By Randy Osae
Arsenal’s once ambitious season was molded into shambles after Manchester City expertly capped a chaotic week for the Gunners on Saturday.
Arsenal have been awkward, but even by their standards, a dampening 3-0 bow in Manchester was out of the blue – in embarrassment. The wildest of humiliations keep emerging from ugly to horrific.
Even an infinity thrashing of Manchester City today would fail to erase a cluttering week, and as expected, Arsene Wenger deprived Gallas a role due to the former skipper’s antics about his team. Manuel Almunia was handed the captain’s armband as four changes were made from the side humbled by Villa last weekend. Gavin Hoyte enjoyed a rare first-team call-up, while Johan Djourou, Alex Song and Robin van Persie were all introduced.
Neither team could really boast an edge during the first half. Clumsy passes and giveaways were all over. Looks were of an ordinary stalemate. Both teams looked uninventive when they intended to attempt a breaking of the deadlock. But nature will not always be fair against failure to take the initiative – so it has been for Arsenal on several occasions.
Alex Song then had the visitors’ first grip. The Cameroonian stroke awfully wide from eight yards out when set-up by Nicklas Bendtner’s cut-back which rebounded off a half saved Nasri freekick.
It was soon turn for the unexpected but not astonishing as Manchester City eventually rode their fortune to change the game. Almost on the stroke of half-time, Clichy and Silvestre both clashed in an attempt to clear Benjani’s scrambling pass. And Ireland was there to pounce onto it and easily beat Almunia with a side chip.
Arsenal now had a second-half storming to do. And despite a few close tries by Diaby and Van Persie, the home side hindered those comeback plans by doubling their advantage on 58 minutes. This time, Robinho owned the damage with a slick chip over Almunia after Wright Philips’ penetrating pass saw Arsenal shamefully stranded at the back.
From then on, the Gunners looked very futile with every single touch. Bendtner should have forged some hope had he shot fiercer against Joe Hart after being perfectly cleared through by Aaron Ramsey who had replaced a naive Gavin Hoyte. Mark Hughes’s men looked to have finally put Arsenal’s crushing day to end when Robinho tapped home after Almunia failed a simple catch.
But somehow, it was ruled offside, and somehow, the Brazilian ace spared Arsenal more disgrace when he later rounded off Almunia after another break and shot goal-bound, but Djourou raced to clear off the line.
Even so, Arsenal’s Swiss defender would be guilty of that likely concession of a bemusing third goal by the home side. He was adjudged to have fouled Sturridge in the penalty area during injury time.
And from the spot, the English youngster stepped up to ruthlessly ignite Arsenal’s misery.