Okay, so the result was emphatic and although the fans won’t appreciate any crumbs of comfort, there were some to be had. The Arsenal vs Man City game turned on some key decisions and two top drawer goalkeeping errors from the Loris Karius book of goalkeeping gaffs.
One has to question Mikel Arteta’s decision to rest Leno as his replacement, Runar Alex Runarsson, suffered a night he’d rather forget. His first gaffe was his indecision when coming for a ball which was eventually turned into his net by Gabriel Jesus.
Runarsson appeared to panic or be in two minds and wasn’t assertive enough to repel the danger and he probably deserved better cover from Mustafi and Gabriel, who gave up too much ground. Riyad Mahrez then benefited from some slapstick goalkeeping in the 54th minute when a perfectly harmless but well-struck shot, which was aimed down the keeper’s throat, suddenly went through Runarsson’s gloved hands.
Leno should have kept his goal in the Arsenal vs Man City game, no excuses! If this season continues to be as dreadful as it currently is, Arteta may well be haunted by such decisions. For at least 20 minutes in the first half, Arsenal made a game of it but that was only after some inventive and creative work by the much-missed Gabby Martinelli.
The exciting youngster, who seemed to be at the heart of everything for a spell, put in a beautiful byline cross that was met by the head of Lacazette (31). At that point and with Martinelli looking as if he’d never been away, Arsenal gave a decent account of themselves without turning the screw.
That all ended when the Brazilian was clattered by Zack Steffen in the chase for a 50/50 ball and as the youngster lay writhing in agony, one sensed another long period without this thrilling talent. He lay with his shirt stretched over his face, you could almost hear the gut-wrenching disappointment of fans watching from their exiled armchairs. The fact that he even got up and saw the first half out shows his appetite for the game and I think many were surprised that he even emerged for a brief cameo in the second.
Man City edged closer to another EFL final when Fernandinho played a sweet ball through for the impressive Foden, who was a whisker offside (59) but he made no mistake as he slotted past the hapless keeper. Replays showed that the referee missed a trick and without VAR on duty, the Arsenal vs Man City game was suddenly beyond the Gunners.
I’m slightly concerned that VAR is present on some occasions and not others. If it’s in force, then it’s every game, if it isn’t, get rid of it and leave it down to human error. Don’t subject us to this half in, half out bollocks!!
Laporte (73) finished off the job with a header and by that time, there was that familiar feeling of disappointment that has been evident for weeks. Let’s not try to make this any better than it was, Arteta can use all the percentages he likes but that’s just the act of a desperate manager on the hook, in charge of a team that is way beneath its standards.
It was clear that City had another gear or two and that they could tap into any stage in the game and slightly more disturbing is the obvious gap in class between the pair which is as huge as it is undeniable.
Let’s look for positives and there were some to be had. Martinelli looks a real threat and he can unlock a defence with his pace and intelligence, let’s hope the injury is superficial because Arsenal will need his ingenuity.
Smith Rowe finally got his chance and not before time, this lad has the talent to dig Arsenal out of a hole but Arteta needs to give him regular time ahead of some other less gifted prospects. The Spaniard has talent at his fingertips and his reluctance to push them into action is understandable even if it’s misplaced.
Arsenal need to distance themselves from the strugglers and urgently need points. The immediate future outweighs the long term future of the club unless Kroenke and co want to see what the competition is like in the Championship next year. At least Arteta can now apply himself to the task at hand without the unnecessary distractions of cup competitions, the Premiership is now the priority at the expense of everything else.