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Manchester City vs. Arsenal: Spineless, gutless and predictable.

Monday 19th December 2016
Nine points behind leaders Chelsea and still reeling from their second defeat of the season, Arsenal travelled to the Etihad with a mission at hand. An opportunity to show the World that Tuesday night was a blip and their 'new' branded mentality wasn't a myth. 

Man City, in a similar vein, found themselves in a mini crisis after only winning one home game in three months. As the two alleged title contenders locked horns in a clash where challenges were on the line, one rose to the occasion while the other proved their detractors right.
Injuries and suspensions left Pep Guardiola without key players Ilkay Gündoğan, Kun Agüero & Fernandinho for the visit of the Gunners. In response, City fielded an interesting line-up with the exclusion of John Stones and Kelechi Iheanacho, opting to deploy Kevin De Bruyne as a false 9. Wenger made one change to the team that lost to Everton, bringing in Alex Iwobi for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the left.
Arsenal started the game with their usual 4-2-3-1 and like the Gunners usually do away at top 6 teams; Set up for the counter attack. The 4-2-3-1 reverted into a cautious 4-5-1 off the ball. Despite the defensive set up, Arsenal went down to two goals due to a mixture of poor positioning and lacklustre officiating. Nevertheless, Arsenal was caught with their pants down for the second time in a week.

Here are 4 things that went wrong for the Gunners:

1) Arsenal allowed Man City to play the game too much in their own half: the stats show that 60% of the action took place in their own portion of the pitch, with 8% happening in the 18-yard box compared to the 3% that happened in City's box.

2) Arsenal was ineffective in winning the ball either through tackles or aerial duels: we only won 27% of our tackles and 39% of the aerial duels. Once again, Wenger's men were outmuscled and physically dominated by their opponents.

3) The Gunners' ball distribution and on-ball decisions were poor. Throughout the game, the away team only maintained a 76% pass accuracy that would have been acceptable for a Tony Pulis team, but that's just not Arsenal; the side that brought the passing revolution to the Premier League. Moreover, we held the ball for too long and seemed to dribble into the wrong positions.

4) Wenger persisted with the chosen tactic despite things not working. Tactical flexibility is one of the most important aspects of modern football and it's fair to say Wenger doesn't have that trait. He persisted in sitting deep, to invite pressure and hit on the break. If you want success through the counter like they had set up for, problems two and three cannot coexist. Wenger's men couldn't win the ball in advantageous positions to launch the dangerous counters and when we did win the ball, we gave it right back to City through inaccurate passes and poorly timed dribbles.

Many will say that this is the same old Arsenal, bottling big games when the pressure is truly on, and it's hard to argue with them. If Chelsea weren't looking so unstoppable, I'd say it's only Christmas and that there are plenty of points still to be won. But even if Chelsea were to drop points in the near future, there's no guarantee that this spineless Arsenal team would even capitalise anyway.

No team on the planet has a God-given right to win every single game but fans at least expect a certain level of effort from their players. As an Arsenal fan, these results are not a surprise anymore, it's just a surprise as to how a club can lose the same type of match, in the same pathetic manner, year after year.
Mathaeus Abuwa

Arsenal fan with ample amounts of passion for both Cristiano Ronaldo & Real Madrid. I'm one of those bandwagonist hipster fans that will claim to know everything about football, but only watches the El Clasico outside of the Premier League. Forgive me, I'm trying. Oh yeah, #WengerOut. 


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