The title race is hotting up, as Manchester City leapfrogged Arsenal and Liverpool up to second position on Sunday afternoon
If this game was a film
I have been told that perhaps I should curb my innuendos, so surprisingly for this little segment I will not make a single sexual innuendo with the word ‘octopussy’. Instead, this 80’s Bond film was chosen because Fernando’s nickname is Octopus at the Club, and he had a fantastic game. It’s been a good month for Fernando as he is displaying just why Manuel Pellegrini brought him in to the Club last season. He had a rough start last season, but he was solid against Arsenal.
He isn’t the kind of player that’s going to do fourteen step-overs, flick it over his own head, and shoulder it through the ‘keeper’s legs and into the net (although he did have a cheeky little run deep into the second half), but he will sit there in midfield and mop up after any failed attacks, and that was vital in the second half. City were relentless in their attacking for the first thirty minutes of the second half, and that simply would not have been possible without the Octopus breaking down any attempted Arsenal counter-attack.
Sidenote: Octopussy is a horrendous film, with a misleading title.
Silkay Ilkay Gündoğan will be out for six to eight months with an injury he sustained in midweek against Watford. Gündoğan has been crucial to most things that City have done well in the last few weeks, and he has really started to hit his best form. In a nice tribute, the City players came out of the tunnel at the beginning of the game with their shirts on back-to-front and ‘Gündoğan’ written across them. It was beautiful, it was emotional, it was… a little bit trolled all over social media for being a bit dramatic.
It did highlight just how close the team are this season though. This season there is a lot more togetherness, and this solidarity can only be a good thing. After each game, Pep Guardiola makes the whole team come out onto the pitch to clap the fans, and you can see the whole team getting along and having a good chat – not the segregated team of years in the past where you’d find Robinho and Elano only talking to each other.
Although it must be said, Gündoğan did not lose his leg in this challenge. Next week the team are coming onto the pitch with ‘Bowie’ written on their tops.
Arsène Wenger after the game, in his post-match interview, said “moan moan moan, not my fault, offside, moan moan moan” or words to that effect. City’s two goals are slightly controversial because of offside calls.
The first goal came curtesy of Leroy Sané on the 46th minute. The German got his first goal for the Club as he ran behind the defence and the wizard that is David Silva lifted the ball over the defence and at the feet of Sané. Sané then sent Petr Čech the wrong way and slotted the ball into the net. There is argument as to whether Sané was offside — some say he was on the line, other’s (correctly) say that he was just off. Either way, it was a very close call, and the benefit of the doubt always goes to the attacker in football. Sorry Arsène.
The second City goal came from England winger and the nation’s scapegoat, Raheem Sterling. Sterling took some time out from pissing the nation off by buying expensive sinks and drinking half a shandy, to score a beautiful goal. Kevin de Bruyne played a classic no-look inch-perfect Fifa-17 half-volley across the field for Sterling to control on the complete other side of the pitch. It was beautiful. Sterling then did all that fancy stuff that wingers do with their feet, cut inside, and slotted home. Wenger however called for offside, as David Silva was stood in an offside position and may have affected the keeper’s line of site. This is plausible… if Petr Čech’s eyes are located just below either ear. The goal was fine.
Manchester City channelled their inner Craig David to bring about an exquisite comeback. They fell behind initially in the first half to a fourth minute Theo Walcott goal. Otamendi was playing Endless Lake on Facebook Messenger, and missed the Englishman run behind him to tap the ball in the net from a Sanchez chip. Otamendi went on to have a pretty solid performance and played some delightful through balls from centre-back, but he won’t want to see that goal again.
But from there on, City improved and brought about a high tempo, high energy game. Yaya Toure time-travelled back to 2012 and controlled the whole midfield. He was like Geppetto pulling the strings all over the place. Kevin de Bruyne was darting here and there, playing some great balls. But the real stars were the two young wingers.
After his goal, Leroy Sané grew in confidence. As it’s the festive period, it was nutmegs for everyone from the German! His speed and skill is improving each and every game. Raheem Sterling, despite his age, looked like one of the most well accomplished players in the team and he easily won the Man of the Match award. He played up front, on the left wing, and on the right wing (not all at the same time, he’s not that good), and was effective in each of these. Both of Arsenal’s full backs are currently throwing things at a small dog that they’ve named Raheem.
No dogs were harmed in the writing of this report.