It’s unsportsmanlike to complain of ref decisions, and yes, over the course of a season, it evens out, still, when it spoils a well-balanced game, it is disappointing. The off side was off side, even Silva knew it! Yes, Arsenal players should not have waited for the decision, and blocked him off, nevertheless it dampened the atmosphere of the game.
The positives for Arsenal, are many, a strong disciplined performance, they went toe to toe with Man City for a good duration of the game. At the start, Arsenal was even on top and could have nicked a goal.
The first Man City goal is an illustration of what Arsenal lack, ability to be active and focused without the ball. Man City got a string of passes, moved the ball side to side, and for a good 2 to 5 mins Arsenal were without the ball. When such a thing happens, as an Arsenal fan, It feels edgy, you feel that there is a goal soon. Imagine if as a fan watching the game, confidence drops, how regular it must be. It is unlike some other defensive teams, Murhinio teams feel so solid even without the ball. United this season does not see the ball for minutes together, yet there is always a feeling that the team is in Shape, and will not break down. In contrast, the ball is the oxygen for Arsenal players, without it they suffocate. Maybe there should be a week of training sessions, without the ball, just players running around!
Back to the game, first things first, Man City are in such ominous form that at halftime, a goal down felt good. It meant Arsenal were still in with a chance. There was the talk of ‘the invincibles’ season last week, just making you realize how fortunes change, Once upon a time, Man City going just a goal down at half-time against Arsenal, they would have felt better. Roles reversed, Man City today was frustrated not to be a couple of goals ahead.
Arsenal had done well defensively, Coquelin made an impression replacing Mertesacker. Alexis was not that convincing today, even will his energy. Still, they were in the game.
It was certainly puzzling to see, this year’s top signing, Lacazette, on the bench. Lacazette should play every game, and just build on his form, thus dropping him does not make sense as a fan. From the game, it was clear, Bellerin needs a replacement and competition for his place. Play on his wing was in sharp contrast to the play on Kolašinac’s wing. That said again Kolašinac’s error led to the first goal! Mixed feeling there certainly
In the second half, the attitude was positive, aggressive, with the goal from Lacazette, anything seemed possible. Arsenal threw caution to the wind bringing in all of it’s forwards into play after City had the third goal. You had Ozil, Sanchez, Lacazette, Giroud, Ramsey, all moving forward. It was similar to what happens when you are playing FIFA and PES, you bring in all your forward players, replace all defenders with attackers, I played a PES game with Reus, Bale, Origi, Sane, Mane, Iniesta, Marchisio. And if you have played the game at higher levels, you know, it doesn’t make a difference, passes just don’t reach the box. Kudos to game algorithm makers, the simulation is quite close to reality, even with all five forward, Arsenal did not have a significant shot at goal.
The game has brought many things to fore, these things were lurking in the background, however now with the league table after the game, they are just staring at Arsenal now
The Chief question, (which has rather come very early this season, compared to February every year!) is – What is Arsenal’s objective this season? Top4, Top6, as a league win is highly unlikely.
As a fan, already an acceptance that league outside reach is there, Europe looks distant, FA Cup is a maybe. Then ‘the question’ of players, Ozil, Alexis, are going (made peace with it!) what is the future then! Even other positions look vulnerable, Čech, Bellerin, Monreal need back up plans. Wilshere needs to come back strongly, and need a few of those young sparks like Nelson to come through.
In conclusion, the game fits the greater narrative, an ascending Man City, a perplexed Arsenal. despite the referring error, Man City would have got three points, at best Arsenal could have managed a point, at no point Arsenal seemed like getting all three. As a fan, wanting to see a ‘resolute’ Arsenal, got bits of it, the main thing was Arsenal did not get daunted by City. Finding Solace in little things!