Bringing Walcott back after virtually sidelining him over contract problems and letting him play centrally as he wished, paid dividends but it remains to be seen whether he will stay or go.
He took his goal well but it came from a shocking mis-defensive header from a Schalke team which was on the whole superior and would surely have won but for an unexpectedly fine performance from Mannone in the Gunners goal.
Encouraging indeed was the display of Jack Wilshere who seems whatever his recent expulsion to be coming encouragingly into his old inventive form. But the defence still will not remotely do and the experiment of putting Thomas Vermaelen at left-back was a disaster even if not as catastrophic as Andre Santos – brought on as a very late sub.
Sympathy perhaps is due to Roberto Mancini for once after a monstrously blatant shirt pull at the very end deprived Manchester City of a palpable penalty and a winning goal. But their start was abysmal, two goals so feebly given away from mere corners and it seems they are once again doomed to early elimination from the Champions League.
For much of the game Ajax, as in Amsterdam, were the superior side, at a mere trifle of City’s cost. Yes, the uselessness of the 4th official was shown when Mario Balotelli was tugged, yet it is reassuring to know that money still isn’t quite everything. Not even at Chelsea.