Newsletter #988

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A disappointing 2-1 result in a game where we did more than enough to secure at least one point, but were not helped by some appalling refereeing decisions by the red shirt and card wielding Mr Wiley. Anelka now faces a 3 match ban, unless City and/or the FA decide to step in and question his ridiculous decision in a last minute ‘handbags’ incident, which involved the equally guilty Cole, Edu and the Elk. How many more times are Arsenal to get away with this sort of behaviour, and how many more times do we believe that their manager “did not see it”?

We have match reports tonight thanks to David and Paul, opinion on current and future squad members and the usual requests.

The first team return to London on Wednesday night for the FA Cup fourth round replay at Spurs, and the reserves are in action tomorrow night at Hyde, somewhat bizarrely playing an ‘away’ game against Wolves.

Next game: Tottenham Hotspur, away, 7.45pm Wednesday 4 February (FA4)

MATCH REPORT I ‘TV’: ARSENAL 2 MCFC 1

Well this was different – KK realised that our normal attacking style would not work against Arsenal and packed midfield; with a little luck and a fair referee we might have got a draw. So some progress.

The plan to pack midfield broke down just before half time when Distin decided to become a forward, a 50:50 decision went against us and Anelka lost the ball; we were bereft at the back – Tarnat had no option and was unlucky that the ball didn’t bounce wide. Up to this point the ref had had an OK game apart from a blatant failure to control a free kick by Henry after clearly indicating that he shouldn’t take the kick until he signalled – Henry should have been booked. But come the second half he favoured the team in red.

City held their own up to 70 minutes and brought on Fowler and an invisible man named McManaman or something. Fowler turned and was brought down by Campbell – at least a free kick and arguably a booking given the position, but no; play on to give Henry the chance to score the type of goal that sets him apart from the rest – super goal but the position shouldn’t have arisen with a good ref. City plug away and Anelka scores a good goal and ends up in an altercation with Cole, with Edu flying in with his hands at Anelka’s head; my view – three players off: Anelka, Cole and Edu, but our ref who has now lost control of an easy game to referee sends off Anelka, books Cole and ignores Edu. Apparently Cole was booked for holding onto the ball – so what about raising his arm into Anelka’s throat, pushing and raising his hand to Anelka’s head? Also, bring in Ice Hockey rules – third man into an altercation always goes off to try to stop things escalating.

Plus points – recognition by KK that we need to adapt tactics to suit different teams, David James – if he plays as well as this in every game we won’t go down, Anelka shows that he really cares despite his normal laconic approach, generally City all dug in and didn’t give much away. Puzzle – why no defender on the bench?

David Lewis <dfl(at)microscopist.freeserve.co.uk>

MATCH REPORT II ‘TV’: ARSENAL 2 MCFC 1

I watched this game on Sky in a pub. I was relieved that we were playing a 4-5-1 formation, which has worked well in the past away from home. I was less impressed that Sibierski was not one of the midfield five as he more than any other midfielder has the ability to get forward and score a goal. I would have rather have seen Antoine start instead of Sinclair or Sweep but I am not the boss. Arsenal looked really dangerous, especially down the flanks with Pires & Ljungberg looking dangerous. Arsenal’s interplay and slick-passing looked as if it could open us at will. How Henry missed a virtual open goal I will never know.

Let’s talk about the first goal City conceded via Michael Tarnat. When the cameras panned across I saw the Dunny monster trying desperately to get across to close Henry down. As we know, Henry put a low ball in the box that was turned in by Tarnat. Even if Tarnat had not intervened there was a huge chance that Freddie Ljungberg would have dispatched the cross. I don’t blame Michael Tarnat here. Later on at the half time interval the spot on Andy Gray analysed what went wrong… he looked back to earlier in play when Anelka lost possession rightly or wrongly just past the half way line (by the way this was not a foul). This left City on the front foot. Q: Where was Sylvain Distin? Andy Gray knew the answer. He was spotted racing up the left to support the attack. Unbelievable. This left the City defence short of an extra body at the back that I think would have made the difference for the OG. As it turned out we were 3 against two when Henry and Freddie broke. I have no doubt that if Distin had not gone AWOL from his position Arsenal would not have scored. Tarnat had to come across to close Freddie down, effectively doing what Distin was supposed to do. This one solitary decision by Distin cost us dear. As a defender myself I cannot for the life of me fathom why Distin felt it necessary to join the attack? For God’s sake we are playing one of the swiftest counter-attacking teams on their own patch with a back four. I could have understood if it was one the five midfielders running off up front to help Nicky in attack but not one of our own centre-backs.

What a poor, poor decision this was by Distin. Herein lies the City defence’s main problem. Sylvain Distin wants to play further forward. He wants to get forward and join attacks. He is not a defender’s defender if that makes sense. Last season when he was the left-sided centre back of a trio this was not so bad as there were often enough bodies back to cover. To abandon your defensive position against one of the best teams in the land is madness. It is such naivet

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