CITY 3 ARSENAL 0
REPORT BY EDDIE BLOUNT
This was arguably the best home performance of the season in a year when good home performances have been rather thin on the ground. Considering that wins of any sort against Arsenal have been rare in recent times it is strange to relate that we have now managed successive home wins against them.
This was totally decisive in the end and Arsenal could not have complained if the result had been 6-0 rather than the actual 3-0 scoreline. It took the better part of an hour before the deadlock was broken but the tone had long been set and from then on it was merely a question of how many we would win by.
No wonder the City crowd left in joyful mood in stark contrast to the Gunners support, subdued from the outset and quick to desert the obviously sinking ship as City turned up the heat. Their fans could learn something from the Toon Army who gave Newcastle tremendous support from the off in City’s previous home game in spite of their team’s indifferent scoring record. Perhaps the difference is explained by the Newcastle fans having a genuine connection to the North East whilst too many Arsenal supporters have no geographical affinity with the club and are basically pot-hunters?
The game was much more open than the Newcastle match and suited City’s style to a tee. Early on City had possession stats of 80% though much of that was possession some distance from the Arsenal goal it has to be said. Nonetheless City had numerous first half chances, the best of which fell inevitably to Vardy who lifted a delightful through ball over keeper Leno, who had a fine game incidentally, but unfortunately also over the bar.
Maddison, influential throughout, had a shot from just outside the box which narrowly missed the keeper’s right-hand post and Leno made a great save from Ndidi’s header from a Maddison corner. There were other near things and Arsenal could only reply with one first time shot from Aubameyang which whistled past Schmeichel’s near post
Arsenal as always were heavily into tactical fouling and this time it was to prove their undoing. Naitland-Miles had already nipped one City counter-attack in the bud by a foul from behind to earn his first yellow card and long before the first half was over he committed a second similar offence giving referee Oliver no choice. With Arsenal down to ten men and City already well on top the crowd scented blood. Somehow the Reds survived intact to reach the interval all square.
Rogers made a very astute change at half-time taking off Ndidi and replacing him with Barnes. Ndidi had been booked and Arsenal had clearly targeted Ndidi in an effort to force the referee to send him off so Rogers took sensible pre-emptive action.
The pattern of play in the second half was as it had been in the first only more so with wing-backs, Chilwell and Ricardo pushing up at every opportunity. The break-through came on the hour and if you blinked you may have missed it. Maddison whipped in an immediate cross to the near post and Tielemans sumptuous header gave Leno no chance whatsoever. It certainly does only take a second to score a goal!
City attacked relentlessly coming very close without breaching the Arsenal defence a second time until Schmeichel achieved the most unlikely of assists! In possession with Arsenal pushed up to the halfway line he unleashed a gorgeous long ball which Vardy pursued with predictable intent. He bore down on the keeper and lifted the bouncing ball over Leno only for the ball to hit the bar. Vardy, first to the rebound, headed cleverly past the covering defender on the line. 2-0 and the three points were safe.
Shortly after Barnes missed a simple chance but moments later Ricardo showed him how to do it. He was through on goal but at an angle so he squared the ball to the eager Vardy who converted with ease. Even 3-0 was not a fair reflection of the number of chances both teams had but City fans were not complaining. After all we had played a top six team off the park. Man City will note this result with a frisson of apprehension I suspect
As for individual performances everybody played well but I must mention the part played by youngster, Choudhury. He is quick and a great tackler. He made a double tackle early in the game which set the tempo for City and enervated the fans. After the match Rogers declared the tackles to be the best he had seen since coming to the City and he was right!
Special mention also for Albrighton who showed us what we miss when he does not play. High marks also for Evans who was never bested in defence though he did put an early header straight at Leno which should have been the opening goal. The others were excellent to a man which is what you need when playing a side like Arsenal
City: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell, Choudhury (Mendy 79), Ndidi (Barnes 45), Albrighton (Gray 86), Tielemans, Maddison, Vardy
Arsenal: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Papastathopoulos, Kolasinac, Mkhitaryan (Gouendouci 73), Torreira, Xhaka, Iwobi (Koscielny45), Aubameyang, Lacazette (Nketiah 79)
The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation