EPL: Day 23 (Arsenal 2 – Manchester City 1)

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
February 2nd, 2004 • 1:39 am

It was pretty much the status quo this week-end at the top of the English Premier League, with all top three teams registering a win with a 1-goal advantage.

The three games were also similar in that all three teams had to battle hard to win the three points, against challenging opposition. Southampton definitely deserved a point against Manchester United, who looked far from confident and assured in defense. Blackburn were not as deserving and, while they were unfortunate to concede a late goal, they really have only themselves to blame for not fighting harder to preserve a hard-earned point.

Then there was the Arsenal game… It was played in horrendous conditions, in monsoon-like rain with gusts of wind — not exactly optimal conditions for a team that relies so much on technical skill. But to their credit they were able to contain Manchester City, and deserved to take the lead, even though it was through an own-goal. The second half was even worse weather-wise, and it was really miraculous, under such circumstances, that Thierry Henry was able to come up with such a stupendous goal. He might say that it was a “lucky” goal, but it was first and foremost a superb strike from 30 yards out and it couldn’t have been more accurate.

Unfortunately, the last few minutes of the game were marred by an unnecessary brawl after Anelka managed, in a somewhat fortunate fashion, to put a goal in and give his team a glimmer of hope. It’s one of these situations where absurd behaviours lead to more absurd behaviours…

Ashley Cole had no business, of course, trying to prevent Anelka from taking the ball and bringing it back to mid-field. But Anelka definitely should not have reacted the way that he did. Ashley Cole tried to defend his opponent by saying that he “should have gone too“, but I am not convinced. You just cannot grab a player by the head and throw him back like this.

But really, why do they even bother? Are a few seconds gained or wasted really worth that much? I suspect we haven’t heard the last of it

The new boy from Spain looked lively enough and almost scored a few minutes after coming on, but it was really the worst possible conditions for his debut, and Henry’s goal was obviously the highlight of the afternoon.

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