Wednesday 21 December 2011

Drawing strength from defeat

Manchester City 1 Arsenal 0
It isn’t often nowadays that I agree with Arsene’s summary of a match but his judgement on the Man City performance was spot on – encouraging, but we needed points as well as encouragement.

The key difference between the two sides was our inability to convert good opportunities into chances.

Too often Gervinho and Ramsey would make a bad choice or fail to execute after making the right decision, leaving Van Persie lacking ammo. From recollection he only had one real chance while Aguero had several – if we could have carved out the same number perhaps we would have got a point or more.

In fairness to Man City I thought they defended well and Kompany and Zabaleta, in particular, locked down their left side and allowed Walcott virtually no room for manoeuvre.

The immediate impact, which again Wenger admitted, is that any faint hope of a title challenge is all but mathematically snuffed out with the defeat.

But there is no reason why the team can’t still draw strength from the performance. Despite fielding a defence which required yet another rejig after Djourou became the latest injury casualty, we hung on in there against a side that has been blowing away other opponents.

At times we almost stretched to snapping point as we chased an equaliser a little too desperately but overall we showed more resilience than we have in other big away games in recent years. It is something we have shown consistently now for a few months – perhaps coaching and organisational changes have been made and are having an effect, though we shouldn’t overlook how big a factor a fit Thomas Vermaelen is.

Anyway, now any dreams of the title are over, the target is clear – fourth place and a Champions League place. We need to start another run of wins quickly, hopefully with the trip to Villa tonight. The absence of the suspended Song, coupled with a depleted defence, makes it tricky but we can’t afford to let the mini-revival go to waste.

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