Arsenal 1 Manchester City 3 – This was very much something for Newcastle United to aspire to
It ended Arsenal 1 Manchester City 3.
A football match that was absolutely exhilarating.
The two teams at the top fighting it out for three points and potentially, the title itself, even though still months to go and the two clubs now only separated by goal difference.
Forget just a for a moment Manchester City’s one million and one financial charges and how annoying Mikel Arteta is.
This was very much something for Newcastle United to aspire to.
Arsenal 1 Manchester City 3 was a brilliant football match, with the two best football sides in the Premier League playing.
That might not guarantee both of these clubs ending up in the top two places as there is always the possibility of a team playing less football, with less pure footballing quality, managing to find a way to pick up more points over the course of a season. Such as one of them Uniteds for example…
However, this is very much how I would dream of Newcastle United playing on a regular basis.
Eddie Howe has taken NUFC on a huge journey already, quite incredible in just 16 months how we have gone from absolutely clueless Bruceyball, where he didn’t even think Joelinton and Fabian Schar were worth a place in the team ahead of Isaac Hayden and Ciaran Clark, to seriously high level brave football where it is about technique and keeping the ball as much as humanly possible.
Last night though was on another level again.
One of those matches where the quality of football is so high and played with such intensity, every player willing to take the ball and prepared to always try then and pass the ball safely to a teammate even when under immense pressure.
A game where a mistake would likely be severely punished and so it proved.
Tomiyasu under pressure gifted the ball to de Bruyne who produced a sublime 24th minute finish.
Next mistake was Ederson giving Arsenal the opportunity to equalise from the penalty spot after one of those situations where the striker (Nketiah) plays the ball before colliding with the keeper. Everybody on TV was saying it was definitely a penalty but for me it is the kind of situation where you fear at Wembley, Man U would get the decision at one end but Newcastle United wouldn’t at the other.
That 42nd minute Saka equaliser from the spot, then looked as if it might see points shared for a lot of the second half but then a mistake from Gabriel near the halfway line led to a rapid Man City punishment, Haaland and Bernardo Silva combining to set up Grealish for the killer 72nd minute goal.
Haaland himself added a third on 82 minutes to rub it in for the new league leaders and whilst it is only on goal difference, even though 16 games still to go, you have to feel that Man City are now going to make it five titles in six years. Maybe their trickiest opponent in potentially preventing that could be the football authorities, if they prove serious in stopping what has been clearly going on at the Etihad for many years.
Purely in a football sense though, this Arsenal 1 Manchester City 3 match was pure joy.
No doubt the Arsenal fans will now be wanting Mike Arteta sacked, after all they were calling for his head less than a year after he took over in December 2019 despite him delivering the FA Cup and European football within months of taking over. Then same again last season when missing out on a Champions League place at the very end of the campaign, thanks to the battering they took at St James’ Park in their final away game.
However, in just over two years, Mikel Arteta has done an outstanding job. Arsenal already had some very good players but he has added some great signings and has turned them into a proper team, which hadn’t maybe been the case previously.
Pep Guardiola’s apprentice has very clearly taken his education at the Etihad and used it to great effect. Last night’s match was very much like watching two Manchester City teams play, with maybe Haaland the difference both last night and over the course of the season overall, by the time we get to late May.
Rather than that clueless all out defence.under Steve Bruce and give ASM the ball in his own half and hope he does something with it, or alternatively just kick it anywhere, so long as you kick it hard. Eddie Howe has imprinted his style on the team, ball playing defenders in Trippier, Schar and Botman starting things from the back and playing possession football where everybody knows their jobs. Keeping the ball, not panicking, at times getting rid of it up the pitch if no other option, but vast majority of time, keep the ball and dominate the opposition. Impose yourself on the other team.
Eddie Howe has his template and it includes the ability to tweak where necessary.
Just a case now of over time building and building, adding one or two even better first team selections each season, along with others for the squad, particularly young signings with potential.
With Arsenal 1 Manchester 3 I saw the future I think at St James’ Park.
Eddie Howe has taken us a long way along the road already and now just a case of keeping going, keeping on track, seeing short-term setbacks for what they are.
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