Monday, 31 March 2014

Arsenal vs Manchester City - match report:

Hello again everyone and welcome to my latest blog post, where I have a review and match report + analysis of the EPL matches being played on Saturday afternoon. Chelsea, United, Arsenal, City and Southampton were among the sides who were in action, in a very interesting day of football. 

My featured match of the day was;

Arsenal vs Manchester City:
This match was played at The Emirates Stadium, with The Gunners hosting Manchester City in an important and top-of-the-table clash between 3rd placed City and 4th placed Arsenal. If City won the match, they would go to the top of the table with 2 matches in hand on their other title rivals (Liverpool, Chelsea and potentially Arsenal) 

Here are the team line-ups from the match:
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Flamini, Rosicky, Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud. 

Subs: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Bellerin, Kallstrom, Gnabry, Sanogo.

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Toure, Fernandinho, Navas, Silva, Nasri and Dzeko.

Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Kolarov, Javi Garcia, Milner, Negredo and Jovetic.

Referee - Mike Dean 

Match report:

Both sides started the game well, with City looking dangerous on the counter attack with pace and intent from Silva, Navas and Fernandinho. Meanwhile, Arsenal were being encouraged to push forward up the pitch by the loud support from their supporters, who knew how important the match was after seeing Chelsea lose to Palace thanks to a Terry OG earlier on in the day - thus blowing the title race wide open. 

Spanish winger Jesus Navas had a curled effort from 20 yards out fizz past the post in the 2nd minute, and Arsenal did well to stay firm and press the visitors in the first 10 minutes of the match. MNC were comfortable to dominate possession in the early going as they looked to penetrate the Arsenal defence with a spliting through ball towards goal (67% possession in first ten mins)

Arsenal had a geniune penalty claim after Cazorla's through ball to Rosicky resulted in the Czech Republic midfielder going down inside the box after a late challenge from right-back Pablo Zabaleta, who stuck his leg out to try and halt Rosicky's run in the 12th minute - but the referee waved play on despite protests by the Arsenal players.

City broke the deadlock in the 17th minute after striker Edin Dzeko hit the post with a stinging shot before the ball bounced off the post and fell to Silva who tapped the ball into an empty net (with Szczesny on the floor)

Slotted: Silva had the easy task of tapping the ball into the net past Arsenal to open the scoring
I'll take it: The goal was deserved for City even though both sides started the game well
City celebrate Silva's opener against Arsenal at The Emirates. 1-0 ahead after 20 minutes.
Flamini equalised in the 21st minute with an acrobatic effort inside the box after Podolski's delivery into the box, but the fourth official signalled for offside and City were let off. The Gunners kept up the pressure with constant through balls into the box for the attacking-minded players, before Sagna had a great cross comfortably caught by English goalkeeper Joe Hart to deny Giroud who was lurking and running towards the inviting delivery. 

Arsenal kept up the pressure, trying to make the most of their attacking chances when they had the ball, but City did well to swarm around the player in possession to try and force them off the ball. 

Podolski did well to create a chance out of nothing on the counter attack, after a ball from Cazorla saw him burst down the flank past Zabaleta, but his cross was intercepted with a sliding challenge by Demichelis as both sides looked to take the best advantage into the half-time interval. 

Key players in the first-half: 
Mathieu Flamini - he broke up play well and made key passes to help set Arsenal up as they tried to push on the counter attack.

Flamini was key for the hosts in midfield to break down City counter attacks and chase the ball.
Santi Cazorla - the sole creator of counter attacks for Arsenal, he was the hub of midfield and made key passes when needed.

Vincent Kompany - The skipper himself had to lead from the back, and was needed to make vital clearances and interceptions near the 18-yard box whenever Arsenal were on the counter attack. 

David Silva - Dictated the play as the creative midfielder for City, making good runs and split the Arsenal defence with good through balls and fast movement in behind the centre-backs. Quality. 


