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Arsenal 0 Manchester City 0

Arsenal 0 Manchester City 0

The end of season feeling is becoming very pervasive now. Yesterday mathematically curtailed our chances of winning the title; it was the last Saturday of the season for Arsenal, the penultimate home match. Had it not been for last week`s pathetic capitulation and the return of a particular raggy-doll-a-like striker, there would have been zero anticipation for this game at all. The end of season feeling had been amplified by the glorious sunshine and the first time I`d been able to attend a game in shirt sleeves and shades since August. I spoke to friends on Friday with envy as they anticipated Millwall`s run in at the top of an incredibly close run race for promotion from League One. A lack of intensity in Arsenal`s last couple of fixtures has been a feature of the last few seasons now.

As I approached the stadium around ten minutes before kick off I could hear a venomous chorus of boos, no prizes for guessing who they were for. Of course Patrick Vieira was treated to a rapturous reception as the teams lined up, applauding all four sides of the stadium as his name was sung warmly. Emmanuel Adebayor was spared initially, named on the bench so that Mancini could adopt a more calcio style with Tevez ploughing a lone furrow upfront. Tottenham`s defeat at Old Trafford earlier in the day might well have influenced City`s tactics. From the off it was obvious that City were content with a 0-0 draw, with de Jong, Vieira and Barry sitting in front of the back four. Arsenal, shorn of Fabregas and Arshavin and with van Persie lacking match fitness, lacked the necessary guile to break them down. The Gunners did have plenty of brawn; Abou Diaby seemed to take his duel with Patrick Vieira very seriously indeed whilst Alex Song showed is what we had been missing in front of our defence. Arsenal took a good thirty four minutes to sting the palms of Shay Given when van Persie found a slide rule pass into the path of Nasri in the left hand channel and his left foot shot from a tight angle forced Given into a comfortable parry. The supporters seemed intent on trying to unnerve Fabianski too, there was a point in the first half when a back pass was rolled towards him, he had total control when he took an extra step back to add leverage to his kick, but the home fans began to scream nervously despite the fact Fabianski had the situation under complete control. City threatened only once, when Craig Bellamy picked up a ball on the left and found that Patrick Vieira had galloped into some space between the centre halves, but Campbell snuffed out Bellamy`s pass to deny his old Invincible colleague. That is pretty much all there is to say about a drab first half, other than the presence of an 'Eboue is my homeboy` banner on the North West corner of the ground and a 'Vote Eboue on May 6th` one in the North Upper. They might well have been the only decorations in sight that prevented my eyes from bleeding completely.

The atmosphere, if not the game, were briefly livened up by the introduction of Emmanuel Adebayor. An interesting dichotomy was created as he replaced Patrick Vieira, who was given a standing ovation, whilst Adebayor was booed more brutally than I recall any player being booed by the Arsenal support. Cole and Anelka didn`t get it half this bad. It was interesting that when the teams returned to the pitch at half time and Adebayor moved back towards the bench, not one Arsenal player approached him. What makes the Adebayor situation different as that his ex colleagues appear to reserve the same disdain that we supporters do. But the cauldron like atmosphere still couldn`t stir the game into any life, with City increasingly happy to sit and hold the 0-0. From my lofty position, they had an extremely good chance to score themselves as Arsenal were open on the counter attack, but they didn`t seem to want to take it. Arsenal threw on Bendtner and Eboue in vague hope of producing something noteworthy in the final third. Nasri and Rosicky are good players, but both are a little too 'safe` for my liking. Particularly Rosicky, who seems to have lost the ability to take responsibility anymore. He made his name at Arsenal by being direct and positive, nowadays he almost never gives the ball away to the opposition, but seems increasingly accustomed to shuffling the ball to a surrounded Arsenal player before scuttling off into a position where he could not possibly receive the ball. Nasri too is a neat enough player, but lacks the bravery of a Fabregas or an Arshavin, who will try and create an opportunity if they see only the unlikeliest glimmer of one.

Bendtner did give us a little direction initially, combining with the jinking Eboue to put in a dangerous low cross which probably would only have been attacked by Bendtner himself of Arsenal`s current side. The Gunners first notable shot of the half came when Diaby powered forwards into space and drove a low shot which Given brilliantly tipped around the post, dislocating his shoulder in the process. In the few minutes it took to treat him, the RedSection got their chance to let Adebayor know their feelings. His constant touching of the posts and crossbar betraying his discomfort. City became all the more defensive as it became clear Arsenal were not going to break them down. On the few occasions they did fancy a flutter on the counter, the quite excellent Campbell and Silvestre mopped up with ease. The Gunners` last late chance appeared when Eboue tried to make inroads into the penalty area, only to be tripped by Zabaleta. Van Persie lined up the free kick and opened his body out, suggesting he was going to whip the ball into the far corner, but at the last moment he clipped a beautifully disguised free kick narrowly over the bar of the near corner with Gunnar Nielsen utterly deceived by the subtlety of van Persie`s run up. It was the only aesthetically pleasing moment of a dull, Serie A-lite encounter. City came for the 0-0 and had few problems in getting it. Arsenal were clearly scarred by previous defeats whilst Spurs` defeat left City with the room to play tactically. Without Arshavin and Fabregas and with van Persie still feeling his way back in, the home side lacked the x factor. In the end, it was an incredibly dull game and one that will not live any further in my memory once I hit 'publish.`LD.

