Arsenal 1 Manchester City 1

FA Premier League
Saturday 29 March 2014, 17.30 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Clichy, Toure, Fernandinho, Nasri (Garcia 81), Silva, Navas (Milner 64), Dzeko (Negredo 85)
Unused: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Lescott, Jovetic
Goals: Silva (18)
Booked: Toure, Kompany, Silva, Garcia

Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the Match: David Silva

Kompany tackles Giroud.

Kompany tackles Giroud.

City have missed a chance to overtake Chelsea in the Premier League table following a draw at Arsenal. In the bigger picture of the season, however, it could be a valuable point for the Blues, with some tricky fixtures ahead.

The visitors began the game much in the same vein as they did at Old Trafford earlier in the week, but the breakthrough was slower to come. Zabaleta twice found himself in behind the Gunners’ defence, but on both occasions the pull-back didn’t find a City shirt. Navas picked up the rebound to the first and tried an effort from range, but it flashed just wide of the top corner.

The away fans had their hearts in their mouths on 12 minutes when Rosicky went down under a challenge from Zabaleta. The referee, though, was unmoved, pointing for a goal kick, and it was the correct decision. In fact, the Arsenal man was lucky not to be shown a yellow card for a dive.

Just before the 20-minute mark, the Blues took the lead, in a manner that was eerily reminiscent of the way they opened the scoring in Tuesday’s Manchester Derby. Silva lead the City breakaway and fed Dzeko on the left side of the box. The Bosnian’s effort slammed into the near post and landed perfectly for the Spaniard to prod the rebound into the net.

Flamini thought he had equalised a few minutes later, but his volley – which he bounced down into the ground and over Hart into the net – was correctly ruled out for offside. City’s offside trap was still looking very disciplined and had worked. At the other end, Nasri was desperate to get on the scoresheet, but his low volley was well held by Szczesny.

Sagna battles with Toure.

Sagna battles with Toure.

The feeling, though, was very much that City hadn’t scored more when they were in control of the game – and they could have been punished for it. Dzeko had the chance to make it two for the Blues, but Szczesny got down well to make the save. It turned out to be crucial, as Flamini peeled away from Fernandinho inside the City box, as the Brazilian slipped on the greasy turf, and turned Podolski’s cross into the net.

On the hour mark, City were thankful to Hart for a brilliant save in a spell of Arsenal pressure. Podolski was clean through on goal on the left side and, with Hart bearing down, smashed a shot towards the net – but the England goalkeeper diverted it behind at the near post with his boot.

City were being restricted to breakaways as the home side had wind in their sails, but Fernandinho was close to giving the Blues the lead for the second time with a long range effort. The ball fell nicely for him to volley and it was smashed back towards the net – with Szczesny flicking it over the bar with a fingertip.

Despite the home side having more of the ball, it was still the Blues with the better of the chances. A goalmouth scramble almost had City back in the lead, but Toure couldn’t force the ball over the Arsenal goalkeeper after trying to go round the Polish international, before the rebound wouldn’t fall for Nasri or Dzeko waiting in the middle.

With tricky games to come, City seemed content with a point from the evening – but, on another day, they could have had all three.

Manchester City 6 Arsenal 3

FA Premier League
Saturday 14 December 2013, 12.45 KO

City: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Clichy, Fernandinho, Toure, Silva (Milner 71), Nasri (Garcia 90), Aguero (Navas 49), Negredo
Unused: Hart, Lescott, Kolarov, Dzeko
Goals: Aguero (14), Negredo (39), Fernandinho (50, 88), Silva (66), Toure (pen 90+5)
Booked: Silva, Kompany

Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the Match: Fernandinho

Negredo battles with Wilshere.

Negredo battles with Wilshere.

Where to begin with this one? Goals, defensive lapses, attacking flair, injuries, contentious penalty decisions, chances galore, two stoppage time goals… There’s not enough bandwidth on the internet to be able to go into too much detail, I fear.

It started with City on the front foot. A series of corners looked threatening, but the Blues didn’t manage to test Szczesny even if the visitors were pinned into their own half. The Gunners could have opened the scoring through Wilshere – against the run of play – on 12 minutes, but his effort was scuffed wide.

