Sunday, August 27, 2006

City 1 Arsenal 0

With four weekends of cricket still left, it meant I was unable to get to the game yesterday, but due to us coasting home by a nine wicket margin I was able to put my feet up and watch yesterday's match, along with Lancashire's C&G Trophy defeat - whilst having one eye on the action out in the middle of course.

To say it was a much needed win is a touch understated, but it undoubtedly brought some welcome relief at the end of a troubled week on and off the pitch.

From what I caught of the game, it looked to be our best performance so far - both in quality and spirit. It was a gritty performance as there were spells when we were under the cosh, but equally we created chances and opportunities ourselves.

Pearce again made changes to the side, with the Jordan returning in place of the absent Thatcher, Corradi in for Samaras (with Vassell playing on the left) and Dabo coming in for Reyna.

Two big plus points for me were Corradi and Dabo. Dabo, playing in a defensive 'holding' role augmented the excellent Dunne and Distin and allowed Barton to more licence to get forward in attack. The distribution of Dabo was also an upgrade over that of Reyna. Corradi impressed me with his movement up front, his strength and ability to hold the ball up - and linked well I thought with Dickov.

Nicky Weaver had another good game - possibly prompting a change of heart from one or two of you? More than once saving well from a misfiring Thierry Henry, whilst defensively in the main we coped with Arsenal's attacking play as well asI've seen us do.

Let's not totally kid ourselves though. Before Barton put us ahead, Arsenal could have been two, possibly three goals up and had chances in the second half to get themselves on level terms but once we got to the hour mark I sensed that the points were fairly safe.

Arsenal had the look of a side struggling for confidence. Whilst Fabregas and van Persie were superb, with Walcott looking bright when he came on they looked very lightweight. Henry missed more chances than he usually does in a season, whilst Djourou and Hoyte in defence didn't inspire confidence. Whilst they have only played two games, they are already playing catch-up in the title race and I wonder if they have the depth of squad to make a sustained bid for the title.

With another 5.15pm win behind us (can we petition the league to switch all games to then?) we are on four points and in eighth place, and are probably ahead of where most of us thought us to be looking at the opening three games on paper. We have 'winnable' games coming up against Reading, Blackburn and West Ham with the Cole and Hamman to return, so it maybe then that an indication of how the season may pan out will be far more clear.

Match reports:
The Observer

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