Arsenal showed themselves a lack of respect last night

by Charlie Coffey

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

The Arsenal fans and players who berated Roberto Mancini and his Manchester City side for parking the bus last night were actually underestimating their own side and showing City too much respect. Did they think a side who have never finished in the top four of the Premier League, who were beaten 3-0 at home by Arsenal earlier this season, would come to the Emirates expecting to win?

The same Gunners who regularly talk themselves up as title contenders forgot that pride last night. City came to Arsenal with humility and tried to earn a point, rather than to be humiliated by pushing forward and leaving gaps for their hosts to exploit. Arsenal are used to teams lining up defensively, aiming to frustrate them. They can usually break them down. Mancini came with a specific game plan and his team fulfilled it with tactical discipline. They did their job, Arsenal couldn’t do theirs, and so the fans looked for someone to blame.

Only Chelsea (before their recent slump, at least) and Manchester United, the two teams that finished ahead of Arsenal last season, come to the Emirates and are disappointed if they leave without three points. Even for pretenders to the Premier League crown, a point away at a fellow contender is a decent achievement. It stops their opponents from advancing and obviously means they have dropped points at home.

Both teams were ultimately the loser in terms of the title race last night; a draw was the perfect result for Manchester United. Perhaps Mancini’s tactics suggest that he is more concerned in guaranteeing a first taste of Champions League football for City than he is of going gung-ho for the title. Either way, he has a painful memory of what can happen if you give Arsenal too much space. Arsenal beat City comfortably at Eastlands in October despite the presence of Mancini’s usual two anchor men, so what choice did Mancini have other than to go ultra-defensive at the Emirates and grind out a point? If a manager finishes a game with the opposing fans baying for his blood, he can rest assured that he has done his job.

Arsenal are an excellent side but they can be stopped. Even Manchester United played a five-man midfield with defensive wingers and two defensive midfielders when they played Arsenal at home last month. Mancini and other managers will have seen the success they had and so it is no surprise that they would follow a similar game plan. Arsenal can be frustrated if the opposition pile men behind the ball and get physical; Arsenal are susceptible from set-pieces. What Cesc Fabregas and the fans who jeered Mancini’s City last night must remember is that the employment of these tactics is out of respect for the brand of football they employ, but also that as wonderful as Arsenal are to watch when they are allowed to play, opposing managers have their own agenda. Mancini made that point last night.

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  • spark

    You failed to point out that City, in losing 3-0 to Arsenal in Manchester, played that match with 10 men after the first 5 minutes. I think that needs to be mentioned if you’re going to talk about how Arsenal beat City “comfortably” in their previous match.

  • http://bluezone kev sharx

    very well wrote, city went there missing our best attacking/creative player in silva, i hoped for a point at best and got one through a brilliant defensive display!!!!!!! CTID.

  • charlie coffey

    fair point sparky!

  • simon

    Spark – And why were you down to 10 men at Eastlands?
    Because you’d been ripped apart in the first 5 mins & would have been 2-0 down had it not been for Arshavin being wrongly flagged offside when clean through & Boyata pulling Chamakh down when clean through.

    Last night showed a small club mentality despite all the talk. And then saying you didn’t have Silva. Please. Where was the rest of your £300 million squad ?

  • ppp

    a terrible point made in a sky sports watching sit in your armchair and never go to a match and just be a sanctimonious fool kind of way.
    city got a draw by cheating. they lay on the floor after every challenge. your hero hart took three times as long to take goal kicks as a wheelchair bound old woman would have taken.
    is it within the rules to deliberately waste time because you’re scared of the opposition? no of course it f***ing isn’t.
    you berate the fans who booed city off because you’ve never been to a game in your life.
    stop “writing” about football you have no place.

