Did Arsenal expose City’s Weakness??
It was a Carabao cup match against a relatively unknown proposition called as Wolves in 2017….that was the season when we were destroying teams in the Premier league…yet a team from Championship stifled us…Fernandinho was tied in knots….man marking our CDM with a striker is not new and just like Arsenal over the weekend, quite a few teams had tried it….but Pep always found a solution to it….so why were we not able to repel such a familiar tactic from Arsenal
Bernardo did not offer the necessary workrate
People thought it was a joke when Pep told in a press conference 3 years ago that Bernardo Silva is one of the best box to box midfielders in the Premier league. The work rate that Bernardo offers is comparable to none. He is an Engine running on inexhaustible fuel. So, when a team man marks our CDM, Bernardo takes on the role of receiving the ball from the defenders and carrying the ball forward. He is virtually unpressable and rarely gives the ball away. He has been the main weapon for Pep in countering this tactic of opposition cutting off the pass to our CDM.
But over the weekend, he looked tired and gave the ball away 3 times in the first half. That was as much as he had given the ball away in the entire season. He did not race back into our box to help the defenders out on several occassions. This was not our Bernardo. I had to wipe my eyes twice to see if it was really Bernardo that was playing.
Tiredness played a key role in Bernardo’s lack lusture defensive performance. We must not forget that Bernardo played every match for City since that defeat at Spurs on the opening day. It was actually surprising for me to see him not get any rest, specially with him playing full 90 mins against a tough Brentford side.
This lack of sharpness from Bernardo forced ederson to play outwide to the full backs and Arsenal were intelligently pressing City with full rigour on the flanks. Ake specially was Arsenal’s target.
Ake’s inability to play out under pressure was exposed
I firmly believe that Ake is one of the best one on one defenders in the country, but creativity and attacking the flanks are just not his forte. This is the reason why Pep prefers Zinchenko over Ake in the full back position most of the time, even though Zinchenko is not that good defensively.
I know Ake virtually turned the match around for us single handedly with that goal line clearence and was strong in one on one defending, but his inability to receive the ball under pressure meant that City’s passing lanes were virtually non-existent and we became too predictable in our attacking approach.
All in all Arsenal caught City on a day when most of our players were tired and also the extra time Arsenal had due to one of their matches being called off helped them immensely.
All in all it was just a tired day for City and on an other occasion, City would have ripped this Arsenal side apart with their passing and movement