Liverpool 3 Manchester City 2

FA Premier League
Sunday 13 April 2014, 13.37 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Clichy, Toure (Garcia 19), Fernandinho, Navas (Milner 50), Nasri, Silva, Dzeko (Aguero 68)
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Negredo, Kolarov
Goals: Silva (57), Johnson (og 62)
Booked: Garcia, Fernandinho, Zabaleta

Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Man of the Match: James Milner

Hart organises his defence.

Hart organises his defence.

The afternoon at Anfield kicked off seven minutes late as a mark of respect for the 96 fans who lost their lives at Hillsborough in 1989 – and the minutes’ silence was well observed by both sets of player and fans. It was a fitting tribute for the 25th anniversary of the disaster.

The visitors were behind early on and it was the hosts who had put them under pressure from the off. Suarez played a neat through-ball for Sterling to run in behind Kompany and, facing Hart on a one-on-one, side-stepped past the goalkeeper and slotted it into the net. City couldn’t have asked for a worse start.

It was almost two after 15 minutes, as Clichy was too easily beaten by Sterling on the right flank and the youngster whipped in a cross behind the City back four. Kompany couldn’t reach it and Sturridge – free in the middle – side-footed it wide. He was stretching, but should have done better. It did get worse for the Blues, though, as Toure had to leave the pitch injured.

Gerrard should have doubled Liverpool’s lead – and he had done everything but beat Hart, who produced a brilliant reaction save to touch the free header over the bar. But from the resulting corner, Skrtel escaped Kompany and flicked the ball into the net. City had a mountain to climb.

City were denied a penalty on the half hour when Dzeko was brought down by Sahko, but the referee decided there was no foul, as the Bosnian over-egged his fall. It was a poor call from the official. Coutinho should have made it three from a breakaway, but he dragged his shot wide.

Mignolet was then bailed out by Johnson, as he came for the cross and missed it, with Dzeko heading towards the empty goal – the full back nodded off the line and it looped up onto the bar. As City broke back again after Hart claimed the ball back, Navas crossed for Fernandinho to volley, but the goalkeeper got down well to push it away.

With 52 minutes on the clock, Suarez should have been shown his second yellow. Demichelis dived in on the forward, but missed the ball and missed the man, yet the striker dropped to ground clutching his foot. He’d dived, the referee saw it, but didn’t show the yellow card – instead giving a goal kick. He bottled it.

City dug deep and dragged themselves back into the game. A good series of passes worked the opening on the right flank and Milner – via a one-two with Zabaleta – got in behind to square for Silva. The Spaniard dinked the ball into the net, past the desperate dive of Skrtel, who tried to slide it off the line.

The visitors twice came close to equalising minutes after their goal: First Silva caused trouble in the box as Skrtel miss-kicked a clearance, before the Spaniard drilled a low cross towards Dzeko. The Bosnian, though, couldn’t connect as he threw himself at it.

City did get their equaliser, though, just after the hour mark. Silva and Nasri linked up down the left flank and the Frenchman played the Spaniard in. He drilled it into the box once more and it ricocheted off Johnson and sent Mignolet the wrong way – it followed a great challenge by Zabaleta, who won the ball from Sturridge with a last-gasp tackle in the box.

With 15 minutes to play, City were inches away from getting in front. Aguero rolled Skrtel on the left flank and drove towards the box. Instead of taking the shot on, he played it in for Silva in the middle – the Spaniard had to dive to reach it, but he couldn’t turn it into the net.

Two minutes later, though, City hit self-destruct. The Blues were in control of the game, but a throw-in was miss-kicked by Kompany straight to Coutinho. The Liverpool man hit it first time and curled it around Hart into the bottom corner. City had it all to do again.

In stoppage time, the away side were denied a penalty when Skrtel punched the ball clear, before Henderson over-ran the ball and dived in on Nasri as the Blues tried to break again with possession. The Liverpool man went in with a straight leg and was rightly dismissed, but City felt the red card should have come at the start of the second half, not the end – it came too late to change the game.

Manchester City 4 Southampton 1

FA Premier League
Saturday 5 April 2014, 12.45 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Kolarov, Fernandinho (Garcia 45), Toure, Nasri, Silva (Jovetic 77), Navas, Dzeko (Negredo 65)
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Richards, Milner
Goals: Toure (pen 3), Nasri (45+1), Dzeko (45+4), Jovetic (81)
Booked: Fernandinho, Garcia, Toure

Referee: Chris Foy
Man of the Match: David Silva

Dzeko competes with Lallana for possession.