Instead, it was one of the home side’s in-form forwards who netted first. A corner from the right flank was flicked to the back post by Demichelis, where Aguero adjusted his body to volley past Szczesny from about eight yards out. It wasn’t quite a bicycle kick, but it was a stunning finish.

The Blues should have doubled their lead shortly after, following some great skill from the captain. Kompany won the ball in midfield and had to twist and turn to keep it around two challenges, before he slid it through to send Negredo one-on-one with Szczesny. The striker, though, skewed his right-footed shot well wide.

On the half hour, though, the visitors pulled level – against the run of play and teaching City to take their chances. Toure was caught in possession on the halfway line to Ramsey, who carried it and picked out Ozil on the left. He squared for Walcott to shoot and Pantilimon was unsighted by Deminchelis, leaving the ball to bobble into the far corner of the net.

It took eight minutes for the Blues to be back in front – and Toure was redeemed for his mistake. He played a sublime ball wide to Zabaleta, whose first touch gave him time to cross into the centre. Negredo was arriving the wrong side of Koscielny to slot it underneath the goalkeeper. The defender was injured in challenging and that was the end of his game.

Toure shows his power.

Toure shows his power.

The second half showed no signs of slowing the tempo: It started when Kompany found himself as the furthest man forward and took it upon himself to take on the Arsenal team. He tried to pick out Negredo as he worked it to the left flank, but his pass was short.

There was then a blow for the home side as Aguero was forced to leave the play injured. On came Navas and City doubled their advantage through an unlikely source. Fernandinho raced onto a loose ball in midfield and bent an effort around Szczesny and into the bottom corner. It was a beauty to open his account.

But it was at this point where the visitors stepped up to the next level and began to blitz the City goal. First Giroud should have equalised, but somehow missed the target on a low cross at the back post, skewing his effort high and wide, before the French striker headed wide when he was unmarked in the middle.

There was a shout for a penalty for the visitors on the hour mark, as the ball deflected off Zabaleta’s chest and onto his arm, but there was nothing doing from the referee. The Arsenal players were furious.

The Gunners reduced the arrears shortly after. The winger picked the ball up on the edge of the box and bent it both over and around Pantilimon, who was left flapping at thin air, as the shot hit the net. It came as the visitors were having their best spell and, at 3-2, they would have fancied their chances.

That is until Silva restored the hosts’ two goal lead a mere four minutes later. Navas wriggled free on the right flank and played a low, driven cross into the middle, where his compatriot was arrived to glide it home, over Szczesny.

With just over 20 minutes to play, Pantilimon preserved that two goal cushion with a cracking save from a Wilshere shot from range. The midfielder belted it towards the top corner, but the Romanian was up quickly to touch it over the bar.

Navas came close to increasing City’s lead after stealing the ball back from Monreal and playing a neat one-two with Nasri to set himself through on goal. He rounded Szczesny, but the angle was too wide and his shot only hit the side netting. Toure then blazed wide after one of his trademark runs, before the Ivorian rose highest at a corner, but could only head over the bar.

Fernandinho’s second City goal came two minutes before stoppage time. He won the ball back in the centre of midfield, before setting Nasri through. The Brazilian continued his run into the box and got the ball back from the Frenchman, before skipping the challenge and dinking it over Szczesny, who had gone to ground. It was cool and calm, and it flicked the post as it crossed the line.

As stoppage time was coming to a close, the visitors pulled another goal back – though now only a consolation. Mertesacker was left unmarked inside the six-yard box and he nodded straight past Pantilimon from a cross from the right. It could have been 5-3 earlier, with Bendtner nodding in from an offside position – it was ruled out, but City didn’t heed the warning.

The final say of the day, though, went to Toure. With many fans expecting the final whistle to come, Milner was slotted through on the left and, as he skipped past Szczesny, the goalkeeper brought him down. Toure stepped up and sent the Polish shot-stopper the wrong way, giving the Blues a three goal lead with seconds left on the clock.

City close the gap on the league leaders and provide possibly the best game of the season so far.

