EPL 2007-2008: Manchester City 1 – Arsenal 3

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
February 2nd, 2008 • 4:35 pm

Poor Gaël Clichy. He finally (and deservedly) gets his first call-up to the France national team and how does he celebrate? By making his first real defensive mistake in ages, which gives Manchester City a lifeline in a game that had, until then, been completely dominated by his Arsenal team.

Fortunately, it was ultimately of little consequence. But it made for a second half that was somewhat tighter and tenser than it should have been. The hosts were always only one goal away from equalizing and getting something out of the game. In truth, however, they never really looked all that threatening, and the Gunners finally got the third goal that they deserved later on in the game, which brought Adebayor’s tally to 21 goals for the season, including 16 in the league. It is really quite a remarkable achievement for him, matched only by Ronaldo’s own remarkable scoring streak.

I don’t think anybody, including Arsenal’s most ardent supporters, expected him to reach such heights so soon in his Arsenal career. Of course, not all of his goals are spectacular, and certainly today’s screamer was Eduardo’s superb goal putting Arsenal 2-0 up. But there is no denying that Adebayor has been extremely consistent and that, yes, Wenger is indeed very lucky that Togo did not qualify for the African Cup of Nations this year. If he had, things might have been very different.

Collectively speaking, it’s good to see that this year we have a team that appears to be mentally very strong, and is able to recover quickly from set-backs such as the first defeat of the season at Middlesborough in December or the heavy defeat in the Carling Cup against Tottenham 10 days ago.

We are entering a crucial stretch of the season, and the Gunners are in a very strong position indeed. They will be expected to bag another three points in 9 days at home against Blackburn, and then there will be the small matter of an FA Cup 5th Round game at Old Trafford, followed by another marginally significant game against Milan AC at the Emirates in the Champions’ League.

We should not get ahead of ourselves, of course, but today was a very good day, obviously, with both Manchester United and Chelsea dropping points on their travels.

At White Hart Lane, we saw the ugly side of Alex Ferguson’s team, with a deluge of yellow cards (yet, somewhat miraculously, no red card), and constant harassing of the referee, as if it were his fault that they weren’t playing well. They definitely had an off day, but of course the reason that they were league leaders when the day began is that they too are able to recover quickly from poor performances. They have a home derby against City next week and, based on what we’ve seen of the City team today and on the Red Devils’ desire for revenge after losing the corresponding fixture at the City of Manchester Stadium earlier in the season, I fully expect a spanking for Eriksson’s team. But you never know…

Chelsea did not play badly against Portsmouth, but some slack defending cost them dearly, and they too dropped two points in the title race. Liverpool won after an abysmal first half against Sunderland, but I don’t think too many Arsenal fans are too worried about Liverpool at this stage.

So all in all it was a pretty good day for Arsenal. It would have been even better if Robbie Keane had put that glorious chance he had in the net instead of firing a lame shot straight at the keeper, but it is Spurs we are talking about here, and they were ultimately punished for their lack of ambition in the later stages of the game. Similarly at Portsmouth Jermain Defoe had a couple of good chances to earn his new team the three points against Chelsea, but he didn’t take them, and so the race remains ever tighter because of it.

I’ve said it before, but it looks more and more likely that the title will be decided in those games where the top three teams go head to head. Things can still change, but the first half of April might be the most crucial time of the year. Let us hope that we’ll have a Arsenal team that is fully fit and firing on all cylinders when crunch time comes.

7 Responses to “EPL 2007-2008: Manchester City 1 – Arsenal 3”

  1. MaCinJay says:

    This season’s title race is turning into a nail-biter. Every time you expect one of the top two to open up a gap they go and drop points. And then there’s Chelsea lurking menacingly in third place.

    I hope you’re wrong about the Manchester derby. City have sprung a few surprises in the past, after all.

    The FA Cup tie tie will be a big game of course but I won’t be devastated if Arsenal lose for the same reason I wasn’t that disappointed when Spurs dumped them out of the League Cup – for better or worse the competitions that count now are the EPL and the Champions League.

    Talking of the Champions League, to use the old football cliche ‘mouth-watering’ doesn’t really do the prospect of playing Milan justice. I’m really looking forward to it, especially as it’s one of the few matches broadcast that I can pick up with my current television service.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    If memory serves me right, most of City’s upsets against United have been at home, which is why I don’t have much hope. But hey, you never know.

    The FA Cup tie will be just that: An FA Cup tie. A win at Old Trafford would provide a terrific moral boost. But a defeat wouldn’t be a disaster. A draw would probably be the worst possible outcome, with the already congested fixture list. I guess we’ll take what we can get.

    Sorry to hear you don’t get too many games on TV. We’ve been really spoiled here in Canada. I think we’ve been able to see at least 90% of the games that the Gunners were involved in this season so far in all competitions, either live or tape-delayed on the same day. Amazing, when you think about it. The only thing missing is more HD broadcasts!

  3. MaCinJay says:

    Yes, sadly the League Cup and even the FA Cup have become sideshows.

    One of these days I’ll plump for satellite TV, which has extensive coverage of all the big competitions.

    HD will be implemented here in time for the World Cup. Roll on 2010!

  4. Pierre Igot says:

    Yup, I am afraid satellite or digital cable is the way to go for football fans in North America. Once you get it, however, you really get spoiled.

    I sincerely hope that Euro 2008 will be available in HD as well. I am all equipped for it now :).

  5. MaCinJay says:

    Pierre, I can hardly contain my excitement following City’s victory over their old foe. Can you believe that they had not beaten Utd at Old Trafford since 1974? What an incredible result – I suspect that the emotion of the Munich Anniversary got the better of the home side.

    No matter, hopefully Arsenal won’t let them off again by slipping up against Blackburn tomorrow night.

  6. Pierre Igot says:

    Yes, I am thrilled myself—although we still have to wait until tomorrow’s result before we get too excited. Let’s not assume that Blackburn will just be a walkover.

    And with Chelsea also only managing a draw at home, the week-end has been pretty good so far. The Spuds did manage to beat Derby, but hey, anything else would have be downright embarrassing.

  7. MaCinJay says:

    Yes, Derby certainly are this season’s whipping boys.

    The good news for me is that my broadcaster will actually be showing the Blackburn game. Can’t wait!

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