After his thumping free-kick against Aston Villa, Arsene Wenger revealed the secret behind Mikel Arteta’s shooting: his unusually small feet. Well, rarely can such pies pequeños have been responsible for sending such reverberations through the Premier League. Arteta’s 87th minute strike has not only continued our propulsion towards Champions League qualification, but also seems to have handed the title to Manchester United.
On the evidence of yesterday, City do not deserve to be Champions. They played without fight, without passion, and with plenty of fear. When the game was poised at 0-0, they looked more scared to fail than eager to triumph. It was a curious twist of fate that this crucial defeat for them came against a side whose mental toughness has often been openly questioned. Anyone watching this game would be forced to conclude that it is City, not Arsenal, who have the flaky psychology.
As for Arsenal, the victory was fully deserved. Arteta and Song were the foundation of the victory – after City lost Yaya Toure to injury, they were unable to cope with the tenacity and technique of our midfield pair. Ahead of them, Tomas Rosicky buzzed around effectively, whilst Robin van Persie seems to be regaining sharpness – only the post and, comically, his own man denied him a brace.
We waited a long time for the goal, but in the end justice was done. There was justice also for Mario Balotelli, sent off for a second bookable offence after the referee somehow failed to notice his potentially career-ending lunge at Alex Song in the first half. Balotelli is a curious case: the press are loathe to condemn him because they love the soap opera. Why, though, has Mancini been so loathe to condemn him? It can only be because he shows ability on the training ground that makes the circus seem worthwhile. However, he’s never shown anything like that form on the pitch, so I’m not unsurprised his manager’s patience is wearing thin.
Arsenal now look ahead to a clash with relegation-battling Wolves. I say ‘battling’ – they haven’t shown too much fight in recent weeks, and look doomed. That said, it wouldn’t remotely surprise me to see them raise their game for our visit. Every match between now and the end of the season is a big one, and after losing at QPR hopefully the team have learnt that allowing concentration to drop in this league will almost always result in painful punishment.
I’m actually typing this from holiday in Mallorca, so am going to scoot off back in to the sun now. Happy Easter everyone.