Manchester City edged a point closer to Spurs and the fourth and final Champions League spot after an evenly contested 0-0 stalemate at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.
The chances were very few and far between and both sides nullified the opposition. The point ensured Arsenal`s title challenge was mathematically over, but for City it did little but again emphasise the importance of the two home clashes against Villa and most notably Spurs. The major incident to arise was a terrible shoulder injury to Shay Given which will end his part in the chase for fourth.
Manchester City and Arsenal are two footballing sides, they like the ball played to feet and more often than not both sides play with a remarkably fast tempo that most opposition find extremely difficult to cope with. The last time these sides met in the league there were six goals, a stamp, an over exuberant celebration and an away crowd baying for blood. However, today was a complete contrast, neither side put together any meaningful attacking combinations, the strikers were isolated, the crowd were stifled and a shot on target was unbelievably rare.
We looked set up for a point, Mancini had packed the midfield, his prerogative was to get amongst their opponents and hoping to hit them on the counter attack. The counter attacking was futile, defensively we were solid, didn’t give the opponents time to dwell, but for the purist this wasn`t the City they had hoped for. Mancini has adopted an approach which shows he lives in fear of losing against the greater opposition rather than causing an upset. Similar to last week and Liverpool, we failed to create opportunities, we were very tedious to watch and our potent attacking threat gave less entertainment than Strictly Come Dancing. We failed to perform as an attacking threat, Tevez was a sole opponent to the Arsenal defence, lacking energy and drive our approach was easily thwarted.
A point is certainly nothing to be ashamed about from our point of view, but with Arsenal fighting for nothing and missing key players we could have perhaps entered top gear at least once. Both ourselves and the opposition didn’t look disappointed with a point though and Arsenal are planning for next season after another trophy-less campaign. Wenger has been a firm believer of youth, determined that his young side would reach the heights he has predicted. Despite being extremely entertaining and the best footballing side in the Country, they’re missing that gratification, the success that they believe is deserved. With reported money to spend, they need to be hopeful of winning things again, if they see this as a reality then there certainly needs to be some changes. For the duration of the 90 minutes, Arsenal failed to break down their resolute opponents, without Fabregas they lack that linchpin, the performer who knits it all together and that was evident on today`s display. They had the territorial possession but neither Given or his replacement Nielsen were troubled.
Van Persie was always their catalyst, but Kompany and Toure were resolute, their defensive partnership is growing and for 90 minutes they were unbeatable. Nigel de Jong and Barry protected them all afternoon and the cleansheet never really looked in doubt. The shots on goals were replaced by defensive sturdy-ness. City`s greatest attacking threat came with the arrival of Adebayor, facing his well documented abuse, he gave adventure, an added injection of desire, but the lack of adventure from his team-mates proved crucial with no attempts for the under-pressure Fabianski to deal with. Vieira might have rampaged his way forward but that’s the best we had to offer unfortunately.
The afternoon did nothing to the current standings, fourth is tighter than ever and the Title is definitely a two horse race. Both teams may look at the positive defensive displays, but in truth the laborious nature of play deserves more looking at.
Given – 6
Had absolutely nothing to do until he was sadly stretchered off. Everyone wishes a full and quick recovery.
Zabaleta – 7
Asked to play both Right Back and Left back he gave his usal defensive and determined approach. He prevented Walcott all game and never lacked bite.
Toure – 8
Since Lescott has been sidelined with his second bad injury, Toure has performed admirably. Facing deserved criticism he has certainly up’ed his game and he looked very determined against his old club.
Kompany – 9
With the attacking non-existent a defiant defensive display was needed from Mr dependable. He timed everything to perfection, his tackling was solid and his awareness was acute. Great display and partnership.
Bridge – 3
Vieira – 7
Showed his predecessors how it was done. One of his better displays, he was strong and at one point rampaged forward like old.
De Jong – 7
Another combative, strong and sturdy defensive display. Provided protection.
Barry – 8
Impressed Mr Capello. Defensively he was solid but could have probably attacked more. Never shirked or lost a challenge.
Johnson – 7
Couldn’t get into the game. He had very little support and couldn’t provide his usual magic.
Bellamy – 6
Our best offensive player. He tried to create and make the runs but again had very little support.
Tevez – 5
The lone striker was isolated for 90 minutes. He didn’t look his usual best and failed to cause an ageing defence problems.
Richards – 6
Strong and fitted in very well.
Adebayor – 6
Gave an injection of adventure but didn’t get a goal he would have craved.
Stepped in well.