21.FABISANKI, 3.SAGNA, 31.CAMPBELL, 18.SILVESTRE, 22.CLICHY, 17.SONG, 2.DIABY, 8.NASRI, 14.WALCOTT (27.Eboue `68), 7.ROSICKY (52.Bendtner `68), 11.v.PERSIE(c). Unused: 9.Eduardo, 12.Vela, 24.Mannone, 30.Traore.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Sunday April 25 2010
Time: 1:34PM


A much better performance yesterday, but like you Tim, the game will not live long in the memory. However, it was nice to welcome back PV4 yesterday. In a perverse way, I almost wished he had scored after he had glided into the box before being snuffed out by Sol. Paddy has always epitomised everything that is good about football, and I think we gave one of our ' Invincibles ' a fitting reception as he brings the curtain down on a glittering career. I really enjoyed the hostility shown towards Ade, but am a little troubled by the input from Theo yesterday. It was another ' little boy lost ' performance, and I have a real worry that he is unable to fulfill his potential. Considering he was playing for a World Cup place, it has to be said that he was awful yesterday.
Cockney Rich
25/04/2010 14:25:00
Little Dutch did it look like the players were actaully giving 100%?? I didn't really care about the result, i just wanted to see that the players really wanted to put on a performance for the fans after last week, but from what i saw on MOTD they looked very lacklusture.
25/04/2010 14:30:00
There was no doubt the players put in the hard yards yesterday, but you could tell recent results had left their mark. City are a good side that came for a 0-0, it's tough enough when average sides come for a 0-0, we don't often get it from teams with the players City has.
Little Dutch
25/04/2010 14:31:00
Tim, Clichy put in a decent shift yesterday, but as one of my mates remarked at the time, it was a ' shop window ' performance. True or not ??
Cockney Rich
25/04/2010 14:54:00
As the saying goes, it takes two to tango, and neither side put in what could be described as a stellar performance. We looked a better side with Adebayor on the pitch, but I think everyone can understand why he didn't start! To be honest, I'm happy with a point, as this is a game we dared not lose, and with our midfield lacking creativity (something which will be rectified in the summer I'm sure) we were always going to struggle to create chances against a team of arsenal's abilities. Tevez is currently carrying a knock which is hampering him, and I'm sure the injuries to both Bridge and Given hampered Mancini's ability to bring on players with greater attacking intent (such as SWP and Ireland) as he undoubtedly intended to do as the game wore on. So please forgive me for rebuffing your criticisms about us being too negative, as we have shown in previous away matches that Mancini likes to keep things tight in the first half and then attack in the second, as at Chelsea away. Yesterday we couldn't do that due to the enforced substitutions and were forced to cling on for a point rather than setting up that way for the entire game. In short, it wasn't our fault that we had to esort to Serie A tactics!
25/04/2010 15:07:00
A point was a good result for City and I don't criticise them for going for it. Adebayor for Vieira looked to be an offensive move, but in truth that never materialised. I think there were times we looked open for the counter attack late on but the City player was happy to play for a throw in. But I'm not criticising that, a point was a good result for City, not a bad one for us, sometimes you've got to play the percentages and City did that well. That will likely serve them well in Europe next year- particularly in two legged games.
Little Dutch
25/04/2010 16:38:00
Depressing, despair inducing. The most un-English game in England of all time.
Tony Rocky Horror
25/04/2010 18:19:00
Clichy said that since he had been out 3 months, it would take him 3 months to get back to his best. Gael has been stellar since the Barcelona games. It is vital to keep him.
25/04/2010 19:00:00
Wasnt by any means a classic. I think with the exception of when Adebayor came on, we were the only team that really pressed. Citeh just did not open themselves up too much cause I think they were being scared of being hit on the counter. Shame both teams didnt go for it cause I think there could have been a few goals in this game.
25/04/2010 19:23:00
When Silvestre was letting the ball roll back to Fabianski, he ran along the ball instead of stopping at a halt (many players do this as it is adviced to avoid injuries), but the home crowd shouted LEAVE IT!!! This is no better than booing your own player, some of these fans at the Emirates never learn.
25/04/2010 21:25:00
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