Barclay’s Premier League
Wednesday 5 January 2011, 19.45 KO
City: Hart, Richards, Zabaleta, Kompany, K Touré, de Jong, Barry, Milner, Y Touré, Jo (A Johnson 65), Tevez (c) (Boateng 90+4)
Unused: Given, Bridge, Lescott, Wright-Phillips, Vieira
Booked: de Jong, Barry
Sent Off: Zabaleta
Referee: Michael Jones
Man of the Match: Vincent Kompany
City went to the Emirates without a victory away to Arsenal since 1975, knowing that a victory would send them back level on points at the top of the league, but, equally, a defeat would see them slip below the hosts. With this in mind and a good Christmas period behind them, the visitors came away with the point they wanted.
It could have all gone wrong for the visitors with just 90 seconds played, as van Persie was almost left with an open goal from a square pass by Wilshire, who could have shot instead, but, thankfully for City, it rolled past the Dutchman.
Milner responded immediately for City, but as he got to the box he couldn’t make up his mind whether to shoot or cross and, in the end, he did neither, sending the ball well wide of the far post.
Hart was then right behind a Wilshire shot and Kolo Touré put in two excellent tackles to deny the home side getting a shot in at goal, as the game approached just the five minute mark. Three minutes later, van Persie struck the foot of the post as Hart was unsighted and Arsenal were piling on the pressure.
But City were holding strong: Hart got down well to deny Wilshire, van Persie skied a free kick and Zabaleta was in the thick of the action with several great tackles on Walcott. Walcott then slide a great chance wide of the post, after he turned in the box.
Fabianski had to clear to stop Richards getting to the ball first, before a City corner came to nothing as Tevez miss-hit his return ball when free at the back post. The breakaway, though, saw Arsenal hit the post twice – first van Persie crashed one past Hart, and the rebound fell to Walcott, who did the same, though from an offside position.
With 33 minutes played, Jo chipped a ball for Tevez to chase, but the bounce took him wide and, with very little support in the centre, the Argentinean opted to volley at goal and it was just over the bar.
Arsenal then wanted a penalty as a Walcott cross hit Kompany on the arm, but it would have been harsh had it been given, before Hart was right behind a van Persie effort from the edge of the box.
The second half started much the way the first ended, with the home side on the attack and the visitors holding on somewhat – though the pace of the Arsenal attack had slowed. Van Persie shot wide, before it took a world class save from Hart to keep the scores level. Van Persie had an attempt from outside the box and it was destined for the top corner, before the England international’s fingertip intervention.
Richards headed wide from a City corner in one of the visitors’ isolated chances, before pinball in the City box ended with the away side winning a goal kick. Song then went on a mazy run through the City defence that ended in a poor pass.
Arsenal continued to press for the final ten minutes, without really carving out any clear cut chances, save for a free kick from 30 yards that Hart needed to push away. But the game ended on a sour note for both teams.
Zabaleta ran the ball out of play and Sagna wasn’t happy with the City man’s defending. The Arsenal man pushed his head into Zabaleta’s twice, before the Argentinean full back pushed him in the chest and both players saw red, harshly.
City were able to see out the final moments and it was another clean sheet to add to the growing collection. It wasn’t a good offensive performance, but City were strong at the back and it was a point well earned, despite the Arsenal fans’ disappointment.