By Hunter Tighe
It wasn’t hard to figure out what happened in today’s game. This wasn’t like the Manchester United match, in which we had more chances and a solid control of the game. We got straight up out-hustled. Man City took a heavily-rotated squad to the Allianz in the midweek fixture and got a good result, mainly because of the fact that they’ve spent billions on their squad. Like Munich, their second squad is of equal quality to their first. Today, we saw a fully-rested City squad play a team on 2 days rest and not much room for rotation. Depth is power when you play two games a week at this level. January will be a crucial time for our management to take action if we are to stay competitive with these “Money Talks” tycoons, if you will.
On the bright side, we played with resilience in the attacking half. It took us more than a quarter of the game to find composure and control in the midfield. However, when we did, we made the right passes and runs to set up Theo Walcott’s 1st goal since injury. This goal, I believe, will return him to the goalscoring form that saw us into the top 4 last season. Theo provides such pace and finishing poise that even when we can’t find the creative rhythm that saw us past Napoli, Liverpool, and Dortmund earlier this season, we can find a way behind the opposition and into the back of the net and that will be crucial going forward.
Today’s match was, for me, eye-opening to our lack of depth in the defense. I think if we do have ambitions of winning the league title, we need another world-class centre-half and a solid right-back. With his pace, strength, and ball-winning ability, today would’ve been a great day to see Bacary Sagna in the center of our defense. I think we all understand why he stayed out right, though. Carl Jenkinson is still young and he plays a bit nervy against the big boys. I don’t want to bash him, though. I think he’ll be a future Arsenal great. He's just not ready for the first team when under pressure. Frankly, Mertesacker was worn the hell out. We saw a similar performance from him against Galatasaray. When playing tired, he can get sluggish and incapable of handling the more agile attackers, especially when they have incredible striking ability like Drogba and, today, Negredo and Aguero. Vermaelen, once again, did not show the capability to “boss” the defense as Koscielny does and if Wenger is opposed to rotating him with BFG on a regular basis, I really don’t see the sense in keeping him. Our defense showed frailties that we all knew were there, but hadn’t proved an issue until today. Unfortunately, it was a crucial match for the standings. Asking our centre-halves to play every minute of every game, when playing twice, and later on three times, a week is completely unreasonable and unrealistic.
We’ve seen this group of boys, this team, play with the quality to beat any side in the world. That’s a fact. Now, from a management standpoint, we need to change some policies and take some risks in the line-up to see us play to our potential in quality more consistently. For me, this game was easily summarized by one word. Depth.
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