Arsenal 0 Manchester City 2

FA Premier League
Sunday 13 January 2013, 16.00 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Nastasic, Clichy, Barry, Milner, Garcia, Silva (Kolarov 90), Dzeko (Balotelli 89), Tevez (Lescott 77)
Unused: Pantilimon, Rekik, Sinclair, Suarez
Goals: Milner (21), Dzeko (32)
Booked: Milner, Clichy, Garcia, Barry
Sent Off: Kompany

Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the Match: James Milner

Arsenal1The early pressure was from the visitors: City kept possession well in the Arsenal half and earned the game’s first corner. It bounced through the home side’s box and could have come for Kompany or Dzeko to shoot, but neither could get hold of the ball. A short backpass from Nastasic was almost punished by Walcott, before Dzeko was nearly played in by Milner, but the pass was too long. Vermaelen was then out quickly to block Silva’s effort over the bar.

With eight minutes played, City were awarded a penalty to much confusion on the pitch. Koscielny had his arms wrapped around Dzeko and pulled him down. He was sent off and Dzeko took the spot kick, but missed: Szczesny saved it onto the post and it rolled along the goalline for him to pick up on the rebound. The penalty decision was spot on, but the penalty itself was awful.

From a cross on the right flank, Kompany was able to flick a header towards the back post. Szczesny left it and it almost bounced for Tevez to knock it over the line, but the Argentine couldn’t stretch enough to connect. A poor punch from Hart left Walcott with the chance to shoot from the edge of the box, but it was skewed well wide.

On 20 minutes, Silva played a neat ball through to Tevez on the edge of the box. The Argentine found Dzeko breaking into the area and the Bosnian’s first time shot was sliced well wide. But then, moments later, Garcia was felled on the edge of the box and a short free kick was tapped to Tevez. He found Milner and the midfielder turned and shot, hitting the back of the net via the post.

Five minutes on, Silva intercepted a short pass on the edge of the box and broke for the by-line. He played a one-two with Milner before finding Tevez in the middle. His snapshot volley, though, was straight at Szczesny, who was able to gather the effort at the second attempt. Silva himself then had a second deflected effort, before Garcia headed wide from a free header. He should have scored.

Just after the half hour, Dzeko made up for his penalty miss: Zabaleta did brilliantly to win the ball in a 50-50 with Podolski and lay the ball on to Milner. He played a fantastic ball across the box for Tevez to shoot. Szczesny saved, but parried to the feet of Dzeko, who found the net with a open goal. City were looking very, very dangerous.

Arsenal had an isolated attack moments later. A neat move on the right allowed Podolski the chance to break into the box and fire a first time shot at Hart’s goal, but it was straight at the goalkeeper and he held it well. Diaby managed to turn Zabaleta on the right wing, after the blues had defended a free kick well, but the Arsenal man’s effort was well over.

Arsenal2With two minutes to go to half time, Wilshere saved Arsenal’s blushes as he got up well to clear off the line. Milner’s corner wasn’t met properly by the midfielder, but his header off his shoulder was dropping into the top corner, until the Arsenal man nodded it away. City were well in control at the break.

Three minutes into the second half and the blues had another great chance to add their third. Milner was onside from Silva’s lay-off and crossed to the back post. Dzeko, after winning back possession in the middle, burst into the box and climbed above Vermaelen, but couldn’t keep his header down. Arsenal tried to respond immediately: A deflected cross from the right fell to Gibbs on the edge of the box, but his effort was superbly blocked by Nastasic.

Just after the hour mark, Tevez and Dzeko linked up well to create another chance. The Argentine picked up a loose ball in the middle of the Arsenal half and fed it through for the Bosnian’s run. He tried to return it, but it was just too far ahead of his strike partner. Silva was almost in seconds later, before Dzeko’s effort was blocked and Barry’s was deflected to Szczesny.

A breakaway from the visitors on 69 minutes should have had the blues their third. Dzeko was first to it on the left flank and he played Tevez clean through on goal. Face to face with Szczesny, he tried to go around the goalkeeper, but it was a good save that kept the striker from finding the net. He had the chance to pull the trigger earlier, but chose not to.

Two minutes later, the hosts should have pulled one back. Giroud found acres of space inside the City six yard box from a free kick on the right flank and he was picked out by the cross. Fortunately for the visitors, though, the header was high and wide, with Hart left rooted to the spot.

With fifteen minutes to play the referee made an awful decision: Kompany was shown a straight red card for a perfect tackle – he won the ball. Suddenly, it was ten against ten. The free kick into the box, though, was well cleared by City, who were fuming about the decision.