The second-half started, and both sides were eager to start the second 45 well and score early. Kompany did well to clear the danger away after Giroud intercepted the ball from Demichelis in the 49th minute. Cazorla had a stinging long-range effort parried away by the legs of Joe Hart in the 51st minute, as Arsenal started the better of the two sides after the break. 

An unlikely source, but a source nonetheless as Flamini made it 1-1 after converting a chance, 12 yards out from Podolski's low cross into the area from the flank in the 53rd minute. 

Equaliser: Flamini made it 1-1 in the 53rd minute to make the second-half interesting 

Flamini celebrates his finish after having an earlier strike disallowed thanks to being offside
Vital goal: Flamini made up for his unfortunate own goal against Swansea to score against City
City were suddenly on the back foot after Flamini's equaliser, with Hart being busy to deny Arsenal on numberous occasions during the half and the City defenders were under pressure to stay strong at the back. 

Hart was under pressure again and made a vital save to deny Podolski in a one-on-one, making a crucial diving save to stop The Gunners from taking the lead after 60 minutes.
Then, City began to build-up pressure again, with Navas bursting down the flank but being chopped at the legs by Podolski, with the resulting free-kick coming of nothing as Silva's well-struck shot was blocked and cleared away by the Arsenal defence in the 62nd minute. 

City made the first substitution of the day as Navas was replaced by Milner in the 65th minute.

Arsenal stuck firm with some solid defending, with both teams piling on the pressure as they looked for the goal to set their team ahead. Cazorla had a whipped delivery into the box from 30 yards out, curled into the box for Giroud who jumped the highest to head the ball towards the ball - but his effort fizzed past the post and out for a goal-kick.

City passed their way around the midfield, before opening up the defence before Mertesacker and Vermaelen stood strong and denied a goal-scoring opportunity to keep the scores level. 

Silva's through ball almost released Nasri in the box, before Toure was closed down and forced to shot off balance, with Szczesny saving the first shot before Dzeko's follow-up was deflected wide of the goal in the 75th minute.

Giroud weaved his way past Demichelis outside the box before having a shot well wide of Joe Hart's goal, not troubling him in the 77th minute.

Arsenal made a sub, with Podolski being replaced by Oxlade-Chamberlain with just over 10 minutes to play - pace injection, energy and strength going up the field which is something that The Gunners are lacking. 

Meanwhile, City made a substitution of their own. Nasri was replaced by Javi Garcia in the 80th minute - fresh legs for the visitors who were trying to solidify the midfield and stay strong for the last 10 minutes of the match. 

The Ox did well to burst forward on the flank, beating Milner before crossing the ball into the box (with no-one available to take advantage)

City made another substitute:
Dzeko was replaced by Negredo in the 84th minute as the Bosnian striker was lacklustre for the most part in the second-half.

ARS sub: Giroud OFF, Sanogo ON (84) - Giroud was also looking tired, ineffective and Sanogo would end the match as a result. Fresh legs for both sides

Milner with free-kick delivery into the box for a City header, Szczesny comfortably saved the delivery as the hosts pushed out of the box.

The hosts kept pushing for a late winning goal - Cazorla had a delivery into the box punched clear by Joe Hart as ARS kept up the pressure on the visitors with seconds to play of the match.

3 minutes of stoppage-time, with ARS desperate for play to continue as they tried to force a late winner. Good link-up play between Santi, Gibbs and Chambo, let off for MNC after an inviting ball into the box was inches away from Chamberlain's head towards goal, but the ball went out for a goal-kick.

Key players in second-half:
Joe Hart - was a vital player for City as he thwarted many shots from the hosts in the second-half as they pressed for a winner
Vincent Kompany - had to defend well to avoid a loss
Mathieu Flamini - arguably one of the best players on the pitch, worked hard on the ball and worked hard to win the ball back for his team
Kieran Gibbs - was an integral part of the team, needed to stay tight to his man and pushed forward when his side had the ball.

City miss the chance to go top of the table after being held at the Emirates. Arsenal responded well in the second-half and took a deserved point from the game, but it probably will not be enough to give them title hope. (Pictures still to be added)