  • KenGooner

    We didnt boo City for playing a cautious style… like you said we fully expect that every time a team comes here, we was booing them because of other aspects of their gameplan specifically joe hart time wasting from the 1st minute and the way all their players were going down injured asking for treatment after every single challenge to stem the flow of the game. there is playing for a point and there is just plain taking the mick… city took the gameplan most teams use at the emirates and took it to some ridiculous new level. another thing is… quarter of a billion spent on players in the last 18 months and thats the kind of standard they get for the money? pathetic, disgraceful and an embaressment to the league… but instead of slamming them for making the premiership look bad and trying there best to destroy football, you have decided to critisize arsenal and our fans? this isnt JUST because they held us last night, even if we had won 3-0 like we could have id still be saying these things about them.

  • waspy

    Small club mentality? is that like being beaten at Everton or Wolves. Behave. We’ll see about our small club mentality after the next 7 games. Compare places then.
    Seem to recall us missing two great chances in that opening 5 mins as well at Eastlands. oh and £100 for a match ticket? that keeping football real is it?

  • George

    Simon, ofsides happen, seem to remember walcott being offside when he hit the post last night? or would that have slipped your mind when he wasnt flagged, swings and roundabouts… also it was the first 5 minutes of a game, outside the box and to the side, chamakh had a good chance of scoring, but Hart was there, the angle was geting tighter, could have booked him and put him on final warning, would have made for a much better match that time around, and if i remember correctly city were also creating chances in that match even with injuries to the side (hence Boyata starting)

    at the end of the day, a draw was a good result, without our most creative player (silva) and with just one of the first choice strikers available (Balotelli out) we were forced to line up defensivly, im sure you had a few squeeky bum moments when yaya came storming through… we played on the counter, typical italian football, and one which i was happy to see, although would have preferred to be a bit further up the pitch defending, even from 22 yards arsenal are dangerous… Hart, Kompany and Toure (both) were excellent, sending off was a bit silly, zaba fouled him yes, but didnt once push his head into Sagna…

    all in all, stayed above arsenal, team are still learning, a small club mentality would be one of west brom, just going for broke and all out attacking as they know if they sit back their defence wouldnt be able to soak up the pressure, the mentality shown was one of respect and caution of an Arsenal side that with Nasri and Fabregas playing as well as they are, are very dangerous and can score goals easily. Everton did exactly what city did at eastlands, they were applauded by everyone… not so long ago they were a top 5/6 team…


  • Vox

    I’d defy ANY team to play Arsenal, the quickest and most precision passing team in the league, with ten men for 85 minutes and get a result, yet everyone brushes over this when they talk about the Eastlands fixture. City went to the Emirates last night on the back of a tough ten day schedule, with three key players missing, against an in form Arsenal side at full strength, for a game with a huge amount at stake for both teams. That dictated Mancini’s tactics. As a City supporter I didn’t like to see the team have to do that, but I understand the reasoning and I’m happy with the point. Arsenal did a lot of that under George Graham in order to grind out results, but the fans and the pundits didn’t complain about it the. They have biased memories if you ask me.

  • Dearwaspy

    Keeping football real is being run by slave owners and living off their ill-gotten gains.

  • George

    Dearwaspy, what a stupid stereotypical and racist reply,
    If they are ill-gotten, does this mean our own royal familys fortunes are ill-gotten? they have rich natural resources in their country, they sell those resources so we can live your lives, you pay for our transfers, so thank you.

    get back to your homework.

  • Grumpypants

    A bit of a blinkered view there, Simon. I seem to remember chances for both sides at Eastlands in the first 5 minutes. It looked to be a highly entertaining game. However, the sending off threw us off and fair play to Arsenal, you exploited the space we gave you well and made us pay. 3-0 was a bit flattering I think but we didn’t seem to have a plan b after the dismissal.

    Last night we were more intent on not losing than winning and we know first hand how you can punish teams who give you space. I admit it’s not pretty to watch but it was effective. I think everyone would prefer a gritty 0-0 draw away to one of the best teams in the league rather than a free-flowing attacking game and a 3-0 defeat. Once we’re a more established contender you may see us come and have a go, but I’m happy with us grinding out draws until then.

    Also, don’t forget that you hit the woodwork a few times and Hart made a couple of good saves. You can’t blame City for Arsenal’s inability to finish.

  • ming the merciless

    kengooner, £300m spent and where has it got us?………above arsenal and going for the title! ..thats where mate!!!

