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Arsenal's win over Manchester City was perfect retort to Graeme Souness

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'A team of sons-in-law' is what Graeme Souness called them; 'nice lads' but 'no rascals' was the Liverpool's legend's frank, yet strangely affectionate, assessment of the current Arsenal squad.

We all know what the Sky Sports pundit meant, but we're not sure which mother or father would be happy to invite Olivier 'loving and tactile late night hotel rendezvous' Giroud or the snarling Mathieu Flamini into their homes with their daughter on the arm. Or son - we are in 2015 after all.

Henry and Souness were probably as shocked as Manchester City looked, and Gary Neville sounded on co-commentary, throughout the match at the Etihad Stadium

Claiming there are no 'rascals' in Arsene Wenger's squad is pretty accurate and there are few figures in football who can claim to have a more comprehensive knowledge of exactly what a 'rascal' is when it comes to football, as the Tweet below illustrates…

Souness was joined by Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, who was making his debut as the new permanent fixture on the Sky punditry team, and the lead up to the match was dominated by the things that were missing in Wenger's squad.

Both men were agreed that defensive midfield was an issue and that the resilience needed to win the Premier League title was absent in the Gunners. It felt like they were already lamenting reasons behind another beautiful Arsenal defeat. All pretty patterns but no killer touch.

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What should have been most disappointing for many fans of the Emirates Stadium club was that there was little the pair were saying that they could argue with. The past few years under Wenger have been a series of glorious failures, never quite having enough to push them over the line.

With this in mind, Henry and Souness were probably as shocked as Manchester City looked, and Gary Neville sounded on co-commentary, throughout the match at the Etihad Stadium. Wenger surprised everyone by actually using a game-plan tailored specifically to the opponents.

Plans Came Together

The Gunners were compact, hard-working, stifled City's creative flow and looked dangerous on the break. Santi Cazorla converted from the spot on 25 minutes after Nacho Monreal was felled in the area by Vincent Kompany.

It got even better on the 67th minute when Cazorla floated a free-kick onto the head of Giroud in the area for the France international to nod past Joe Hart. Arsenal had a deserved lead and were defending it with comfort.

Manchester City's 12-game winning streak was ended with a whimper and their attacks more toothless than the residents of a retirement home after lights out. It will have been a worrying experience for manager Manuel Pellegrini, so the return of £30million Wilfried Bony and talisman Yaya Toure from the AFCON can't come soon enough.

Can Arsenal void getting involved in the usual ding-dong back-and-forth battles that are common place when the local rivals clash?

Sunday was the moment fans of the north Londoners had been waiting years for; was it the moment the penny dropped fro Wenger? Or was it a change of style borne out of necessity?

Their early form last season, which saw them top the table for longer than any other side, was a result of having to shore things up following a torrid run of form the season before.

What Next?

Arsenal have an FA Cup trip to Brighton and Hove Albion next weekend to continue their winning streak and then a home tie against struggling Aston Villa, but the defence of their trophy and matching up against relegation fodder is not where we will see if the lessons of the Etihad success will really have been learned. That test comes a couple weeks later.

A north London derby at White Hart Lane is a tough enough test for Arsenal, but Tottenham Hotspur have been doing all their best stuff at home and are unbeaten there now for nine straight matches. Their rivals have shown they know what it takes to win away at the Premier League champions, but Spurs are a different proposition.

Can Arsenal void getting involved in the usual ding-dong back-and-forth battles that are common place when the local rivals clash? Wenger has an exceptional record in the fixture, so he will be confident his side can repeat last season's triumph, where an early Tomas Rosicky stunner settled it.

Manchester City was the masterpiece performance from Arsenal - now it's time for the encore.

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Topics:
Manchester City
Football
Premier League
Arsenal
Graeme Souness
Liverpool

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