Not since USA 4 USSR 3 in the Miracle On Ice, not since Ty Law picked off Kurt Warner and sent the +14 point underdog Patriots on their merry way in 2001, not since Sunderland shocked mighty, mighty Leeds in ’73, has there been as big a sporting upset as last night’s miraculous 0-0 draw between big bullies Arsenal and brave, tiny minnows Manchester City.
City, who’s Scrooge like owner Sheikh Mansour has only invested a paltry £573m in the club, defied the massive odds stacked against them to come away with a hard fought point from fortress Highbury. Man of the match was undoubtedly feisty young goalkeeper Joe Hart, who’s only claim to fame is that he is a full English international. Hart watched helplessly as Arsenal pounded the woodwork several times in the first half, but reacted superbly to tip over a potentially game winning rasper from Van Persie late on.
Striker Carlos Tevez also impressed. City’s adventurous, swashbuckling, cavalier manager Roberto Mancini employed Tevez in an imaginative role slotted in neatly just in front of the back nine, a kind of a 9-1-0 formation that looked revolutionary and forward thinking. Tevez rolled up his sleeves, tucked his Snood in and tackled his big Argentinean heart out all night long.
City’s ‘no-name’, heroic, battling midfield quartet of underdogs, De Jong, Barry, Milner and Touré almost brought a tear to the eye as they fought all night long to keep up with the Arsenal bullies, like 19 year old Jack Wilshire. The Dutch World Cup finalist, England international mainstays and former Barcelona star, valued at a piffling combined £100m, stuck studiously to their manager’s genius plan of none of them coming within 25 yards of the Arsenal goal. This ensured City had all the defensive cover they needed, and made the absolute most out of Mancini’s meager resources.
This courageous 0-0 almost makes up for the 0-3 thrashing Arsenal administered to City earlier this Premiere League season in Manchester when City, at home, were forced to, you know, play football.
This result will come as an enormous boost to beleaguered City, who are wallowing down the Premiere League table in lowly second place, and facing a financial crisis unlike any other club in English football.
Things are so bad in Manchester financially, that they are barely able to scrape together £27m to invest in Edin Dzeko, arriving next week in a desperate attempt to buy in some quality. Dzeko, ostensibly an attacking player, might be used as an auxiliary left back by Mancini, perhaps employing him in a brave, attacking 5-1-4-0 formation, with Dzeko pushing forward to support the four holding midfielders.
One thing is crystal clear, with battling, hard working and indeed heroic performances like these, the future is a turgid, stinking pile of dung for City fans all over the world. One would have to think £573m just isn’t worth quite what it used be.
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