  • KenGooner

    loool arsenal did it under graham because we didnt have a bottomless pit of money to spend on near enough any player we want!

  • charlie coffey


    I’ve had a season ticket at a PL club for 16 years my son, man and boy. Having had to move away from home for work I travel a 380 mile round trip for every match at vast expense to see my team play live when I could easily sit in my armchair and watch them on Sky Sports (although I’d probably prefer a boozer if you don’t mind).

    I don’t like time wasting either mate, but don’t blame me for it! They wouldn’t have been time wasting if Arsenal had broken them down and scored a goal.

    What was your constructive point again?

  • Mystical Mike

    I recall Leeds United under Howard Wilkinson winning the old Division one by playing a similar style. If, and it’s a big if, City do win the league then they will be the worst side since Leeds to win the league.

    Dull, dull, dull!!

  • Blade

    I am an Arsenal nut and have been for 32 years. I found your post fascinating the way you critise my club. FYI I think you will find that the only games we have lost at home this season is to teams that have come and attacked us!!! I was an Arsenal fan during our boring boring days but if sexy George had spent £300 million on the squad and they played like that I would of been very critical. I can understand it when you have John Jensen and David Hillier running your midfield but hello, wasn’t there midfield made up of full internationals???? The best way to beat us is to attack us and hope for a bit of luck. I like Man City but I hope they can employ a manager who can at least try and win a match!!

  • Nick

    Good article Charlie and spot on, if Arsenal fans actually bothered to look at the table they would see City’s away record is as good as their’s, we’ve scored 19 to Arsenal’s 20 goals on the road. This proves we are not boring on our travels and last night’s tactics were mainly out of respect for Arsenals attacking ability.

    SIMON – your comments sum it up – ‘small club blah blah’. Maybe we are a small club but we follow our team everywhere and have done so through the divisions. Unlike BIG Arsenal with a stadium full of fans who have supported them since moving to London and discovering football and a BIG team to follow. I’ve got a mate who’s supported Arsenal for years and refuses to go to games at the Emirates because (I quote) ‘It’s full of c*nts’ so he follows the Arsenal away instead. Say’s it all really.

  • KenGooner

    as long as everyone has played a different amount of games as eachother the league standings right now are not really a very clear reflection of who is doing better… if your league position is helping you sleep at night though by all means carry on looking.

  • spark

    City played this game no different than the match against Chelsea. Only difference is Tevez got free for a goal. Mancini and company were geniuses after that win. If Tevez does the same yesterday it was a brilliant win. The draws against Spurs and United were the same. Mancini obviously believes in not giving up 3 points to your main rivals. The fact that City is sitting in 2nd place shows this strategy to be working. City played “pretty” football for decades with nothing to show for it. Like Mancini said, I’ll take the boos and a point, thank you very much.

  • Johno

    A masterclass in defending.

  • KenGooner

    how long til city fans sit up and notice that they didnt get boo’d for playing a cautious style… we are well and truely used to that, we expect it almost every single game at the ems, they got boo’d off for taking it to some new extreme, your players going down injured asking for treatment after every challenege well and truely took the piss.

  • KenGooner

    johno a masterclass in defending does not rely on the post to save them, at times last night you was getting carved open at will, not a masterclass by any stretch of the imagination. arsenal were the masterclass in defending last night, we restricted our opponents to zero shots on target.

  • Goonerism


    I would say our royal family and much of our countries wealth is ill-gotten. Are you not aware on Britian’s historical involvement in the slave trade not to mention the working class of this country who were effectively slaves as well?

  • Grumpypants

    Well Ken, Arsenal are a physical side! 😉

  • charlie coffey


    I agree that teams can beat Arsenal at the Emirates by attacking them, with Barca being the most obvious example and others such as WBA doing it too. By definition in order to win you have to attack at some point. I didn’t mean the defensive tactic is the only way but just that it can work.

    It’s almost impossible to write anything about your club without offending supporters such as yourself, even though in this one I was respectful in the main! Stop being so defensive!! (sorry)

  • lewis

    What was crazy to see was when yaya nearly ran through the team and then needed the physio to come on as he was f***ed, nice engine lol.

