Arsenal 0-0 Cowardly Arabian Petro-Dollar No-Stars: Disgraceful anti-football from the visitors

(With the exception of the above photoshop, all pictures are courtesy of Yahoo! Sports.)

I have never seen a second-placed team come to the Grove (or Highbury, for that matter) and shut up shop in such a timorous, undignified and frankly disgraceful manner in all of my time following this club (1992, for the record). This is the most open Premier League season in recent memory, with an as-yet-undefeated Manchester United side setting the pace after 20 matches. They will drop more points along the way, I promise you that...luck normalizes over a full season and those fuckers have had a horseshoe rammed up their collective ass all year. We'll see how many losses they have come August (3-4 is my prediction, for what that's worth). Anyway, the point is, the Premiership trophy is right there for whoever wants it...and with their local rivals in their crosshairs, Roberto Mancini never let them take a shot. He is spineless and so is his team for going along with it.

With that out of the way, let's discuss the side that turned up and attempted to play football. The truth is, poor finishing let the Arsenal down once again. While Joe Hart played a blinder in the City net, the men in red could easily have been three goals to the good inside of the first 20 minutes. From the first kick of the match, Arsenal eviscerated the Manchester midfield with precision passing and intelligent movement. It was a joy to watch, if you discount the end product. The manager - learning from the Wigan debacle - played the same side that humbled Chelski. Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas once again combined deliciously on a few moves in the center of the park, and at least at the beginning of the match, the Manks had no answer for it.

As early as the second minute, Arsenal should have had the lead. Nasri won the ball in midfield, and helped it along to Jack Wilshere. The lad's cross was so inviting, I tried to will myself through the television screen and into the Emirates so I could get on the end of it myself. Sadly, the laws of physics (stupid Newton) prevented me from doing so, and it was the span of several inches that thwarted Fabregas.

In fairness, the Chickens had perhaps their only serious chance of the match right afterwards. I don't remember the exact build-up, but a mistake in the Arsenal rearguard allowed James Milner to steal in and drag a shot nervously close to Lukasz Fabianski's far post. As if to mock that half-chance though, the Gunners hit the post a minute later. Robin van Persie danced his way through the City defenders (you know, all NINE of them) and lashed a rasping shot towards the far post. Hart was nowhere to be found - no knock on him, it was unsaveable - but he was rescued by the woodwork and the fact that it bounced to safety rather than to several waiting attackers in red.

Actually, pointing out the colors of the attackers is redundant, isn't it?

Seconds later, Wilshere stung Hart's palms with another shot from distance, but the City man was equal to it. Up the other end, Carlos Tevez (who otherwise had a quiet afternoon plowing a lone furrow up top) used his strength to get past Laurent Koscielny, but the Frenchman recovered well and brilliantly tackled the ball away from behind. It was typical of the solid defending that Arsenal exhibited on the exceedingly-rare occasions when it was necessary. Speaking of which, I have to say that I was impressed with Fabianski's decision-making today. As much as I've been bagging on City for the lack of ambition, there were a few instances (a horrendous Bacary Sagna backpass comes to mind) where the young keeper had to be alert and decisive to come off his line and either claim the ball or boot it out to safety. You'll hear in the various reports that the Pole had little to do, but any keeper can tell you that he quietly had a fantastic game as well.

Speaking of fantastic games, Nasri and Fabregas combined to create a chance that resulted in yet another hit post (two in fact). Nasri worked his way past the attentions of several markers, and laid it off to the captain. His Thunderbolt of God again had Hart clutching at air, but again the woodwork saved the City goalkeeper. Frustratingly, a game that could have been 3-0 on another day was still scoreless...and destined to stay so. Anyway, Theo Walcott had followed up on that chance and fired a shot which yet hit the other post, but it wouldn't have counted anyway. Unsurprisingly on the day, Theo was offside.

See, here's the thing with his performance today. In one respect, it was a stormer - his pace and direct running took advantage of the space whenever Jo or Pablo Zabaleta dared to even think of moving to an attacking position on the left side of the field (Credit where it's due - this is about the only lucid point that Jamie Massive Cunt Redknapp had while doing color commentary on ESPN). However, he too often failed to provide a final ball to a teammate or to beat the last man when running at the City penalty area. In short, he provided no end product on a day when inspiration was desperately needed against the Praetorian Guard in light blue.

