Date: 13th September 2014 at 7:41pm
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There’s often a pattern in games after one side starts by dominating play, somewhere around the 20 to 25 minute mark, where the tempo drops if the dominant side has failed to score and the opposition slowly begins to gain some control. That’s sort of what happened in this game as we created 5 goal attempts in the first 15 minutes and then got caught by a sucker punch. City are a good side with good players but even so Flamini let Aguero run past him a little too easily once Monreal’s adventure gave Navas the opportunity to break.

There have been a few Ramsey interviews recently where he claims a chat with Wenger advising him to simplify his game is where his game started to improve. It might be worth having that chat again as attempts at 30 yard screamers, Hollywood passes and turnovers that are as likely to confuse your own team mates are rather too elaborate for what is needed from him. Still his energy and persistence, as has been noted before, often brings a reward and he grabbed an assist for Wilshere’s equalising goal. It was a good goal too with Sanchez feeding Ramsey who in turn played in Jack who then lost Clichy brilliantly before, and with just as much brilliance, dinking the ball over Hart with his right foot.

Jack had a good game breaking though the middle and generally distributing well but with Ozil and Alexis also coming inside to play through the centre we were once again too often playing in small tight triangles that when play breaks down gives the opposition plenty of space to break into. Ozil looked to probe and prompt but found it hard going partly because we were playing too close together at times. Alexis was very impressive putting in incredible effort while showing great skill but rather too many of his passes went astray. He’ll improve on that as familiarity grows but nobody could criticise his work rate and he could be found helping out in defence one minute then trying to close down the keeper the next.

There’s a video clip posted during the week with Alexis missing a chance for Chile against Haiti from much the same position as that he scored from for us today. There was no mistake this time as a great volley from an astute headed pass by Wilshere kept up what promises to be the start of a positive scoring run for us. Had our new signing Welbeck taken an early chance instead of hitting the woodwork he might have begun a scoring run of his own. There’ll be those who’ll seek to suggest his failure to do so demonstrates a flaw in his game but he took the chance well enough and was desperately unlucky not to score. There was a time that every other attempt for us from RvP seemed attracted to the woodwork but if he shows the same instincts often enough he’ll find plenty of them will find the back of the net. Overall his movement was good and he showed some good touches but he’s still feeling his way into the side. Had we scored first, in that period where we were dominating play, we might have been able to exercise more control over the game instead of chasing it as much as we did.

Having got ourselves in front it is incredibly frustrating to then lose it on a set piece when both sides offered so much from open play. While Flamini can rue his failure to track Aguero in the first half he can be equally rueful that Szczesny’s attempt to save DeMichelis’ header succeeded only in taking it off Mathieu’s head as he readied himself to clear it.

The result is disappointing because we deservedly led at a key point of the game but in all honesty City supporters might feel disappointed too. Both sides could have won it and feel equally justified in claiming their performances would have warranted the win. City play open attractive positive football that is a joy to watch. They do so with a more mature team of players than we have and keep it simpler, though not without great skill too, where we over complicate some moves but with the intent to be positive. We have players that know when to do the simple things, some that don’t yet and others that are trying to work out who is going to keep it simple and who’s going to try something ambitious. When they all better understand who will do what and when then maybe the results will be as positive as our play.

City are a very good team whose style of football is great to watch. I think we can say that our team is as good as theirs if not better but now we have most of the resources to be better still. We’ll be great to watch this season but hopefully a little less frustrating.