As the clock ticked to stoppage time, Walcott was played through on goal and managed to get his shot away, straight past Hart. City, though, had Lescott on the line to clear, leaving the ball to rebound back off the Arsenal forward and behind for a goal kick. Arsenal were piling on the pressure for the final moments.

City, though, were able to ride the pressure and see out their first win away at Arsenal since 1975.

Manchester City 1 Arsenal 1

FA Premier League
Sunday 23 September 2012, 16.00 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Lescott, Clichy, Garcia, Y Toure, Silva, Sinclair (Rodwell 45), Dzeko (Tevez 68), Aguero (Balotelli 85)
Unused: Pantilimon, Nastasic, Kolarov, Barry
Goals: Lescott (40)
Booked: Garcia

Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the Match: Edin Dzeko

It was the visitors who got to grips of the game much quicker than the hosts and, indeed, it was they who had the better of the opening exchanges, while City struggled to keep possession, let alone create any clear cut chances. They did, however, manage to stifle Arsenal and keep a lid on the game, even if unspectacular. It was Aguero with the first effort of the match, but Manone was equal to it.

Just after the quarter-hour mark, it should have been Arsenal who were in front. Clichy couldn’t cut out a ball through to Gervinho and it left the visiting front man on a one-on-one with Joe Hart. Fortunately for the blues, his first touch was awful and the ball skipped through to the goalkeeper. It was a let off for City.

Next up, it was Podolski who missed a sitter. A through ball by Arteta seemed easy for Lescott to clear ahead of Jenkinson, but the central defender didn’t get a touch on the ball and the visiting full-back stole in behind the home side’s defence. He squared for Podolski on the corner of the box and, with a clear line of sight to goal, somehow put the ball into the North Stand, rather than the back of the net.

A brilliant tackle from Clichy denied Gervinho the chance to shoot inside the six-yard box after City had cheaply given possession back to their visitors. Santi Cazorla found the striker, but it was the former Gunner and City left back who nicked the ball away before the shot could come in.

Despite being on the back foot, though, it was City who went in front, five minutes before half time. Gibbs flicked a Clichy cross behind under no pressure and the resulting flag kick found Lescott in the box. He rose higher than Manone and nodded the ball into the top corner, over Arteta on the line and the home side were in front. It was against the run of play.

It could have immediately been two for City, though. Aguero broke down the left flank and squared to Dzeko, who was unmarked on the edge of the box. He took the effort on first time on his left foot and it took a fingertip from Manone to touch the ball over the bar.

Early in the second half, it looked like a completely different City had come out of the dressing rooms. Dzeko won a free kick on the right flank and Silva curled it into the box. It was flicked away by an Arsenal head, where Aguero picked up the loose ball. He fired in a shot at goal – well wide – when perhaps the pull-back was the better option.

Ten minutes into the half, Silva played Aguero through into the box and he had the chance to shoot. He appeared to be fouled by Koscielny as he broke into the area, but the forward kept his feet and managed a shot, but he was off balance. It probably should have been a penalty to the hosts, but they had to make do with a corner. Garcia had a header at goal, but it was straight at Manone.

With ten minutes to go, Yaya Toure burst out of defence and began for the Arsenal box. It was the first time he’d been able to get one of his trademark runs going and, with options either side of him, he delayed the pass too long and Aguero’s effort was touched behind by Manone. It should have been City’s second and the punishment for the home side not taking their chances was coming.

Hart made a brilliant save from Santi Cazorla, who smashed the ball at goal from the edge of the box. The City keeper, though, was equal to it, touching it over the bar with two hands. But from that corner, Garcia couldn’t get the ball away and Lescott’s clearing header was weak and straight at Koscielny. He couldn’t control it, but he did react the quickest to smash the ball past Hart to level the scores.

Immediately, City should have been back in front. A corner was cleared to the edge of the Arsenal box where it was nodded back into the area. Kompany, with his back to goal, controlled the ball and executed a neat overhead kick. Manone was equal to it, pushing the ball away, but the rebound ricocheted to Aguero. Inside the six-yard box he should have scored, but his shot rolled wide of the far post.

As stoppage time approached, it should have been Arsenal who won the points – Gervinho found himself with time and space on the edge of the City box and had the opportunity to shoot. But, summing up his performance for the afternoon, he skied the effort and it was another let off for City. Arsenal were probably the better side, but City had gotten away with a point.

