaleta yesterday. A truly brilliant performance. Quite how Niall Quinn, the City legend and crap Sky Sports commentator, gave the Man of the Match award to Dzeko was a mystery to me.
Other standout performers
Jimmy Milner may have secured my Man of the Match award, but he was run very close by a few others. Pablo Zabaleta, the best right-back in the Premier League and surely our player of the season thus far, was superb again. In fact, his tackle and pass in the build up to our second was my moment of the match. The man has an incredible desire to win and the fans love it. He has achieved legendary status at the club already.
David Silva is another player who stood out yesterday, central to everything we did. He had 114 touches of the ball against Arsenal – more than any other player in the league this weekend. He was brilliant.
Edin Dzeko scored a goal yesterday and played better than he has on the occasions he’s started this season but he still managed to frustrate me. Maybe I am harsh, but I am never fully convinced by the Bosnian. If I were City manager, I would sell him and buy a big man who can also play (Cavani/Llorente).
Obviously, his penalty was poor, but his all-round game also leaves a little to be desired. He often holds on to the ball for too long when better options are on and his general link up play isn’t as quick or as clever as the players around him.
A first league win at Arsenal for 37 years under the pressure of seeing United go 10 clear earlier in the day should have felt like a huge occasion, but weirdly, with the match being a formality from the early stages, it didn’t feel as good as it maybe should have. Obviously, the result was hugely important, and kept some pressure on United, but it didn’t feel as significant as you’d expect given the context. That was because there was only ever one winner. Arsenal were poor and went down to 10 men early on. They never really recovered and, with the exception of Jack Wilshere, no Arsenal player had a particularly good game. City on the other hand played well and could easily have scored more goals.
Even if the victory didn’t quite bring with it the level of hysteria our first league win at the Emirates could have, to finish the weekend the same number of points behind United as we started it, after Liverpool’s pathetically insipid performance at Old Trafford, is a huge relief.
Kompany red card
Vincent Kompany was sent off yesterday and now faces a 3 match ban and the club have appealed the decision. My opinion is simple: it wasn’t a red card but given the PL’s history on rescinding bans I would be staggered of they overturn this one. ‘Frivolous’ appeals can lead to extended bans. That would be a nightmare.