Once the first 20 minutes had passed, City had composed themselves to the point where the Gunners found few passages through the final third of the field. Seriously, it felt like waging a fucking land war in Asia. In fact, our distinguished opponents managed one more half-chance, but Tevez sent an angled shot somewhere into the Van Allen Belt. That was to be their last attacking contribution of note, and it happened at the 32' mark. Well done, Manchester City! Well done! A few more failed attacks by the light side of the Force were mainly undone due to over-elaborate passing, which was easily snapped up by the City defenders. That took us to halftime, and incidentally also ended the match as any kind of viewing spectacle.

Well, that's not fair. Zabaleta made a ridiculously-good sliding tackle to take the ball away from Walcott at some point, and there was another incident where there was a shout for handball against Vincent Kompany. I swear, the day everyone learns this fucking rule is going to be an amazing one. First off, it has to be intentional, and the hand or arm has to be in an unnatural position. Seeing as how the shot came from right next to him and at great pace, even Neo from the Matrix wouldn't have been able to get out of the way in time. I know we're all frustrated about the result, but it was never a penalty. We'd be baying for the referee's blood if he had given that against us (speaking of which, Mike Jones had a solid game in somewhat tricky circumstances...fair play to him and his linos).

The real chance came at the 60' mark, though. While he largely had a quiet game, it was that man Van Persie again who received the ball a short distance outside of the penalty area. He immediately let fly with his gifted left foot, and away the ball swooshed towards the top corner of the net. I mean, he fucking HAMMERED this thing. Even in my lunchroom at work, I was springing out of my seat prepared to let loose an almighty roar. But, sadly, fate intervened in the person of Hart. He got across his line in a flash and, diving at full extension, managed to claw the shot away with his off-hand. All you can do is tip your cap to the man for a world-class save...City's # 25 is the reason they slunk back to Manchester with an undeserved point in their hands.

As far as I can recall, that was about it for scoring chances created by the Gunners. One thing that didn't help was the play of one Andrei Arshavin, who came on for Walcott in the 67th. While I can understand why young Theo was withdrawn (his sideline strop he threw aside), Arshavin provided nothing in terms of attacking thrust. He was a total black hole where offensive moves went to die. But, while that substitution was defensible, the one at 81' was mystifying. Wilshere was taken off, but instead of putting on Marouane Chamakh to give the center halves a physical presence to worry about, he threw on Nicklas Bendtner AND PUT HIM ON THE FUCKING LEFT WING AGAIN.

I. Have. No. Words.

What I do have words on is the silly confrontation that Sagna allowed himself to be sucked into with just a few minutes left on the clock. He and Zabaleta got into a tussle on the right sideline, and the City man looked to have said something to him. For whatever reason, Sagna squared up to him, and both men were forehead-to-forehead. From what I saw, they both headbutted each other. Even though it wasn't full-on Glasgow Kiss style, by the letter of the law Jones had to send off both players...which is exactly what he did. It was stupid, mindless and indefensible from our otherwise flawless right back. The upside is that the only matches he'll miss are Ipswich in the League Cup, Dirty Leeds in the FA Cup and West Ham in the league...two of which he may not have played in anyway. Oh, the other upside is that we'll be able to run through our repertoire of Emmanuel Eboue songs at the Blind Pig this weekend.

Anyway, no chances of any kind were created from that point on, and the match sputtered to its then-inevitable 0-0 denouement. City got the point that they so cravenly wanted. We got the point that was missing two of its friends...again. On the other hand, we had a much better time than Liverpool or Chelski or the Tott'scum did, so the fixtures of the day were not a total loss by any means.

I'll leave off here, though I'm sure I have another 5,000 words of bile towards City's tactics in question about it. Check back later this week for Brett's preview of our weekend date with our old friends up at Elland Road. I'll be back of course for the match report of our 7-0 evisceration of the same opponents. See you then!

(Fucking cunts celebrating like they've won the World Cup. Shameful.)

The Modern Gooner Player Ratings:

Fabianski 7, Clichy 7, Koscielny 7, Djourou 7, Sagna 6, Nasri 8, Fabregas 8, Song 7, Wilshere 7 (Bendtner 5), Walcott 5 (Arshavin 4), van Persie 6