Manchester City v Arsenal Carling Cup 3rd Round 2004/05

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Carling Cup 3rd Round

27th October 2004

attendance 21,708

City Fowler(90)
Arsenal van Persie(78), Karbassiyoon(90)

City Waterreus, Mills, Onuoha, Distin, Thatcher, J D’Laryea, Flood, Sinclair, Sibierski, Fowler, S Wright-Phillips – subs Ellegaard(unused), Negouai(69), Jordan(84), B Wright-Phillips(79), McCarthy(unused)

Arsenal Almunia, Hoyte, Senderos, Cygan, Larsson, Pennant, Flamini, Fabregas, Smith, Lupoli, van Persie – subs Djourou(88), Owusu-Abeyie(61), Karbassiyoon(81), Cregg(unused), Taylor(unused)

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… There was another game on Wednesday, against Arsenal in the League Cup. So, the rest of the squad gathered on the Monday, and Kevin named the team there and then. I was in. Not a sub this time, but in the first eleven. I would be making my first start for Manchester City.
It dawned on me that I had no routine to prepare for a first team match…
All my experience was drawn from matches at a lower level, and now, with two days of training ahead of starting a game, I had to learn how things are done differently: set-piece work on the day before, a lttle bit more analysis than I was used to. Then the day came, and I went to college. It was a Wednesday, after all. I think it helped me avoid a long day of just waiting, over-thinking things. After finishing my classes, I drove to the stadium and made sure to go via Bradford Road, passing the old house. It only took ten minutes from Harpurhey, and I turned up to face the mighty Gunners in my silver VW Polo 1.4 with six CD changer in the back. Couldn’t get better.

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I’d now done enough training sessions with my teammates to know what I was about. The dynamics were very simple: I was a young player within that space. Kevin Keegan hadn’t made as many changes for the game as some managers would have done, so City were almost at full strength. I was sharing a dressing room with England internationals Danny Mills, Shaun Wright-Phillip, Trevor Sinclair and Robbie Fowler. I had been picked to play in the middle of defence alonside Sylvain Distin, who at that time was a first choice centre back. There were lots of good-luck wishes, because they knew how significant it was for me, even if the match itself wasn’t the most important of the season. City weren’t expected to win the League Cup, and even though Arsenal had made a lot more changes than us, they were the favourites for the match…

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… Jonathan D’Laryea also made his debut in the game. He was in the starting eleven in midfield… together we had to try to keep an eye on players like Fabregas, Mathieu Flamini, Jermaine Pennant and a young Dutch striker who was making his first start for Arsenal, Robin van Persie. He scored the opening goal of the game, his first for the club, with twelve minutes to go. Te move was sublime and he had me twisting and turning trying to stop it.
… I played the whole ninety minutes and had the greatest challenge in the last half-hour, when Quincy Owusu-Abeyie came on as sub. Now, this was the quickest man in the world, and he was determined to punish any tiredness in the City team by taking everyone on. He couldn’t get past me, though. I had speed too. It was what gave me a positive feeling about my performance, despite the defeat. I know I checked my rating in the Manchester Evening News the next day,but I can’t remember what I got. Probably a six, knowing Chris Bailey. It’s hard to give a defender a really igh score when a team loses, but I knew how difficult it had been to deal with the rapid Owusu-Abeyie, particularly when I was supposed to be tired. I would have given myself a seven…


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