Manchester City 1 – 1 Arsenal: match report
Arsenal came from behind to snatch a draw at the Eithad Stadium yesterday after a frantic 90 minutes of football. Laurent Koscielny smashed in from close range nine minutes from time to earn a well-deserved point for the Gunners after a dominant second-half display.
Joleon Lescott had opened the scoring for the hosts after Arsenal’s old defensive frailties from set pieces returned momentarily. Vito Mannone marred what was an otherwise fine display by rushing out into no man’s land, allowing the City centre-back to nod home from a David Silva corner – but Arsenal admirably kept on going and had the better of City from then on. With Mikel Arteta and the spectacular Santi Cazorla manipulating the play from midfield, you can see why Gunners fans feel quietly confident of ending a soon-to-be-eight-year wait for a trophy. And it’s Cazorla who deserves a big pat on the back for his part in the equaliser, after producing a fine save from Joe Hart after a rasping drive to force the telling corner.
City, on the other hand, are evidently still settling in to their title defence, with Mancini tinkering once more with his starting line-up from the 11 which started midweek in Europe. Pablo Zabaleta and Lescott returned in place of new boys Maicon and Matija Nastasić, whilst Scott Sinclair was somewhat surprisingly handed his home début, with England international James Milner not even good enough to make the squad. The former Swansea man didn’t last long, however, as Jack Rodwell was thrown on at half-time in an attempt to gain some form of midfield supremacy.
But it was Wenger’s men who pressured from all areas, as their fluctuating 4-3-3 formation continued to cause a disgruntled Mancini all sorts of problems. Unfortunately for the north Londoners, most of their fine play ended up at the feet of Gervinho, an increasingly wasteful, erratic and overall frustrating figure at the spearhead of Arsenal’s attack. It was he who had the chance to win it in injury time, spinning smartly before all too predictably snatching at the shot like a sugar-fuelled school-boy and ballooning it over the bar.
The home side had their fair share of chances as well, Vincent Kompany being the pick of them with a superb overhead kick which was smartly denied by Mannone and Sergio Agüero from the follow-up somehow managing to prod wide after Koscielny seemed somewhat willing to render his equaliser as pointless with some bizarre defending. However, with this season’s star performer, Carlos Tévez, surprisingly left on the bench and Agüero clearly still finding his feet after a spell on the sidelines, City’s main threat still arrives from the imperious Yaya Touré, his driving bursts the only real source of danger at this moment with David Silva still out of sorts.
As for Arsenal, we must remember the season is only five games old and cautious optimism must be preached in their camp in order to continue a steady progression. Centre-forward is a big problem for them and they’ll hope Olivier Giroud can start producing the goods so that they don’t have to rely on a certain Ivorian. One would be forgiven for wondering how this side would have looked if Robin van Persie had just been a little more patient and not bolted after one full season in the side. But that’s all mindless conjecture, what is for sure is that a summer of misery has been shafted for the Gunners, whilst a summer of celebration has been put firmly into context for the Champions.