The first half started well and for 40 minutes we dominated the game with the solid defence, positivity and fluidity of play that has characterised our season so far. We had two great chances, first with Gervinho who wasted with a too heavy touch, and then from Jenkinson with a pass to Podolski that sadly wasn’t coverted into a goal.
Once again, Merts was crucial in defence and Cazorla was the star player we have come to know and depend on, even managing to stop the beast that is Yaya Toure in his prime. The team gave their all really putting Man City under pressure and you felt they really deserved a goal but yet again we failed to reflect the quality of our play in the scoreline.
The only real criticism in the whole first 40 minutes was that Gervinho could have been better not losing possession occasionally and perhaps we overplayed it when we did look dangerous in the box, but even that’s being picky. We looked the better side.
And then it happened.
Lescott scored after Gibbs unnecessarily gave away a corner, leading to criticism of our zonal defending. It may only have been our second conceded goal of the season but boy did it hurt, particularly given how good we had looked until that point.
As the second half started, we initially seemed to have lost the domination and discipline of the first half, and it felt like it was now us who were under pressure. As the Spuds goal news filtered though, first that they had equalised against QPR and then they had taken a 2-1 lead, and with he-who-shall-not-be-named scoring for Man United, it was hard not to start thinking that is really wasn’t going to be our day.
As Wenger made changes, bringing on Giroud and Walcot for Diaby and Podolski it was hard to fathom why Gervinho wasn’t taken off as his game continued to deteriorate, even managing to take Ramsey out as he made a run on the goal. But Giroud made a good first impression with a near header then a shot on goal.
Things started to look up, we were on the attack again but once again we failed to deliver in the box. While Gervinho’s play was erratic, Mertesacker was once again crucial in defence and little Santi Cazorla had a great shot. The game was turning and then GOOOOAAAAL!! Brilliant equaliser from Koscielny.
But the rest of the game was certainly nervy, with Koscielny nearly going from hero to zero with his clearance landing at the feet of Aguero just minutes after the goal. We kept the pressure on but it wasn’t easy and it was with relief that the ref blew the final whistle.
So could we rise to the biggest test of the season so far? No one could fail to answer with anything but a resounding yes, not only putting on some brilliant performances – Merts and Cazorla my stars of the game – but we also came back from being one nil down and really took the game to City, who lets face it are the Champions and playing at home. Lots to be positive about.
Well done boys.
Read more on my blog at abbiesampson.co.uk