Arsenal 1-0 Manchester City
One-nil to the Arsenal, and as one goal wins go, that one was as sweet as it was deserved.
Sweet because we needed a win and we needed a performance after that baffling foot-off-the-pedal defeat at QPR. Wenger said it was a blip and that yesterday we’d see the real Arsenal back – the one utterly reinvigorated since February – and he was right.
And sweet because, well, it’s Man City isn’t it – the gaudily assembled team who have for several years now covetously eyed our players, and if you believe everything you read, continue to do so.
Toure and Adebayor, Clichy and Nasri – good players all but do we now miss any of them? We do not.
And deserved because only one team made any real running at all. We started and ended the game so hungrily, retaining the ball well, always looking to pass, pass, pass and eager to win it back when we did lose it. Although it looked towards the end that we’d pay the price for hitting the post twice and somehow clearing a nailed-on van Persie goal off our own line, sheer persistence had its reward with Arteta’s late thunderclapping howitzer.
How it remained XI v XI as long as it did shall remain one of life’s mysteries, right up there with Why Do My Headphone Cables Always Entwine Within Five Seconds Of Being In My Pocket. (The status of Where Are All The Baby Pigeons has since been set to: resolved).
Balotelli may well be a nice fella and he’s definitely richly talented, but he’s bafflingly brainless too and his knee-high studs-up tackle on Song was a red card about twice over. (On that subject, I did enjoy Arseblog News’ By the Numbers this morning). That Song – who was magnificent all afternoon – was not badly hurt is a big relief.
There were some impressive performances across the pitch and good though Song was, he wasn’t the only one worth praising. Rosicky and Arteta were excellent, Benayoun was tigerish and defensively we were excellent. It’s a shame that Gibbs retired hurt but Santos is a tidy replacement indeed. The other downside was Koscielny’s yellow, his tenth of the season, which rules him out for a few games.
Back into third we go, two points clear, but the battle for third and fourth remains immense and the difference between all four teams just five points.
There’s a long way to go.