FIVE things Arsenal fans learned from our win at Man City

5 things Arsenal fans realised after the win at Manchester City by Demitri

1. Arsene Wenger has not lost his tactical nous

It was quite unexpected for all football fans that Wenger had a trick up his sleeve for this away game. Arsenal fans did not have too much hope for this game, and pundits, like Gary Neville, were condemning Arsenal before the game had even started. Based on history, it was easy to see why, but after watching the game, people were pleasantly surprised by Wenger’s tactics. After conceding 17 goals in 3 away games at the Etihad Stadium, Anfield and Stamford Bridge last season, which was the difference between 4th place and winning the league for Arsenal, Wenger took a leaf out of, his rival manager, Jose Mourinho’s book and ‘parked the bus’.

Wenger has been criticised for being too open and predictable against rival oppositions, however, on Sunday, this was not the case. Manchester City’s attacks and chances were limited through the solid defensive performance that Wenger orchestrated through his choice of tactics. By positioning Francis Coquelin as a vital defence mechanism in front of the four defenders, David Silva was unable to work his usual magic. With the pace, drive and flair of his other midfielders, Wenger played with a counter-attack philosophy, in order to expose Manchester City, as well as minimise their attacks. Arsenal invited pressure from Manchester City, and then swiftly counter-attacked them, in a Mourinho-esque fashion, which, as we have all seen in the past, has worked successfully in tough away fixtures.

2. Francis Coquelin is not going down without a fight

Arsenal fans have been calling for Wenger to sign a defensive midfielder for years, especially since this past summer transfer window. After the away day demolitions that cost Arsenal the league title last year, fans and pundits have both expressed their desire for Wenger to bring in a defensive midfielder. Long gone are the days when Arsenal had a midfielder that could successfully intimidate an opposition, like Patrick Vieira or Gilberto Silva did. However, no fan realised that the potential answer had been at the club the whole time, in the form of 23 year-old, Francis Coquelin.

Recalled from the Championship draw specialists, Charlton Athletic, Wenger took a risk in starting Coquelin at Manchester City due to injuries to Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta. Coquelin played the best game of his Arsenal career, sitting deep and restricting David Silva’s creativity, as well as not being afraid to shout at his teammates, showing his leadership qualities. Coquelin played the defensive midfielder role brilliantly, with a disciplined performance. By proving himself on the highest stage, away at the reigning champions, Coquelin has shown Wenger and the Arsenal fans that he is not one of the fans who wants Wenger to sign a new defensive midfielder. Coquelin’s contract expires this summer, but he is reportedly being offered an extension to this, much to the delight of Arsenal fans who tuned into the Manchester City game, many of who believe that he is the solution to Arsenal’s defensive midfielder problems.

3. Mesut Ozil has to prove his worth to regain his place in the starting eleven

Arsenal’s £42.5 million signing started his career at the club by bringing great belief to the team and fans, after a disappointing home defeat to Aston Villa in the opening game of the season. His influence saw the club bounce back from this defeat, as it created a confidence within the squad, which led to Arsenal’s most successful season since 2005, winning their first piece of silverware in 9 seasons. However, Ozil seemed to suffer from fatigue in the second half of the season, looking tired and weak, which could have been due to the lack of a winter break. His dip in form and injuries has led to a media attack on him and a seeming loss of self-confidence on the pitch. This season, he shone in the number 10 position against Aston Villa, but then suffered a 3 month injury against Chelsea in October.

During this time of injury, Santi Cazorla has proved his worth in the number 10 position for the Gunners, picking up Arsenal’s December player of the month. Against Manchester City, he picked up the man of the match award and played one of his best games in an Arsenal shirt, questioning whether Ozil will be able to slot straight back into the starting eleven. I hope that Wenger does not feel the need to push either Ozil or Cazorla in a wide position in order to accommodate both, but chooses his eleven on form, which means that Ozil will have to prove himself to regain his place in the number 10 position.

4. Arsenal Spanish speaking players starred

Everyone watching the Premier League this season is in awe of the quality that Chilean superstar, Alexis Sanchez, has brought to the league and Arsenal squad. However, against Manchester City, his Spanish-speaking colleagues also proved themselves to the fans, with four others on show. Colombian goalkeeper, David Ospina, was brought in after starring in the World Cup, as a back-up for Wojciech Szczesny. Due to Szczesny’s recent form, Ospina was given a chance in the first team and is showing Wenger why he should be starting every week. Quickly becoming a fan’s favourite, as they have already created a chant for him, Ospina has not conceded yet in his two league appearances. The two Spanish full-backs, Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin, played very well, with a brilliant balance of attack and defence.

