Clean sheet, dented goalposts, but no goals

Arsenal 0-0 Manchester City

In the pub beforehand, there wasn’t a single member of our party who envisaged anything other than a home win, and some of us thought we might get three goals (I think I went for 2-1). All I can say in hindsight is it’s a good job none of us are bookmakers by trade. Pre-match exuberance, eh.

It was pretty clear from the off that it would be tight, with City defending diligently and chasing us down off the ball. Nevetheless, the opening 20 minutes were our best period of the game.

I got a few disagreeing tweets last night when I suggested post match that it had been a game of ‘few chances’. Perhaps an overreaction borne of frustration on my part, but it is true that it was a game predominantly of half chances, with a few three-quarter chances thrown in. Nevertheless, in a tight game with a defensively savvy and pretty unambitious opponent, you need to make more of the chances you do get and clearly we were not able to do that.

It might aesthetically be your cup of tea – it’s certainly not mine these days – but there is much to admire in defensive obduracy. I grew up on a diet of George Graham and we would revel in stifling our opponents and nicking goals. City were content to do the same with the odd attempt to forage goalwards.

It’s no wonder they have kept the highest amount of clean sheets; when they choose to, they sit and stifle and they do it very well. I suspect most teams would have struggled to break that down.

I was impressed again with Song and Wilshere, shielding from deep, and Djourou / Koscielny both receive nods of approval. Theirs is clearly the best central defensive partnership we have at the moment. Interesting tweets from the Guardian’s @seaningle this morning:

“Last night was the first time this season that Arsenal have dropped a point in the PL when Johan Djourou has played (P9 W8 D1) …”

“… and think I’m right in saying that Arsenal haven’t lost a PL game with Djourou since 22nd November 2008 v Man City (P21 W18 D3 L0)”

So two successive nil nils against City at home, but this one was not as eye-rollingly dull as the one at the tail end of last season. City were equally cautious then, but the added ingredient was that we were entirely ineffective in May whereas last night we had a lot more to us. It was an intriguing battle in the end – and as Wengerball says, it was a clash of ideologies that made for good viewing.

Sadly, we couldn’t snaffle the three points but c’est la vie.

And on the plus side – Arsenal’s kit lady will have had one less kit to wash. Fabianski’s jersey can go straight back on the peg.

8 thoughts on “Clean sheet, dented goalposts, but no goals

  1. Interesting about Djourou. Can we reprise the old chim chimney song? Who needs Bill Gallas when we’ve got Djourou?

  2. I would say I enjoyed that match. I can never argue with a good performance. Ah, I dream of goals, but good approach play too.

  3. I liked the run and shot that Wilshere tried early on. Good power in the shot. Needs to work on placement.

  4. If we weren’t pushing to win the league I’d be very pleased with the outcome but I never in a million years expected City to lack ambition to that extent. Fascinating about Djourou and although he had little to do much of that was due to him doing what was needed so brilliantly.

    Concern – after 60 minutes of not unlocking their 8-1-1 formation we didn’t seem to change our approach one iota. Also – never seen Sagna look so riled before…what led to that, it wasn’t that incident alone.

  5. Big Johan has really come of age this season. He turns 24 in a couple of weeks, and we’re finally seeing the promise Arsene signed. Thanks to being over injuries.

    He has been criticised before but I think we Gooners forget the age of some of our players at times. We have been blessed with the likes of Cesc and Wilshere looking the finished article at 17/18. But most have taken a little more time.

    Gooners (myself included) should remember this when we criticise Bendtner, Clichy, Denilson and others.

    Overall I thought our performance was good, GG said you can put 10 dustbins in the penalty area and world class players would struggle to score. Give those dustbins arms and legs and organisation and it becomes impossible.

  6. Big Johan has really come of age this season. He turns 24 in a couple of weeks, and we’re finally seeing the promise Arsene signed. Thanks to being over injuries.

    He has been criticised before but I think we Gooners forget the age of some of our players at times. We have been blessed with the likes of Cesc and Wilshere looking the finished article at 17/18. But most have taken a little more time.

    Gooners (myself included) should remember this when we criticise Bendtner, Clichy, Denilson and others.

    Overall I thought our performance was good, GG said you can put 10 dustbins in the penalty area and world class players would struggle to score. Give those dustbins arms and legs and organisation and it becomes impossible.

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