View From The North Bank: Arsenal 1 Man City 0
What a performance, what a win, what an atmosphere. This match had it all – great team selection; great football (from one team); not one, but two pantomime villains; a screamer of a winning goal, and the greatest of all piss taking celebrations. Let’s all do the Poznan!
Forget the fact that we’ve handed the title to United, we needed to win yesterday – even more so after such a disappointing performance at Loftus Road last week – and we did so in pragmatic style.
We’ve been oft-criticised for being weak of mind (and of physique, you can bully The Arsenal!) but this Arsenal team have shown throughout this season that they are hungrier and stronger than any Arsenal team since the Invincibles.
As we’ve seen in big wins this season, the midfield tempo is fundamental, and again Song, Rosicky and Arteta set the tone and totally dominated Man City’s midfield – as they did that of Sp*rs six weeks ago.
Panic buy, Arteta, was fantastic yet again. His passing (below) was accurate in all areas of the field. The complete midfield performance. He looks as though he’s been running our midfield for years and that is exactly what Arsene Wenger knew he needed as soon as Fabregas got his way and sealed his move home.
I’ve read on various blogs and tweets this season that Arteta passes sideways and often keeps possession for possession’s sake. What he actually does is his job. Arsenal don’t play with a holding midfield player (if I hear people talking about Song as a defensive midfielder again, I’m going to start posting videos of David Hillier, Steve Morrow and John Jenson to remind Gooners of what we endured pre-Wenger) Wenger utilises Arteta and Song as a midfield base.
Song and Arteta complement each other in archetypal midfield roles whereby they are asked to defend, control, dictate and attack. Song is no more a defensive midfield player than Vieira was. That is exactly the reason why Wenger is very keen on signing Yann M’Villa, to provide stability, especially away from home.
Back to Arteta; he has arguably been Arsenal’s most consistent performer this season along with Van Persie, Koscielny and Sagna. He is also very good in the dressing room and on the training ground. A consummate pro that offers time and advice to young players. Yesterday, a fine strike capped a marvellous display from Arteta – a number 8 you can truly rely upon.
Song and Rosicky played a huge part yesterday also, harrying and putting their bodies on the line, whilst driving Arsenal forward in possession. Song’s strength is vital for Arsenal, as is his vision in the final third. If only he could cut out the lazy passes in his own third, that is the obvious area for him to work on.
Rosicky v.2.0 is now, in my opinion, even better than the original Rosicky. He has really found his form again and just shows that the trust and perseverance from Wenger has come good. When all around him were suggesting he should cut his losses, Wenger kept faith in Rosicky. It’s been a long road back for Super Tom but he has stepped up when we’ve needed him most, in the absence of Wilshere and with Ramsey out of form.
Most of the headlines today are about Mario Balotelli without much focus on how well we played yesterday, which in some ways is good for the team. Balotelli highlights an important factor to me: Gooners have been crying out for Arsenal to sign a star name, but often enough the game is all about them. As Wenger has said before; we don’t buy stars, we make them. Podolski may buck that recent trend so let’s hope that doesn’t backfire!
The visitors’ tactics were poor, as was evident in the acres of space that Sagna attacked all game. What a return to the team by Sagna by the way. We missed him badly during his three month absence and Arsenal’s, and Walcott’s, return to form since Sagna’s return has been no coincidence.
Benayoon impressed yesterday also, putting in a professional performance. The tackle he made on Zabeletta early in the second half was brilliant and exactly the kind of effort you wouldn’t see from Arshavin and a certain former left sided midfielder that played there last season. Benayoon was also tagged a ‘panic buy’, yet he has come good in big games this season, namely Villa away, 5pur2 and Liverpool away. That kind of squad player that can come in, put a shift in and perform in big pressure games is vital.
We’re not out of the woods yet, but who would’ve dreamed we’d be in this good a shape after Old Trafford? Enjoy it Gooners.
Keep the faith.