Manchester City finished the game against Arsenal with a great win, but questions have to be asked about Costel Pantilimon and whether Joe Hart should now get his starting place back again. I am sure that in the next game, a League Cup tie against Leicester, he will, but I think that would have been the case even if Pantilimon had an excellent game today.
I hate to be the negative on such a great day for the fans of Manchester City, but the fact remains that if not for the awesome attacking prowess of Manchester City it may have been quite a different story. Usually for an away team to score any at the Etihad Stadium is rare, but to score three and not get a single point is just unlucky. I was a big supporter of giving Joe Hart a rest, especially after the first game against Bayern Munich when the young England keeper was at fault for at least one, possibly two of the three goals. I choose to use the word “rest” rather than “drop” because I always thought, and still do believe, that Hart is the best keeper on the team, but as it is when you play constantly for club and country for season after season, things get stale, you get comfortable and sometimes you need that rest. Arsene Wenger did it to Woljciech Szczesny toward the end of last season, and up until today he has been fantastic.
Last week against Southampton he was beaten when Daniel Osvaldo chipped him for the equalizing goal. Again today he was beaten by a Theo Walcott chip to level the game up after half an hour to 1-1. It may be slightly unfair, but at 6-foot-8 you would expect the Romanian to be a little bit more difficult to beat via that technique. That said it isn’t with these two examples I base my opinion for Joe Hart to be recalled. Numerous times in this game — and some previous ones — he has not shown the confidence to command the area. Coming for crosses and not getting enough contact being seen more often than not makes me nervous watching, and if City’s attack were to have a bad day at the office you would not have any certainty that they wouldn’t concede.