Dzeko competes with Lallana for possession.

City had to ride their luck at times against a good Southampton side, but the home team did enough to emerge victors ahead of a tough fixture with Liverpool in the title run-in. The Saints will rue the first half stoppage time, where most of the damage was done, when they had a firm grip on the match before it.

It started well for City – who were gifted the chance to open the scoring from the spot. Dzeko went down very easily under the challenge of Fonte. The forward jinked past the defender, whose trailing leg brushed against the Bosnian’s stomach and, when the striker hit the deck, the referee pointed to the spot. Toure did the rest, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.

From there, though, City just did not impose themselves on the match. Nasri had an effort from the edge of the box that dropped just wide, but it was the visitors who had the better of the ball – even though they failed to work Hart. Lambert couldn’t connect to a corner when he rose highest in the box, before the England hopeful curled a free kick wide of Hart’s post.

Rodriguez will fear for his England place following an incident mid-way through the first half, too. The striker tried to bring the ball down just inside the City half and, under no pressure, went down holding his knee – leaving the action early, on a stretcher, to a standing ovation.

Dzeko came close to doubling City’s lead with a free header at the back post, but he nodded Nasri’s free kick onto the bar and over. It could have been a costly miss – as Zabaleta brought down Cork inside the home side’s box moments later and Lamber scored the resulting penalty. Hart guessed correctly, but there was too much power on the spot kick and it hit the back of the net.

As the board went up for stoppage time, though, a below-par City put themselves into an almost unassailable position. First, a stroke of good luck: Silva was clearly offside from Dzeko’s flick, but the linesman didn’t raise his flag. The Spaniard weaved his way through and squared for Nasri to slot into the net.

Dzeko adds City's third goal.

Dzeko adds City’s third goal.

Then, as the fans were readying themselves for a 2-1 lead going into the second half, Dzeko added the Blues’ third. A good spell of possession ended with Kolarov picking up the ball on the left and firing in a good cross for the Bosnian. Gazzaninga came for it, but missed, and Dzeko redirected it over the line, via the back post.

The second half, though, was a completely different story. The introduction of Garcia allowed City to see more possession and they began to look good for their lead – Silva was frustrated the referee didn’t play advantage when he pulled back with one man between him and the goal, before Kolarov had a shot deflected behind for a corner.

On the hour mark, Dzeko should have netted his second. He was played through by Silva and was one-on-one with the goalkeeper. From a tight angle, he forced Gazzaniga into a good save and, despite being on his stronger foot, he couldn’t volley the rebound in – it actually went out for a throw-in.

Quite how Negredo didn’t score is a question City fans will be asking too – first, he was played through by Navas, but chose to check back inside his defender instead of taking on the shot and lost possession, before second, he hit the goalkeeper on a one-on-one on his left foot.

However, the missed chances didn’t matter as, with just under ten minutes to play, the Blues added their fourth: A low cross from the right flank was inches away from Negredo, but the Spaniard couldn’t touch it towards goal. Gazzaniga came, but missed it, and Jovetic was arriving in time to touch it into the goal at the back post.

It was a confident second half from City, though the scoreline was very harsh on the Saints. City in a good vein of form ahead of that huge game at Anfield up next.

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.

Hull City 0 Manchester City 2

FA Premier League
Saturday 15 March 2014, 12.45 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Clichy, Garcia, Fernandinho, Toure (Lescott 71), Nasri (Navas 81), Silva (Kolarov 90), Dzeko
Unused: Pantilimon, Milner, Rodwell, Negredo
Goals: Silva (14), Dzeko (90)
Booked: Zabaleta, Hart
Sent Off: Kompany

Referee: Lee Mason
Man of the Match: Javi Garcia

Nasri takes on Figueroa.

Nasri takes on Figueroa.

City’s hopes of an easy afternoon following a disappointing week were always going to be a pipe dream, with a visit to Hull a potential banana skin to slip on. And it didn’t get off to the best start for the away side, who found themselves a man down after just ten minutes. Kompany was given his marching orders after Jelavic stole the ball and the captain pulled him back when clean through on goal – the Belgian felt he was fouled, but the referee disagreed and sent him to the stands.

