We all knew Arsenal were in for a hard game yesterday when the defending Champions Man City came to town, and Pep Guardiola’s side made it look all too easy to bamboozle our mockery of a defence.
When De Bruyne put the visitors 1-0 up with a brilliant shot from long range in the second minute, we knew that it would be near impossible to come away with anything from the game, and when Sterling made it two after just 15 minutes, Arsenal were as good as dead and buried and it looked like we were in for a landslide defeat..
De Bruyne made it comfortably 3-0 before half-time, and it was left to poor old Freddie Ljungberg to try and explain the differences between the side in the after-match conference on Arsenal.com. “Of course we know in the last couple of years that we’ve struggled against City at home, so we knew that before the game started.” he said. “We started well when Martinelli had a chance and we thought, ‘Oh, this looks good’. But we got done on the transitions again. One of the goals we had five of us against two of them and they still scored.
“We worked a lot on being balanced and having players back for the counter, but then De Bruyne showed his quality. Not many players can score those goals like he did today from small chances. Maybe it shows the difference in the teams. They score from those chances with top, top players. I think what we can learn is that we got done on the transitions again.
“If you look at City, when we were able to counter against them – and that was one of our game plans – they had five yellow cards from bringing us down when we had a chance to counter. That’s tactical and they worked on that. That’s something that we need to do. Maybe we need to learn to be more cynical when opponents have a chance to counter us. That is a bit of a weakness of ours and maybe we need to take those fouls.
“First of all, I think they take things on board. We have looked at clips about how we changed our structure. We’re actually there whereas before we didn’t have any players there for the transition. Now we are there. Of course now the next part is that we need to stop the action, to create something. I can’t remember which player it was but we were three against one, it got a deflection and then came out to De Bruyne. That’s small thing but that’s something we have to work on: how to defend. But I think we sorted organisation a bit, sort of, on the transition.
“I must say that if you’re 3-0 down against a team like City who can play well with possession, it’s tough. I said at half-time that I knew it was hard, especially against City. Liverpool and City are in a league of their own at the moment. I said it’s about pride. They had to go out and show in the second half, even if they don’t react and I knew it would be difficult to win 4-3, but there should be no chance of them scoring another goal. We tried to at least impose ourselves a little bit. It was hard for them because City kept the possession well. Sometimes we did as well between the boxes, we understood the game plan of trying to change it and open them up a bit. But we were not dangerous enough. We had some small half-chances where something could have happened. When they had their chances, De Bruyne smashed it straight in the net.”
Well, we knew it wasn’t going to be easy against Man City, but it is still hard to watch a game where we only get one shot on target in the whole 90 minutes, and it looks like Freddie (or whoever his replacement will be) has got a hell of a job on their hands to get this lot back on track….