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)
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.