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Arsenal Maintain Their Grip on Fourth


Thanks to a brace from Emmanuel Adebayor, Arsenal continue on their quest to retain Champions League play for next year.  With a vacuum of newsworthiness over the last weeks, at least in regard to the Premier League, speculation turned to Cesc Fabregas’ return and whether or not the Gunners were a better team without their young captain.  Yes, there are papers to sell.

Arsenal were, before the international break, perhaps the best they’ve been all season, and the anticipation of Fabregas, Adebayor, and Theo Walcott returning to fitness seemed to be coming at the right time.  Losing Robin van Persie and Abou Diaby to injuries picked up on international duty, and Samir Nasri to the flu, Wenger certainly hoped his returning stars could find their rhythm today.

Surely Fabregas would need time to find his form, especially that precision passing and perfectly-timed first ball.  All the returning skipper was able to do was set up both of Adebayor’s goals, from perfectly-lofted kicks into City’s box for last season’s 30-goal scorer.  While still short of playing at his best, today’s assists simply show how much of Fabregas’ value derives from his innate vision.

Unfortunately for Manchester City, Mark Hughes found himself using up two substitutions before the break, and was already without Stephen Ireland.  Wayne Bridge and Vincent Kompany limped off early, and Robinho, due for a spell on the bench, was heard from very little throughout the match.

There was nothing unusual in Arsenal’s performance.  They were dangerous in their passing style early on and throughout the game.  Adebayor’s goals were finished with some magnificent class, but ultimately resulted from City’s inability to defend.  While dazzling, some of the Gunners’ best play fizzled out in their opponent’s 16 yard box.

Walcott stretched the defense, and with crisp passing, it looked to be a long day for the Citizens.  More surprising was how Arsenal arrived on the ball first.  It’s not often this season when a Arsene Wenger can say his team were winning the majority of 50-50 balls, and really owning the midfield.

It was always a tough day for Mark Hughes and his side, a team with a horrendous away record.  But if you can keep Arsenal from creating tempo and lengthy possession, you’ve always got a chance.  City certainly began the game with that intent, but couldn’t seem to maintain it.

Advantage shifted straight to the home side shortly after the first goal, despite some City pressure on Manuel Alumnia.  After the second, it became seemingly one-way all the way.  What few chances City had were on the break, and Arsenal did well to snuff them out and resume their possession game.

Adebayor’s brace afforded Wenger the opportunity to sub him and Fabregas before a full ninety minutes, and it easily could have been more than a two-goal win for the Gunners.  Like many victories for Arsenal when they are on their day, there always could have been more if not for spurned chances.  Much credit is due to Mark Hughes’ side for not letting the score really get away from them.

Oh, how much good a little time in fourth place can do, which seems to be Arsenal’s motto these last few years.  You could argue that City’s performance flattered them, but with players returning to fitness in a side finding it’s form, optimism has fully returned to north London.

Arsenal 2-0 Manchester City [Premier League]

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  1. JLay

    April 6, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    I’m no Arse fan, but Adebayor and Fabregas looked solid this weekend despite the long layoff. Adebayor seems to have matured a bit since last season.

    I’m happy to say that Ade has officially been replaced by Ashley Young on my all-whiner team.

  2. Dan

    April 6, 2009 at 12:48 am

    Very nice article. I wish there were more articles like this on this site every weekend. It would be nice for every team or game to have an article like this on the site at least once every couple of weeks. I think arsenal have grown stronger over the season without Fabregas and others. And to get them back allows Wenger to rotate players in and out effectively and hopefully compete on all remaining fronts. Just please don’t let key players go like last summer. We can’t rebuild every year just to do it again the next! Down with the yellow submarine!

  3. ArthurArseGooner

    April 5, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    I just want to say again, good article. I hate that most of the gooners only come out to defend themselves when there is a bad article. We should applaud the good ones too.

  4. Simon Burke

    April 4, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Good article, Arsenal were very very good at times today and City were third best – I cant believe this was the same team that spanked us 3-0 earlier this year. We look a lot better now and teams I think will be scared of us at the tail end of this season…

  5. Brian

    April 4, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    It was a fair question leading up to today. If Fabregas wasn’t directly involved in both goals, there’d be an echoing of that sentiment. Thought I’d throw one non-Man U piece your way Arthur

  6. ArthurArseGooner

    April 4, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    sell papers? this blog was the one that said arsenal were better without fabregas, looks like this blog needs extra hits to get more from ad revenue.
    but good article non the less.

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