Arsenal vs. Manchester City: Assessing Gunners' Chances to Win EPL After Draw

Bell Malley@milesmalleyAnalyst IIISeptember 23, 2012

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 23:  Laurent Koscielny of Arsenal celebrates after scoring their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at Etihad Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

After today's draw against Manchester City, Arsenal sit in fifth place, nine points ahead of Manchester City by goal differential.

Arsenal possessed the ball comfortably at times, but conceded a goal at the end of the first half to Joleon Lescott's header. Laurent Koscielny, Arsenal's center back, was the unlikely hero after his unstoppable shot from a corner eight minutes from regulation time tied the game.

There were a lot of pros that could be seen today in this game. Manchester City, last EPL's Champions, struggled to find feet in this game, but does this Arsenal performance prove that Arsenal still are valid title contenders? Did they have the passion and class needed to win a trophy this season?

I'll let you know what I think, and I'll try my best to keep it unbiased, as I am an Arsenal fan. If you disagree with me, have a say in the comments section.

Firstly, Manchester City are a team who won 18 out of their 19 home games last season. But even with this immense record at home, Arsenal came in and were able to dominate the possession and chances.

There were times when Man City were on top, but that is expected at the Etihad Stadium.

Santi Cazorla, Per Mertesacker, Aaron Ramsey and Carl Jenkinson were immense today and proved their worth.

Cazorla played fantastically and could prove to be one of the greatest Arsenal buys in the last decade. He is confident on the ball, and even in such an important game, he stepped up and played fantastically.

Mertesacker may have his doubters, and I must admit, I wasn't pleased with his performances last year, but in this campaign, he is proving why he was so dominant and feared in the Bundesliga.

His greatest strength is his positioning and tackling. He isn't the best at headers and his speed is God-awful, but when paired with Koscienly who is fast and strong in the air, he can be an amazing stopper against the opposing team's play. I believe I lost count at how many times he stopped David Silva's through balls to Sergio Aguero.

He was just all-around beast, comfortable on the ball.

The middle three held their own as well and transitioned the ball from defense to offense in a patient, but effective, manner. Offensively, Arsenal looked good and probably deserved another goal. Gervinho had a few, but his touches let him down. Podolski and Cazorla were similar, but when it came down to finishing, they skied.

However, even though Arsenal pretty much outclassed Manchester City, it still leaves us asking if Arsenal can win the EPL or not?

I believe no.

I don't think Arsenal can win the EPL. They might have a chance for FA Cup or Carling Cup, but for me, definitively not the EPL. The simple reason for that is depth.

To win the EPL, you have to be quick on your feet. If something doesn't work, you have to be able to adapt. For Barcelona, teams are starting to adopt the park-the-bus method, which means to literally park the bus and just stay in your own half and pray.

But they are still able to open up doors in the opposing team's defense because of their quality and depth. They have players who can come off the bench with blistering pace and beat defenders and enough quality players to pass around their box and shoot outside the box or play the magical pass.

Arsenal, in my opinion, have a very narrow-minded playing style, and against Manchester City, who have a tight defense, they weren't able to freely dictate the game in dangerous positions in the center of the field.

It is true that Arsenal had the ball a lot more in the midfield, but the question is where and who had the ball. Defensive players such as Abou Diaby and Mikel Arteta had the ball in nonoffensive spots in the midfield, and even though they were able to get the ball out wide and forward, they rarely could reach anyone in the pocket between the midfielders and centerbacks.

Arsenal's front three are their only dangerous players offensively, and those three are Spanish midfielder Cazorla, Ivorian winger Gervinho and German forward Podolski. Podolski played today as a lone forward while Gervinho and Cazorla played on the wings.

Even though Arsenal were able to get the ball to them, they didn't have the patience or quality to have the midfielders follow through in the attack. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't remember seeing Podolski get the ball from a midfielder and hold it up and wait for them to join in. The only times he got the ball were from outwide.

When looking at Barcelona play, they are able to feed Lionel Messi the ball to his feet from midfield and have him hold it up there. This creates time and space and more midfield players coming forward, leaving the opposing defenders in shambles, as there are too many players.

Arsenal's attack didn't reflect this, and in my opinion should, as this would help them tremendously and not make them a one-dimensional team always playing it out wide. If Arsenal can't switch up their play, opposing teams will be able to defend tightly on them and shut them down.

Arsenal may have had a 6-1 win against Southampton, but this was a little lucky because of the own goals and personally I didn't think they should have lost that badly. But teams like Sunderland and Stoke stopped them and denied them the three crucial points because their creative players like Cazorla or Arteta always found the ball either out wide or too deep to do anything.

One can argue that Arsenal have improved from then, and I don't disagree with that statement, but the teams they tied against too were very similar to the Manchester City game in which Arsenal dominated the game, but couldn't find a result.

In conclusion, for Arsenal to win the EPL, they'll need to change their tactics and have key players on the ball in dangerous situations. If they don't, they might still get the results, but in tight games like these, they might drop the three points as they couldn't be creative enough.

Thanks for reading, and if you have any comments or questions, leave them down in the comments section below!


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