    You got a point, well done but we took 4 off you this year which is the main positive. i just feel sorry for Tevez, he should have stayed at man u and the rest of the team would pass it around instead of being rabbits caught in headlights. how he wished he had a rooney or a nani instead of a |DM in yaya to support him.
    I always thought city fans said about the good football they played, it was a bit of an embarassment to the premiership, that’s from any fan watching the game. Its a shame as they have one or two top players.
    I can be honest and say they have been the worst team that we have played this season, in all comps, maybe even including F.A youth cup lol

  • Asmo

    Another clueless anti-Arsenal piece by this truly tepid writer.

    You’ve showed yourself up utterly with this, show yourself some respect and stop now son.

  • NJ Blue


    Man City “have been the worst team that we have played this season”, yet Arsenal couldn’t beat them…probably why Man City are above Arsenal at this point.

  • steveO

    Why are City fans suddenly football experts? Oh yeah i remember they very recently became the lotto chavs of the north. Roll on the new Uefa regs. I wouldnt be surpirsed if City havent won anything by then , so then what – will City be the No.1 world brand in 3 years making a huge profit ? I very much doubt it – enjoy it while you can. In the meantime Arsenal will remain on another planet to you. City to win the league….have a word.

  • George


    fair point, but the fact i was making is that much of our royalties wealth is now made up from tourism, how many milions must visit the palace etc each year…

    in contrast, Abu Dhabi’s wealth is its own, they have never invaded other countries, just used what they have (which is a hell of alot) the recent news of a £1billion agreement in manchester to redevelop it shows they are here for the long haul, and im sure the ne facilities will bring in the much needed income to help with the UEFA regs.

    to sum up this whole thing, arsenal played well, city defended well and got a bit of luck when needed, its happened. time wasting is a part of todays game, like it or not, Everton did the exact same to us the other night, it is down to the referee’s to be stronger to stop it, people posting rants on blogs will get nothing done.

    wish Arsenal all the luck in the world this year, would much prefer them or ourselves to win the title than manure or chelski.

  • Nick

    @ steveO

    ‘Why are City fans suddenly football experts?’

    Oh yeah because obviously football fans outside of the ‘Sky 4’ know nothing about football.

    What a nob

  • It’s Grim Oop North

    Southern Rags.

    Arsenal and Manure fans joining forces against City, Chelski and Spuds, ‘cos we’re upsetting their cosy little world, where they share the silverware every year.

    Arse fans showing their true colours now, they look down on every other club except United, as not worthy to win anything.

    What a horrible, nasty bunch of snobs you lot are, show some respect to other clubs, or carry on bleating whilst we destroy you, only you, not football.

    The City revolution, like the Chelsea revolution, will only inconvenience a handful of top clubs, and of course chief amongst those are United and the Arse. No smaller teams will suffer from City’s spending, no wage structures will be smashed, no clubs will go under, in fact several will benefit from loan deals and massive transfer fees for a handful of players a year at most – despite the credit crunch affecting everyone else in the world.

    City are not destroying football, but they are taking trophies from the two Rag teams.

    Massive respect to all those other clubs like Blackpool, Preston, Bolton, Northampton, Sheffields United and Wednesday, Bristol Rovers and City, etc…etc, who haven’t won the footy lottery – City fans understand what it’s like to be nowhere near a trophy and still love your club, shame Arsenal and United fans have such a superiority complex and look down their noses at everyone else.

    End of an era for the Red dinosoars, and about time.

  • lewis

    @NJ Blue

    your above us as you have played a game more so your point is pretty much invalid.
    And your right we didn’t beat you but as previously mentioned….we took 4 points off you this season and you were very happy to take 1.
    Regardless of the team, we go into every game trying to win, how a “top team” like city just bottle there attacking instincts after spending so much money.
    As i said, you have been the worst team an arsenal side has played this year…fact my friend.

    the sad thing is as a football fan, i really used to enjoy watching city play as there football was expansive and looking for a win.
    You dont need to be a top player to sit on the edge of the box and camp for 90 mins. its a shame

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