1. City started very well against Arsenal, passing the ball about smartly and retaining possession in the manner we’ve become accustomed to under Mike Phelan. The resolve to play Tiger-taka was dented after City conceded in the 18th minute, and an unfair red card seemed to permanently pull the rug from under the Tigers. Nonetheless they showed great spirit to not let the game get too far away from them and even shift momentum our way before we scored from the spot. Concentration lapses late on allowed Arsenal to leave with a scoreline that makes it look like we were rolled over, but that was not the case.
2. Blaming everything on the ref is a knave’s trick, and it would be preposterous to pin defeat on Mr. East. His performance does warrant a mention though, as it made a difficult task for City essentially impossible. Did Jake Livermore deliberately handle to block Coquelin’s shot? The laws of the game mean the ref is never wrong, as it comes down to his opinion on whether the use of the hand was intentional, no matter how debatable it is to outside observers. However the decision to send Livermore off, to presume Jakupović behind him had no chance of saving the shot to stop a goal without Livermore’s intervention, was plain wrong.
3. He was far more hesitant to make a strident decision later in the game when Petr Čech wiped out Dieumerci Mbokani after the substitute touched the ball beyond the helmet(ed netman). East was content to play on despite the obvious foul, and needed an assistant’s belated intervention for a penalty to be awarded. While a delayed correct decision is preferable to an instantly made but wrong call, how did East fail to make the correct decision alone?
4. While it’s true that not every foul warrants a yellow card, Santi Cazorla sure seemed to have committed enough that did to have walked.
5. Making sure a shot is not only saved, but parried away well enough to deny a follow up shot is an immensely difficult thing for a goalkeeper to do, but that’s what is needed from a goalkeeper playing for a team that wants to maintain Premier League status. Though a penalty save might convince some people to forgive other lapses, Jakupović failed in this regard twice. The first time it allowed Iwobi to strike for Arsenal’s first goal (whether or not he’s awarded the goal) and not long after a similar incident allowed Özil what should have been an easy goal but the bug-eyed meff blazed over. Presumably that’s why David Marshall has been signed, and we may see him make a City debut soon.
6. This game simultaneously showed the best and worst of David Meyler. His tenacious tackling was excellent as we chased the game but when we had the ball, and under Mike Phelan we do a lot more of that than was the case under Steve Bruce, his lack of smooth first touch made him culpable for City coughing up possession many times, meaning Phelan has the Meyler Dilemma to ponder. He isn’t the only guilty party, Adama Diomande’s first touch was a slide tackle on many an occasion, and when he was introduced, Mbokani showed a deft touch and an ability to spin his marker, which may make him a preferable option to Diomande now that Phelan has it. The ‘Big League’ is a harsh taskmaster.
7. The silver lining, if there was one, to Livermore’s dismissal was the introduction of Hazmat. Just how ace is Harry Maguire? Ace enough to warrant being considered for a centre half role without suspensions and injuries to others.
8. Stoke on Wednesday, and an unglamorous but perfectly presentable opportunity to make the fourth round of the League Cup (NB: the advantage of refusing to ever call anything by its sponsored title is that you never have to keep up with name changes – and you know what we feel about name changes…) Mike Phelan played a surprisingly strong side in the victory at Exeter last month, and this feels like the perfect opportunity to see how a few of his new players are looking. As a few of them will likely become first team regulars as the season progresses it wouldn’t even constitute the deliberate weakening of the side so common to cup competitions, and with Stoke in a world of pain at the moment, we strongly fancy passage into the next round.
9. It would appear Curtis Davies has made more tackles, intercepted more opposition passes, cleared more crosses, and likely solved more crimes, stopped more wars and cured more known diseases than any other footballer in Europe over the last month or so. And he’s ours.
10. Rest in peace, Daniel Wilkinson. A young life tragically snuffed out playing the game he loved, and who in the recent past played that game in City’s employ. Our condolences go to his family.