Arsenal (1) 1 Manchester City (1) 4
Carabao Cup Quarter Final
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Tuesday, 22nd December 2020. Kick-off time: 8.00pm
(4-2-3-1) Alex Rúnarsson; Cédric Soares, Gabriel Magalhães, Shkodran Mustafi, Sead Kolašinac; Dani Ceballos, Mohamed Elneny; Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock, Gabriel Martinelli; Alexandre Lacazette.
Substitutes: Bernd Leno; Kieran Tierney, Nicolas Pépé, Pablo Marí, Eddie Nketiah, Emile Smith-Rowe, Folarin Balogun.
Scorers: Alexandre Lacazette (31 mins)
Yellow Cards: Mohamed Elneny, Shkodran Mustafi
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 42%
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Assistant Referees: Stuart Burt and Nick Hopton
Fourth Official: David Coote
Attendance: A maximum of 300 attendees due to UK government coronavirus restrictions
Sadly we will be without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for tonight’s Carabao Cup quarter-final against Manchester City because of a calf injury; however, Gabriel Martinelli is back in the starting lineup for the first time since suffering an injury in March Tonight is our twenty-ninth appearance at this stage of this competition, more than any other club, so the omens are good, we hope. Let’s go!
With barely two minutes on the clock, the visitors took the lead with a headed goal from point-blank range by Gabriel Jesus that arrived from a cross via Oleksandr Zinchenko. This could be a long night. Manchester City dominated proceedings, as one would expect; shortly after the goal, Fernandinho got a glimpse of our goal from twenty-five yards and took a shot that went inches wide of the post. Arsenal just could not get out of their own half for any long periods, and when we did, they were dispossessed, and the status quo was maintained. We found it extremely difficult not only to string a series of passes together, but to push on into the City half, as the Mancunians quickly shut our players down and out of the game. Dangerously, we consistently give away repeated free-kicks, and frustration started to creep in, and in doing so, Mohamed Elneny and Shkodran Mustafi were booked for silly challenges. Just after the half hour, totally against the run of play, we broke out of our own half; Gabriel Martinelli took the ball out to the left, crossed it deep into the City penalty area for Alexandre Lacazette to score with a header to equalise matters. With an unexpected goal under our belts, the flavour of the game started to change, as it became a more open contest with both sides probing and testing each other. All to play for now. With five minutes to go before the break, Alex Rúnarsson found himself on a one-to-one situation with Gabriel Jesus, and showed great composure in blocking the shot. Just before half-time, Gabriel Martinelli (our best player of the night), was involved in an incident with Zack Steffan, the City goalie; it looked serious, but he was able to return to the fray after being attended to by the Arsenal coaching staff on the pitch. The half-time whistle went shortly afterwards, and undoubtedly his injury will warrant extra attention in the dressing room.
At the beginning of the second half, Gabriel Martinelli broke down in pain, and was replaced by Nicolas Pépé. The match started to become a wee bit scrappy, with sloppy tackles going in from both sides and passes going astray. Nine minutes after the restart, Riyad Mahrez scored the visitors’ second goal of the night, when his free-kick went over the Arsenal wall and Alex Rúnarsson found it difficult to hold, and pushed it into the net. Five minutes later, City showed their class, when Phil Foden ran onto a ball from Fernandinho, and simply lobbed it over Alex Rúnarsson and into the net. Emile Smith-Rowe came on for Mohamed Elneny with twenty-five minutes of the match remaining, and things sharpened up a bit. Alexandre Lacazette was unlucky when his powerful shot hit the side netting from close range. City got their fourth goal when Phil Foden collected the ball from a short corner and crossed it over into the Arsenal penalty area for Aymeric Laporte to head into the net from point-blank range. After that, we just simply and slowly faded away and ran out of steam. Although we did make some good movements on and off the ball, and Nicolas Pépé was unlucky in not scoring a couple of times, but generally it was a disappointing evening.
One shot on target all game, and that was the goal. Unbelievable. Although we did have one or two bright spots, overall we were a second-rate outfir for most of the game. Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith-Rowe stood out, but Manchester City were utterly clinical, and we were comical. It almost seems as if everyone out there are just simply going through the motions, and at times like this, we really need all hands to the wheel. Chelsea are our next visitors on Saturday afternoon, and depending on other results around us, this match could be a turning point for us.
Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Chelsea at the Emirates on Saturday, 26th December (Boxing Day) at 5.30pm(Premier League). Victoria Concordia Crescit.
Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.