 

 

 

Arsenal 1 Manchester City 0

English Premier League
Sunday 8 April 2012, 16.00 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Clichy, Kompany (c), Lescott, Y Toure (Pizarro 17), Barry, Milner, Nasri (Kolarov 79), Aguero (Tevez 84), Balotelli
Unused: Pantilimon, Richards, de Jong, Dzeko
Goals: -
Booked: Y Toure, Balotelli, Milner, Zabaleta
Sent Off: Balotelli

Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the Match: Vincent Kompany

City knew that nothing less than a win was necessary if they had any hope of winning the title this season, having seen United take an eight point lead at the top of the Premier League. They didn’t help themselves early on, with Yaya Toure picking up a yellow card for a pull back after just 90 seconds of the game played. The City defence coped with the resulting free kick, before Hart got up well to punch away a corner.

A Rosicky shot was blocked behind by Lescott, as he was free inside the area and the home side were dominant in the opening ten minutes. Kompany was up well to head away a deep ball into the box and City couldn’t get a foot on the ball.

With 15 minutes played, City were lucky to still be level. A corner was played into the visitors’ area and Van Persie met the ball and looked to have scored. But Vermaelen on the line blocked his own man’s effort, before Rosicky put the rebound over the bar. City hadn’t started and they’d lost Yaya Toure to injury.

Balotelli, lucky to still be on the pitch after the referee had missed a late, high challenge from him on Song, almost got the visitors in front. A corner from the right wing was swung low into the six yard box and he flicked it at goal, but it was blocked on the line and away to safety.

With 35 minutes on the clock, Balotelli was straight past Koscielny and through on goal thanks to a brilliant early ball from Pizarro, but Szczesny was off his line quickly to clear the ball, just before the Italian forward could get to the pass. A brilliant tackle from Kompany then denied Walcott a run on goal, as he was well picked out by the Arsenal goalkeeper with a good throw.

The second half got off to a much slower start than the first, with both sides struggling to create a good chance. On 52 minutes, Clichy fed the ball back to Nasri and the Frenchman curled the ball into the box where Aguero and Zabaleta were waiting. The two City Argentines got in each others’ way and Aguero’s header looped towards goal. It needed Szczesny to tip it over, but it was a much easier save than it should have been.

Clichy did brilliantly well to keep the ball in play on City’s left and he knocked the ball back for Nasri to cross. It was flicked to the back post, where Zabalete took a touch to drive a cross back in. Benayoun, though, did well to block it behind for a corner. Aguero then sliced a shot for a throw-in under pressure. City had started the second half much better than they had played in the first.

Just after the hour mark, there was another let off for City. Song played a great ball into the box from deep and it was met by the forehead of Van Persie. Hart was beaten, left standing, as was Kompany, but the ball rebounded off the post and the visitors were able to get the ball clear.

A City free kick was floated to the back post where Kompany nodded it back into the middle. It was behind Balotelli, who tried an overhead kick to connect to the ball, but he couldn’t send it goalwards. With 20 minutes to go, either side could still win it and it had become a very even game.

Suddenly, it became all Arsenal. Van Persie rightly had a goal ruled out for offside, before a series of shots from the home side were blocked by a combination of Kompany, Zabaleta and Hart. City were struggling to get out of their own box.

With 15 minutes to play, City had yet another let off. Sagna found space on the right flank and played the ball into the box, which needed Hart to touch it away. He then produced a fine save, tipping the ball onto the post and Vermaelen, faced with an open goal, couldn’t force it over the line. Hart got across again, before Lescott blocked from Benayoun and it hit the other post before dribbling clear of the goal.

With four minutes of the game to play, City’s title challenge was all but over. Needing three points to stay in touch of United, Pizarro couldn’t keep the ball in midfield and Arteta picked it up. He carried it forward before unleashing a great strike past Hart and into the bottom corner. It had been coming.

To rub salt into the City wounds, Mario Balotelli was shown his second yellow card of the game for a late challenge on Song in the corner, as the defender cleared the ball. This game was another example of a game this season where United hadn’t won the title, but City lost it. It’s time for City to finish the season strongly and rebuild for next year.