Arsenal 0 Man City 0
Much of the talk over the last couple of days has been about City’s incredibly negative approach to a game they never aimed to win. A goalless draw is what they sought, a goalless draw is what they got. But while plenty have criticised them for forcing the game into tedium, I am left questioning the tactic in the first place.
If I said to you that it made little difference to City whether they drew or lost the game, would you wonder why they never went for it?
By the time kick off arrived, Spurs had already lost to United, leaving City two points behind their rivals for fourth place, but with this game in hand. After the game, both teams would have three games to play, including the pivotal match between the pair at Eastlands in the final week.
But here’s the thing – City cannot rely on Spurs dropping points in their other two games, which are at home to (a now safe from relegation) Bolton, and away to Burnley, whose relegation has already been confirmed. So City came into the game knowing that to finish fourth, they had to do one of two things:
- Win Saturday’s game, therefore rising into fourth place, and then draw with Spurs.
- Beat Spurs.
If Spurs do win their other two games, it makes no difference whether City are one or two points behind them going into that crucial match, so it really made no odds whether they drew or lost on Saturday. They would have had to beat Spurs either way. It would have therefore been worth their while to at least have a go – if they had beaten us then a draw against Spurs would suffice, and even if we had destroyed them, it wouldn’t had left them in a worse position.
It was a truly bizarre approach to take to the game, and one I still cannot understand. Self-defeatism at its very best.
There is very little to say about the game itself. Van Persie provided our best moments, while the only real chance they had stemmed from a Vieira run before Sol Campbell ended the move in style. Mancini gave the crowd a chance to swing from extreme to extreme by bringing Adebayor on for Vieira in the second half, providing us with the comedy moment of a standing ovation followed by a chorus of boos louder than I’ve heard in a long time. In the end, the pantomime was required just to liven the day up – there really was nothing else on offer.
So third is almost secured – we cannot catch the leaders but the point makes it almost impossible to be overtaken. For us, it was important to produce a reaction after the Wigan game, and in fairness, the players gave it a good go, but for City, the game could have been pivotal, yet they never gave themselves a chance.
Frankly, I hope Spurs avoid defeat to them and claim that final Champions League spot. Putting rivalry aside, I think they deserve it. The City revolution can wait.