In many ways, this draw is both a good and bad result. City have still won just one league game at Arsenal since 1975, and given the current state of affairs the Gunners find themselves in, with Alexis and Özil meant to be wanting away, the whole Wenger mess, all coupled with their recent poor form. Naturally, City failed to take advantage and compound Arsenal’s woes, and a draw will do nothing in particular to abate either sides’ worries. Arsenal, lying in 6th, must fear not only that they won’t finish above Spurs, but the prospect of finishing outside of the top 4 for the first time in forever. City are a little more secure and will perhaps be glad to have no conceded points to this direct rival, despite failing to take all three in a game that can only be described as ersatz in nature.
Here’s three things I learnt from today’s game…
City desperately need to buy several defenders. For a couple of years now, most recently when we signed John Stones, betting accounts attempting to interact with fans have tweeted something along the lines of ‘Manchester City have spent twelve trillion on partners to partner Vincent Kompany’, usually attached to a picture of a sad looking defender or that cool guy who points at the camera with all the glory of a 1920’s film star. Wonder where he is now?
We managed to acquire John Stones, who am I a massive fan of as I have previously mentioned, and even at times rate Nico Otamendi, but if one of those two picks up an injury…
Last summer we were linked with Leo Bonucci, quite possibly the best centre-back in the entire world. Questions were raised over any high potential fee for the 29-year-old, but to be honest the kind of ability he has, and the wisdom he could implant upon John Stones would be priceless.
I don’t need to mention our full back situation, just please Txiki, please, please, please buy at least three this summer. We’re desperate. I never want to see Jesus Navas at right back ever again. I don’t really ever want to see Jesus Navas again, though. With arguably the best manager in the world, City now more than ever before have a chance to make clean sweeps at trophies. Last summer can be classified as success in some ways but this may be the defining summer of our last few years, for the simple question of: who can we get rid of? Can we attract the right players?
It is clear to me that if we achieve a finish within the top 4, which looks very doable after today’s result, it will be mostly thanks to our commanding away record. This record currently stands at 15 games, 10 wins, 1 draw and 4 losses. Though the title race has long since died a death, despite the intense willing of lurid pundits to try and rehabilitate any festering hopes other clubs have of catching champions Chelsea, I can see a lot of City fans regarding a top 4 finish, especially a finish in 2nd or 3rd, as a not bad first season for Pep, especially given the problems we’ve had – though perhaps the FA Cup would help too. Crashing out of the Champions League hurt, but it has put us on a level with the other clubs in our race, aided further by the help of some key injuries to key players at other clubs. With top 4 secured we could look towards next season with genuine hope, as Chelsea will have to play in Europe and the playing field will be equal.
I want to end with something very positive, which I have taken not only from today’s game, but our last few weeks of football. Last summer, Pep started his reign by rooting out fan favourite Joe Hart. Tears were shed. This season, many in the free-floating football intelligentsia, pumped up on their own ego, have berated Pep for selling Agüero… something he has not yet done. I personally have seen articles from Stan Collymore and Robbie Fowler slating Pep for his treatment of Agüero, and I am sure they’re many more.
But who among us can say that Pep’s tough love for Sergio isn’t working? He’s reacting tremendously. You can see his play is developing, coming deep and making connections with Leroy, for example. He’s chasing down all loose balls as if it was natural, he’s Tevez’ing it. Sergio is improving and developing with every game, see both his scoring record and his general play. I really think this could be the start of something beautiful. My mind boggles at any prospect of Gabby Jesus and Serge, it really does.