As City prepare for three of the club’s most important fixtures in a decade, Gary Owen gives us his viewpoint on The Blues’ hard fought point achieved at Arsenal…
‘It was unfair to say that City were too negative at Arsenal. First and foremost, going to Arsenal at any time is not an easy place to go. At any other time we would be delighted with a draw at Arsenal. We’ve taken four points of them this season and you can’t argue with that. We have come away with fourth place still in our own hands.
‘Away from home, especially if it’s going to be a tight game as Arsenal was always going to be, you must always aim to keep it tight for the first 15 minutes of both halves and don’t give the home fans the initiative of a goal. If you quieten the fans you quieten the team and we did that.
‘Chances were limited for both sides and apart from a 15 minute period where we started to threaten in the second half, City didn’t look like scoring, but to be fair, Shay Given didn’t have many saves to make, the main one being when he was injured.
‘We restricted their efforts and chances on goal and in my opinion, I didn’t feel that under pressure, which is unusual. I felt the same way against United. Two games where at no stage did I feel that we were being bombarded.
‘The neutrals would say we played an Italian 4-5-1. But Mancini would look at it and ask if we played 4-3-3 with Bellamy and Johnson either side of Tevez? Manchester United have played like that in Europe for the past five years with two wide players and continue to do it with Valencia and Nani, so is that Alex Ferguson being Italian or negative? It works as a 4-5-1 when defending but can switch to 4-3-3 when attacking.
‘Even with my Blue tinted glasses on, a draw was a fair result as it should have been against United.
‘On the bigger picture, we have not been beaten by any of the so called big four sides outside of two last seconds defeats to United and with Tottenham losing to them, we are back to being within a point of Spurs and we still know that if we win all our remaining games, it won’t matter what anybody else does!
‘In my opinion, people get carried away with the season we’ve had. If we put it all into a nutshell, we brought in a lot of new players that all took some time to get used to each other very quickly. And guess what? We’ve got three games left and two of them are going to be against teams chasing us for that same Champions League position.
‘One is Villa, one is Spurs and we`ve got them both to come at home before we go to West Ham who have just escaped relegation. There cannot be one City fan at the start of this season who wouldn’t have said ‘I’ll take that!’
‘Sure, tough games are coming up but Villa and Spurs will know that if they get beat by City they will be out of it. Tottenham will be thinking that if they don’t get beaten by us, they will be in pole position. Like I have said all along, it is all going to come down to that Tottenham game and that we must beat them. In an ideal situation we’ll be going to West Ham for a nice afternoon out!
‘A final word on these rumours of player unrest over double training sessions under Roberto Mancini. The more you do something, the more it becomes natural and at this stage of the season the players need to be doing their jobs. On the continent, double training both morning and afternoon is normal. Carlo Ancellotti is doing the same at Chelsea. The idea is not to run people into the ground, it is to keep them clear and completely focused upon what is important in order to achieve the target.
‘City’s target is for us to lose, not somebody else to win.’
Gary’s Man of The Match:
“The way we were set up, Carlos Tevez worked his socks off up front in working hard at defending. Both Craig Bellamy and Adam Johnson`s strengths are in attacking, not defending but they both put a shift in. Meanwhile Nigel De Jong and Gareth Barry were putting in challenges all over the place. De Jong put more challenges in on Saturday then some people do in a season.
“Kolo Toure at the back was excellent alongside Vincent Kompany and even with Micah Richards coming on for the injured Wayne Bridge, everybody played their part.”
The VMC Forum Members Man of The Match versus Arsenal:
33. Vincent Kompany [40%]
28. Kolo Toure [30%]
18. Gareth Barry [15%]
1. Shay Given [10%]
5. Pablo Zabaleta [5%]
32. Carlos Tevez [40%]
3. Wayne Bridge [0%]
34. Nigel De Jong [0%]
24. Patrick Vieira [0%]
11. Adam Johnson [0%]
39. Craig Bellamy [0%]
37. Gunnar Nielsen [0%]
2. Micah Richards [0%]
25. Emmanuel Adebayor [0%]
The Story So Far:
FA Premier League unless stated.
Carlos Tévez, 9 (Bolton A, Spurs A, Wolves A, Blackburn H, the rags H, LCSF1, Chelsea A, Fulham A, Everton H, Wigan H)
Nigel de Jong, 5 (Fulham H LC R3, West Ham H, Wigan Athletic A, Liverpool A, Chelsea H)
Craig Bellamy, 4 (Arsenal H, the rags A, Villa A, Sunderland H)
Gareth Barry, 4 (Blackburn A, Portsmouth A, Stoke H, the rags H)
Shaun Wright-Phillips, 3 (C. Palace A LC R2, Burnley H, Arsenal H LC QF)
Wayne Bridge, 3 (Fulham H, Hull A, Stoke H, FAC5)
Vincent Kompany, 2 (Middlesbrough A FAC3, Arsenal A)
Adam Johnson, 2 (Bolton, H, Sunderland A)
Micah Richards, 2 (the rags A LCSF2, Stoke A)
Emmanuel Adebayor, 2 (Wolves H, Portsmouth H)
Shay Given, 2 (Birmingham A, Everton A)
Nedum Onuoha, 1 (Birmingham H)
Patrick Vieira, 1 (Burnley A)
Pablo Zabaleta, 1 (Liverpool H)
Martin Petrov, 1 (Scunthorpe A FAC4)
Roque Santa Cruz, 1 (Scunthorpe H LC R4)
City’s 1-1 throwaway against Hull City and the FA Cup exit at Stoke registered no winner.
VMC’s Previous Man Of The Season:
2007-2008 Elano Blumer
2008-2009 Stephen Ireland
Very many thanks and respect to Gary Owen for this latest exclusive interview. Stay tuned with VMC for The Aston Villa Match Preview with Gary later this week!
As well as being a widely respected, successful media personality and commentator, Gary is the Managing Director of GTC Management, one of the UKs leading independent utility procurement brokers.
To find out more go to:
GTC Management: ‘Reducing Costs,Saving Time and Providing Peace of Mind’
Interview copyright Vital Manchester City, Gary Owen and The Vital Football Network 2010.
A Play As We Dream Production.