Monreal has been criticised this season by fans as not good enough for Arsenal, as he has played centre-back due to Wenger’s lack of defensive additions in the transfer window. However, against City, he was defensively solid and won the vital penalty, as he seemed more comfortable in his natural left-back role. Similarly, Bellerin offered his attacking and defensive qualities to the game, proving that age is just a number, and he should be the player to replace Mathieu Debuchy while he is injured. Spanish midfielder, Santi Cazorla was exceptional in the game, as he won man of the match, with a goal and an assist. He terrorised the City team, dribbling through them with ease at times, but also put in a hard-working defensive shift. He never stopped running and was the engine in midfield that managed to stand out despite a superb team performance.

5. The confidence from this game needs to be carried through to the end of the season

Arsenal fans are right to be jubilant after the result away at Manchester City, which saw the team beat the reigning Premier League champions for the first time since the 2001/02 season. However, the race for the Champions League spots is still as intense as ever, with all their rival teams winning this weekend. Southampton, Manchester United, Tottenham, West Ham and Liverpool all won on the weekend, which means that Arsenal’s win against Manchester City was vital in their chase for Champions League football. With 7 points separating these 5 teams, the competition levels are high, as Arsenal are 1 point off fourth placed Manchester United, and 3 off third placed Southampton. The confidence from this game could spur the Arsenal team on to finish third this season, which would be an improvement on last season’s fourth place finish.

As key players have come back from injury, the Arsenal squad is looking fuller than ever this season, and depth could be important, as they push for third place. Arsenal still have to face top level teams this season, visiting Tottenham in February, and an important mid-May clash at Manchester United. Luckily, the other matches against teams near to them in the league like Chelsea, Liverpool and West Ham, are at home. However, with Wenger employing unpredictable tactics, the new-look Arsenal side could be one that has a strong finish to the season, gaining a top three finish. This could create confidence for next season, and the foundations that are built now could lead to a real title challenge, subject to a strong start next season, which was not seen this time around.


Tags Bellerin Cazorla Coquelin Ozil


  1. Better late than never I reluctantly suppose re.the Arsenal away tactics. may even get 3rd.Whoopee.

    1. Sometimes I think it’s not that Wenger doesn’t know what to do, but he doesn’t want people to think he can be swayed by public opinion. He strikes me as someone who might be about to take a med like paracetamol for his aching head, and you come in and say “Sir, I think you need paracetamol.”, he’d change his mind and rather take a radically different and harmful medication that’s got nothing to do with his problem, just to make ur suggestion irrelevant.

    1. Yes, Ospina deserves an honorable mention (Mr.Clean sheet). and then there’s our new found BIG GAME player in OLIVIER GIROUD, goals against, Everton, Liverpool, Manure and City. What a massive improvement!

    2. 1 Alexis brought a new spirit and mentality into the Arsenal squad.
      2 Bellerin is now ready.
      3 Ospina is more calculative.
      4 Coquelline is transformed.
      5 Cazorla is better as 10.
      6 Giroud is back and better

      1. Cazorla is not a #10. he’s a B2B, just like fabregas. He used to be a #10 who could and would run wide, but now he’s changed himself into a more defensive player – dropping down to the box2box-type on the central midfield.

  2. I read that we will be saying goodbye to Flamini and Diaby at the end of the season…this means(hopefully) that we are making room for new players, I hope we get a defender and Schneiderlin or Bender.

    I really feel bad for Diaby, so much talent but just couldn’t get going,
    and Flamini, well he done a good job in a few games for us on his return but I
    honestly don’t have that much love for him, his return was more business coz we were desperate in that position…his return was mutually beneficial but never the less Thanks a lot guys and all the best in the future

    1. Flamini’s time has come so no tears there. I don’t want to do Abu’s obituary just yet as I don’t know for sure whether time has now been properly called on his career. One day the full story regarding Abu Diaby will be told – I know Arsenal FC get plenty of stick for what has frankly been a dispiriting and boring saga regarding poor old Abu. But there is an untold human side to the story which I think is to our club’s credit and is why we are different in so many good ways to the rest. I don’t know the full details, whether he was being paid or not etc but you just have to feel so sorry for the guy – well I do anyway, maybe I am too soft. The worst thing is that everyone, and Wenger more than most, could see just how good he could have been. He could have made all the recent discussion about a physical box-to-box CM absolutely pointless and redundant.

