Arsenal 1-1 Manchester City

It’s a mystery to me how the same team that keeled over and sank beneath the waves so spectacularly last weekend could, just a week later, give a passable impression of a side once again dining at the top table. I mix my metaphors like Arsenal mix their performances.

A far better display all round, with a rediscovery of better defensive resilience at its heart. If I try to work out what makes Arsenal tick I give myself a splitting headache, so I’ve given up trying. Much of our malaise has been in the mind, which is what makes it so hard to pinpoint. ‘Psychology – bloody hell’, to paraphrase a well-worn football saying.

In the circumstances, a draw was an excellent result. But frustrating too, if you look at the table, with us five points off the top, and wonder how things might have been different had we not gone full Light Brigade at Stamford Bridge.

We defended well, even with Sagna motoring forward to cross. It’s a shame the arm-waggling, shrugging Giroud could not be more effective, but he’s running on empty. There is no lead in the Giroud pencil (footballistically). Of course, Sagna chugging up the wing is a risky strategy, but there’s a very large Walcott-shaped hole on our right flank, so needs must.

In the midfield, Rosicky and Cazorla did well ahead of Arteta and Flamini. We worked harder off the ball, basically, and it showed.

The atmosphere was superb. It was really noisy and if you want to attribute that to the indomitable spirit of Arsenal fans, you’re very welcome to. Personally, I suspect an extra two and a half hours of beer had an effect…

We’re often accused of lacking tough, spiky players, which is odd given we have Flamini and Podolski. The former’s like a coiled spring, like a little yapping dog, and Podolski’s not scared to get in people’s faces either.

He’s an interesting conundrum is Podolski. His mistake led to City’s goal, and he often leaves enormous gaps on the left, making the full-back’s job harder, but there’s something about him I really like. He’s pretty quick, his crossing is excellent and he can score (should have scored yesterday, maybe, but Hart saved well). It’s been a very fitful season but he’s scored eight goals in twelve starts – good stats. So when the summer reckoning comes to pass, I hope he stays.

I leave you with this thought:

Diaby’s back in training this week.