Ranking Arsenal's 4 Best Performances Against Manchester City
Is it possible to feel a little disappointed with a 1-1 draw away at the English Premier League champions? It's fair to say Arsenal can be a little disappointed to have only claimed a point against Manchester City.
Their well-earned draw was made possible by four stellar performances, two in defense and two in midfield. Only a sputtering showing from the forward line denied the Gunners the win.
Here is a ranking of Arsenal's four best performances against City:
4. Carl Jenkinson
Young right-back Carl Jenkinson can often be a polarizing figure. While he is a natural defender, his skill and decision-making in possession often leave a lot to be desired.
That's why it was surprising to see the former Charlton Athletic prodigy offer Arsenal's best attacking outlet against the Citizens. Most of the Gunners most promising attacks involved key contributions from Jenkinson.
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His pace and delivery from the right posed constant problems to Roberto Mancini's defense and should have created a goal. Defensively, Jenkinson was calm and decisive in the challenge and stayed solid against a team many might have felt were certain to expose him.
While Bacary Sagna will almost certainly regain his place as soon as he is able, Arsene Wenger can take comfort from knowing Jenkinson has now developed into a legitimate EPL performer.
3. Santi Cazorla
Diminutive playmaker Santi Cazorla put together a full game for Arsenal, as he was as influential in the second half as he had been in the first. Cazorla's second-period showings against Stoke City, Montpellier and, goal aside, against Liverpool, were far from his best.
However, against City, Cazorla seemed to grow in strength as the game went on. His sure touch and quick thinking proved to be the catalyst for Arsenal's late second-half revival.
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His terrific shot forced a desperate save from City 'keeper Joe Hart, and Cazorla then took the ensuing corner that led to Laurent Koscielny's thumping equaliser. It's clear that Cazorla provides the key elements of creativity and flair to Arsenal's attacking play.
It was great to see the cerebral playmaker so eager to find space and receive the ball during the second half.
2. Mikel Arteta
Mikel Arteta is the calming influence, central to everything Arsenal do well. Against the league champions, Arteta was everything Gunners fans have come to expect: assured, smart and tenacious.
His quick and confident distribution knits Arsenal's possession play together and more importantly, keeps the pace of that passing high. Arteta's defensive work is no less significant, and this back four benefits from his uncanny knack for anticipating danger and sweeping up loose balls.
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He was always free to make start moves going against City and regularly put himself in the way of counter-attacks at the crucial moment. The £10 million Wenger paid for the ex-Everton man now looks like a steal for a player the Gunners can ill afford to be without for long.
1. Per Mertesacker
It's a difficult choice deciding whether to apply the phrase imperious or immense to Per Mertesacker's performance against the Citizens. In truth, it's probably not so difficult, as both words do justice to easily the best performance of Mertesacker's Arsenal career.
It has been a long time since this author has seen an Arsenal defender dominate in the way Mertesacker did. The former Werder Bremen skipper always managed to be in the right place at the right time to make the telling tackle or interception.
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It was easy to lose count of the number of times Mertesacker was on hand to cut out a City through pass. He either anticipated the pass or turned the ball away on the stretch.
It was a colossal performance from a player unfairly castigated at times last season. Now there can be no denying that Mertesacker is essential to Arsenal's continued defensive solidity.
Surely, it has to be considered a promising sign that Arsenal can rue not taking three points away from the home of the champions. The link between defense and midfield is proving the key for the Gunners, and both units appear to be growing in strength.
Wenger's only remaining dilemma is how to get the best from his forward line. If more consistency can be found in attack, Arsenal will have to be considered genuine contenders for major trophies.
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