Finally, finally, Arsene Wenger’s side have put in a truly great performance in a big game. Goals from Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud condemned the Citizens to their first loss in 12 games, piling pressure on Manuel Pellegrini and demonstrating that the Gunners are not to be written off this season. Let’s take a look at some of the talking points:
Man City are in trouble
Always good to start off with some melodrama, right? In all seriousness, the repercussions of this loss should not be underestimated. The result leaves the Citizens a full five points shy of Chelsea in top spot, and following their 5-0 thrashing of Swansea, it looks as if Jose Mourinho’s side are in imperious form heading into the third quarter of the season. City must get back on the horse quickly if they want to remain in this title race. The reality is that they could already be out of it.
This Arsenal side could be the real deal
After a number of years in which the Gunners have been well below the standard required to win the title, it seems as if they could nearly be there once again. With a strong back four, hardworking and talented midfielders and the outrageously gifted Sanchez and Cazorla supporting the highly effective centre forward Giroud, Wenger has built a team who can beat anyone on their day. With Ozil and Walcott returning from injury, the Frenchman will soon have one of those selection headaches that every boss must crave; something that bodes extremely well as we head towards the business end of the season.
Wenger must speculate to accumulate
The question for Arsenal now is: how far can they go? This win at the Etihad took them into fifth, just one point below United in fourth, and Wenger must now decide what finish would be realistic for North London’s premier team.
In the past, the Frenchman has been rather reticent to spend, but given that his side only lie six points shy of second, one might suggest that given the necessary reinforcements, a shot at the title is a possibility. The chances of Wenger really going for it are, naturally, rather slim, but the Gunners could certainly do with at least another defender if they are to realise their potential this year.
Less possession was the order of the day
Despite recording only 35 per cent possession, Arsenal were the dominant side at the Etihad, which is a sea change from the Arsenal of old. Wenger teams of the last few years would often dominate possession but fail to create the clear-cut chances that led to goals – not any more. With ruthless attackers like Sanchez and Cazorla, and a vastly improved finisher in Giroud, Wenger’s side can make their possession count, even when it’s considerably less than the opposition.
Kompany is no longer the rock City need
For a number of years, Vincent Kompany was the premier defender in England. On the basis of his performances this season, those days are long gone.
The Belgian has been relied upon for so long by City, but the reality is that the skipper has become something of a liability. His propensity to get up the pitch and into midfield areas may be entertaining, but for a Citizens defence that requires a robust shield in front of their penalty area, it is at times disastrous. Despite his protestations, the player can have no issue with the penalty which paved the way for the devastating loss, and given Pellegrini’s lack of options, it would be no surprise to see another central defender arrive in the next week or so to take pressure off Kompany.