...Questions to ponder following the 6-2 thrashing from City.
There will be no more talk about Arsenal’s strong defence, as they struggled to deal with the number of bodies that City pushed forward at every opportunity. Yet despite the beating, one feels that Arsenal may have got something from the game with a little more rest.
The first half featured a strong start by Manchester City, keeping possession and pinning Arsenal inside their own half. Eventually they scored off a corner, Aguero pouncing on Michelis’s headed cross. Arsenal responded by coming more into the game, but their passing lacked a sharpness at times. However they were able to score when Walcott converted a Ramsey cross, despite the strike lacking much pace.
Manchester City were able to again take advantage of all the space Arsenal left in midfield, when Silva found Zabaleta free on the right and he fed Negredo in the middle for City’s second.
Unfortunately Koscielny hurt himself on the play and had to be replaced by Vermaelen. There may have been a hint of offside in the buildup, which contrasted with the other end where Arsenal were incorrectly flagged for offside twice.
The second half proved a nightmare for Arsenal as City pounced on Arsenal errors and threw players forward eager to add to their scoreline, this despite Aguero leaving the field injured.
Arsenal’s first error was a poor pass from Ozil, which Fernandinho intercepted and dribbled unopposed to the Arsenal penalty area and picked his spot.
Arsenal responded and a sharper Olivier Giroud might have scored twice in the next few minutes. Theo Walcott did score though, chipping the ball over the tall Pantilimon.
Martin Atkinson would rear his ugly head at this point, waving away a clear handball decision that denied Arsenal a penalty.
It was at this point that Arsenal might have climbed back into the game, but their legs looked a little tired and the midfield was being overrun by Navas, Toure, Nasri, and Silva. It was Silva who made Arsenal pay for another giveaway, converting a Navas cross and making the score 4-2.
Flamini’s exit meant Arsenal were still intent on getting back into the game, but it just created extra space for City. Gnabry, who had replaced Flamini, made a poor pass which Fernandinho punished to make it 5-2.
As extra-time beckoned Arsenal scored their third, Mertesacker heading home a nice Sagna cross. However, City added a sixth, Szczesny tripped Milner in the box and Toure converted the penalty.
Szczesny 6. Not a great game from the Pole, but he was let down by the players in front of him who gifted so many chances to City. He wasn’t culpable on any of them, but he could have avoided bringing down Milner at the end.
Sagna 7. Generally kept his flank under control. He made a couple of poor passes, but he got forward and put in a couple of good crosses. One of them found the head of Mertesacker for Arsenal’s third.
Mertesacker 6. Per had a hard time out there today, lots of speedy players running at him. He could’ve been tighter on Silva for City’s fourth goal. Scored late in the game.
Koscielny 6. Couldn’t stop Negredo from scoring the second. To top it off he hurt himself and had to come off the field.
Monreal 5. A nightmare for Nacho out there. His flank was always under assault and several times he wasn’t there when needed. He was also brushed off the ball several times.
Flamini 6. He tried hard, but was overrun a number of times.
Ramsey 6. I thought he actually played better in the second half when Arsenal were trying to find a way back into the game. Didn’t do anything particularly noteworthy.
Wilshere 6. Made a number of errant passes in the first half. Tried hard, but he appeared quite leggy by the end of the game. Took a great shot in the second half which Pantilimon had to dive and push past the post.
Walcott 7. Arsenal’s man of the match. Two goals in his first start since his injury. He could have had one or two more, but Pantilimon made the saves.
Ozil 6. Drifted in and out of the game. Made the poor pass which gifted Fernandinho his first. Came to life in the second half for a while, but he too appeared tired by the end.
Giroud 6. Giroud worked hard but came away unrewarded. A poor touch squandered what was his best chance of the day and a header, which narrowly missed the goal, were chances that Arsenal needed him to convert.
Vermaelen 6. Came in and had a pretty good outing in a tough match. He was not the reason we shipped six goals.
Gnabry 6. Provided some spark near the end, but he also gifted City their fifth goal on a poor pass.
Bendtner 6. A very close call by the linesman denied Bendtner a goal late in the match.
Source: Arsenal World