Published on December 16th, 2013 | by Ian Cheeseman0
One of the best
The first thing to say about the game against Arsenal is that it is one of the best games of football I’ve been lucky enough to attend; and I’m up to about 3000 matches in my lifetime.
On a personal basis the day had everything. I’d door stepped Ali Benarbia when I heard he was appearing in City Square, and achieved my goal with an interview that will be played in Blue Tuesday, and I’ve even managed to reunite Ali and Eyal by facilitating a swopping of phone numbers, which gives me a warm glow.
I then took my seat in the press box alongside another Blues legend, Shaun Goater, for our first commentary together. I’d already pinched myself several times, just to be sitting alongside the Goat, but then to have the job to describe the game that followed, just made the whole day very special.
I couldn’t pick a Man of the Match from that game, I thought there were so many impressive displays so I believe it would be wrong to single anyone out. I know that many went for Fernandinho, and I understand why, two goals and an immense performance and to add to the quality of the day, I got to interview the modest Brazilian after the game. How is he not in the Brazil World Cup squad? They must be awesome, if he can’t get in.
Everywhere in City’s Arsenal performance there were Man of the Match performances. Zabaleta was his usual self, Kompany led the team brilliantly and produced two forward runs of mesmeric proportions, and I’ve not even mentioned his defending. Yaya was back to his imperious best, he loves the big games doesn’t he? In that mood who can stop him? Nasri, Negredo, Silva & Aguero ; well what can you say, I don’t have the language skills to think of enough words to do them all justice.
I watched Match of the Day that evening, I’m sure you did the same, and felt like I was watching a different game. I don’t blame the editor of that programme for the way the game came across in the highlights. How do you cut a game like that down? You had to be there really to appreciate the strength and power of City’s performance.
Fair enough, Arsenal played very well and without their contribution it wouldn’t have been a great game, it would have simply been a great performance by City. Great teams are created by great challenges from great opponents, and Arsenal will be in this title race right until the end, and I know you might want to see City victorious in that race, but the pleasure of the success, if it happens, will be all the sweeter if the opponents have been as strong as Arsenal.
Over the 90 minutes, as witnessed by those lucky enough to have been in the Etihad, City were far stronger, in every sense, and it wouldn’t have been an unfair reflection of the game if City had scored a couple more. It was City’s best single performance for years, even though (whisper it quietly) there were still one of two shaky moments at the back, but if City score six every week, that won’t matter. As we know, though, it’s been away from home that those defensive blips can be exposed.
Aguero’s injury was the only blot on the day.
After the game, Manuel Pellegrini was asked if City were now favourites for the title and he answered like this, “there are many great teams still in the race, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton, Spurs, Southampton….I don’t think I’ve forgotten anyone have I?” Good answer!
– Ian Cheeseman