Mannone Could Replace Szczesny, Gervinho Needs A DVD Of Henry And More Lessons Learnt From Arsenal Vs Manchester City
I tipped The Arsenal to come away from this game unbeaten in my earlier preview piece and they duly did so (just...), here are five things that I have learnt from this cracking game;
1. This Arsenal team have shown fans more spirit, belief and determination this season than in 99% of the last two seasons’ games (especially when a memory of the Carling Cup against Birmingham City cuts through the alcohol fuelled amnesia that most Gooners prescribed themselves after that abject effort) and this was again clear in today’s performance away at another top four team’s ground. The team had enough energy to stage a great comeback, and this from an Arsenal side who in the past could well have dropped their heads at 1-0 and conceded more goals, especially after Manchester City’s confidence grew after half time. A great pair of performances too by young squad members covering injured seniors; Carl Jenkinson, a player who many fans believed last season had been pushed up several levels far too soon, and Vito Mannone, who, despite starring in another demonstration that Arsenal haven’t yet completely solved their set-piece defending (but does any team?) has emerged as a real contender for the #1 shirt. And I don’t think that header would’ve been saved had all of Arsenal’s goalies been on the line to be fair on Mannone. And today Gooners viewed an assured captain’s performance from Mikel Arteta, a player who is fast rocketing up the ‘Wenger’s best buys table’ (which currently stands at 1) Vieira, 2) Henry, 3) Pires, 4) Ljungberg, 5) Fabregas, 6) Petit, 7) Campbell, 8) Lehmann, 9) Anelka and 10) Overmars...in this author’s humble opinion).
2. Having praised Arsenal above and rightly so, the defensive nerves that peppered the mid-week display against Montpellier HSC were evident today. On 84 minutes, a scuffed clearance by Laurent Koscielny that went across his six yard box really should’ve been punished. But this is a minor gripe...and something that I am sure Steve Bould will beat out of them on Monday. However, as this was Koscielny’s first start this season, rustiness could have been a factor.
I recommend Gervinho is issued Thierry Henry’s and Dennis Bergkamp’s 100 Arsenal Goals DVDs to watch by Arsene Wenger
3. Gervinho is still a Jekyll and Hyde player. Going into this crucial match in the best form of his Arsenal career, Gervinho will feel aggrieved that on this showing, his shooting boots had clearly been left at home...and is fortunate that neither Oliver Giroud nor Theo Walcott have so far this season shown any sort of form to warrant a start ahead of him. Gervinho is a player who has astonishing pace, visionary skill and an eye for a pass. He just needs to work on his end product. Once he has mastered this (and I recommend he is issued Thierry Henry’s and Dennis Bergkamp’s 100 Arsenal Goals DVDs to watch by Arsene Wenger), then he really should be a 15-20 goals a season forward.
4.Manchester City haven’t stepped up a level this season after a summer of spending obscene amounts of money. The players they have signed this season; Javí Garcia, Scott Sinclair, Jack Rodwell, Richard Wright, Maicon and Matija Nastasic are all very good players, but with the exception of Maicon, none of them are regular internationals for their country (and Maicon is undeniably riding the downwards curve of his career’s arc) and they are not improvements on the players they were brought in to replace. Manchester City will look at the leads that they have conceded this week to Real Madrid and Arsenal and the conclusion will surely be that yet more petro-millions will need to be spent (what is known in the trade as ‘The Abramovich Decision’) in order to get the team where it is thought they should be...whether the powers that be on the City board will want to do this in January, what with FFP breathing down clubs’ necks and European cup competition earnings being withheld from 23 clubs by Michel Platini’s UEFA, is another matter for another piece.
5. Arsenal are bona fide title contenders at the moment (any title; cup or league) and are still unbeaten in the Premier League. The defence looks much, much better than in recent seasons, the midfield, despite Diaby’s faffing and fannying, and lack of reinforcing in the summer, looks fantastic; balanced and disciplined, and all whilst awaiting the return of Arsenal’s new #10, Jack Wilshere. Plus the attack looks hungry and potent, full of pace, skill and verve. The future, as will hopefully be emphasised in the forthcoming Capital One league cup game against Coventry (this Wednesday), is red and white. Let’s just hope Giroud can break his canard!
Follow Greg on Twitter: @GregCross82
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