  3. As a fan, this was actually what we were dreaming for. What a great team work tactic. For me, it was not parking the pass, it was rather exemplary team work. Defending as a team and attacking as team with a counter attacking approach. This tactic has to be kept up for difficult away games. Well done Arsenal

  4. Fair play to Wenger for his “tactical nous” but I do wonder why it suddenly comes out of the blue now after all this time. He couldn’t even bring himself to say that he had changed things too much despite the clear evidence just witnessed by the watching football world. In fairness, I thought we looked better at Chelsea until Hazard went through, but we couldn’t see it out.

    The 5 things I learnt/enjoyed the most:

    1) It hasn’t really been mentioned much but the team was almost entirely different from the teams we have fielded in the recent past. This was a starting team without 9 (9!!!), recent first team regulars; Sczezney, Debuchy, Gibbs, Arteta, Flamini, Ozil, Wilshere, Walcott and Welbeck. We may be short in defence but that is pretty impressive depth I reckon.

    2) This Man City having “best squad in PL”, “2 WC players in every position” malarkey has always got on my t*ts. I am not saying this from hindsight after Sunday, I have never really bought in to it. Our bench looked better than theirs. They have decent options up front but the reality is that they have absolutely no-one of comparable quality, or close, to stand in for their best five players; Aguero, Kompany, Silva, Nasri and Toure.

    3) We still need a top class CDM to take us forward. Flamini should be politely phased out. I like Arteta a lot, a class act who had to do a difficult job for us, one alien to him, at a difficult time and I think he would be a good senior squad player for another year. But in the big games next season I would love to see us put out say a Coquelin/Schneiderlin screen and let them compete for a slot in the less difficult games. Soton stick a pair of defensive CDMs in every game, probably part of the reason they have the best defence in the league, but I would not want us to take that ultra cautious approach every game.

    4) Good to win our biggest game this year without Alexis being the star man. Put a few trollers back in their cages about a one man team.

    5) Santi’s performance was mesmeric. 100+ touches in every area of the pitch and a bonkers 92% pass accuracy, “bonkers” because we are talking about passes in the danger areas and going forward nearly every time. His defensive performance was the thing that surprised me the most – stunning, Santi the Enforcer. However, how the hell can he replicate that level of performance on a regular basis? It is sad that he is 30 years old – wish we could wind the clock back 5 years.

    6) The jury is out for me as to whether this is a turning point or another false dawn. It will mean nothing if we don’t produce more similar performances. I am looking forward to the PL run-in, nice that we have now played 6 of the 8 matches against the top 4 now. Man U is the only “away biggie” left, after we dispatch the Spuds weekend after next of course.

  5. Just rest Sanchez and Santi against Brighton. I wish the team for Brighton is-

    This team can do the job easily, and give all players a much needed rest and play the rusty ones too.

    1. Agreed Sumo, it should get the job done but may need to get the WD40 out because they will be one rusty front 6!

  6. Hello Jones, you are a liar, fraud and cheat, just like the manager. You said “5 things I learnt/enjoyed the most:” and then you go on to list 6 points. We pay the highest time by gloating on these blogs and you are duping us for the last 10 years. 😀

    Nicely thought out points. But on a more serious note about “Flamini being shown the door politely”, last year when he first came back he had the same effect as Le Coq. Kruuuuuuuunchhh and all that. But slowly faded. Like Arteta i wish he gets one more year till the squad is balanced and settled and through transition. He can play, RB, LB, DM. And who will not complain if he sits on the bench and doesn’t get play time.
    For example, he did a brilliant job this year at the Bridge against Chelsea and only Hazards brilliance undid us.
    And unlike Podolski he wouldn’t complain if played only in the cups or if somebody is rested, injured.

    1. Yeah, I know guilty, I can’t count. I noticed I had 6 when I pressed the post button.

      Fair point on Flamini but although he had a noticeable effect when he returned I don’t see the all round quality that FC brings to the role. Agreed though, early days though for FC but I think it will be clear with another dozen or so games whether FC is at least part of the answer or not. All depends on Wenger really, if he does buy someone, then FC/MA + Another will be competing for a single slot and I don’t see Flamini being part of the equation. Harsh maybe but that is how I see it.

  7. “and played one of his best games in an Arsenal shirt”

    Probably his best I think. It had everything: attack, defence, goal, assist and no small amount of entertainment.

  8. Team for Brighton (if Welbeck is still injured)


    Rest: Sanchez, Cazorla, Mertsacker, Koscielny, Coquelin

    Bench: Ospina, Martinez, Monreal, Flamini, Oxlade, Rosicky, Crowley, Giroud

  9. We still have1 place left in the squad and with Ajayi on his way to Sunderland im still hopeful we will bring in a top CB , I don’t think wenger will buy a DM but have a weird feeling he may sign a striker

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