But the visitors didn’t let the red card affect them: Four minutes later, they were in the lead. After riding pressure from the hosts, City broke down the other end of their first attack since losing a man. Toure found Silva on the edge of the box and, after cutting back inside onto his left, the Spaniard fired a delightful shot into the corner of the net, leaving McGregor with no chance.

Despite being down a man, it was the Blues who were looking the more likely to score the next goal, too. Hull had dominated possession, but hadn’t been able to test Hart, when Zabaleta unleashed a blistering shot for the top corner. It smashed into the underside of the bar and dropped down onto the line, before bouncing out.

City weren’t happy with the referee shortly after, as he showed Elmohamady a yellow card for a nasty challenge on Silva – with studs showing, he caught the midfielder on the shin – and it could easily have been a red. Hull had the ball in City’s net a moment later, after the Blues made nothing of the free kick, but there was an offside in the build-up and Meyler’s brilliant finish didn’t stand.

Silva opens the scoring.

Silva opens the scoring.

The visitors were playing a very organised game at the back since the red card and that showed early in the second half. Time after time, the Blues held their line well on the edge of the box to catch Hull forwards offside and it helped the away side ease the early pressure.

Long stung Hart’s fingers with an effort from range, before Jelavic tried to turn a low free kick around the corner and into the net, but he couldn’t connect well enough to divert the ball. Huddlestone curled a free kick into the middle, but the goalkeeper was also there to gather.

With 70 minutes on the clock, there was more controversy. Boyd looked to go around Hart and hit the deck as the goalkeeper challenged. There was no touch and the Hull man dived, but wasn’t shown a yellow card by the referee – in the resulting altercation, Hart reacted angrily and, as the two came together, Boyd appeared to spit in the goalkeeper’s face. Somehow, it was only City’s number one who saw yellow.

A minute later, Fernandinho should have doubled City’s lead as a deflected shot fell into his path on the edge of the six-yard box. In on goal, he scuffed his effort wide – and it could have been costly as Jelavic won a header in the visitors’ box, but Hart got up well to collect it.

Three minutes from the end, Dzeko should have sealed victory. Silva played a beautiful pass inside to send the Bosnian clean through on goal – but one-on-one with the goalkeeper, his effort lacked conviction and power, and McGregor blocked well at the striker’s feet.

However, as the clock ticked to 90, Dzeko got a second chance to seal the points and this one he took. Silva was again involved as he played an even better pass to send the striker clear. This time, he passed the ball around the goalkeeper on his left foot, and, with stoppage time approaching, confirmed the victory.

It was a tough afternoon for the Blues, but they coped well – especially played a man down for 80 minutes.

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Manchester City 5

FA Premier League
Wednesday 29 January 2014, 19.45 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Clichy, Toure (Nastasic 64), Fernandinho, Navas, Silva (Kolarov 80), Aguero (Jovetic 45), Dzeko
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Rodwell, Negredo
Goals: Aguero (15), Toure (pen 51), Dzeko (54), Jovetic (78), Kompany (89)
Booked: Toure, Demichelis, Aguero, Zabaleta

Referee: Andre Marriner
Man of the Match: David Silva

Aguero hits the post.

Aguero hits the post.

City were out of the traps quickly, taking the game to their opponents. Just five minutes had been played when the Blues fashioned the first good chance to open the scoring, but Aguero’s shot bounced off the post and out to safety, as he fired across Lloris. Dzeko blazed over after a neat one-two with Aguero, as he shot from the corner of the box.

But with 15 minutes on the clock, the visitors opened the scoring. Aguero has been in terrific goalscoring form this season and there was no change at the Lane. Silva slipped a brilliant through-ball for the Argentine, who beat the offside trap to place it past Lloris.

It took a brilliant save from the Tottenham goalkeeper to keep the score at 1-0. Clichy crossed for Aguero to head and it looked like his effort was destined for the net, but Lloris clawed it out before it crossed the line. The Argentine quickly had another header cleared off the line, before his volley from the rebound was a foot over the bar. City could have had a penalty for a handball by Dawson, too.

Tottenham thought they had equalised with ten minutes of the half to play, but the offside flag was up against Adebayor in the build up. A free kick was crossed into the middle where the Togolese striker jumped to head it, but missed – leaving the centre-back to nod home. He was onside, but his striker was interfering with play in front of him.

On the stroke of half time, the Blues lost Aguero to another injury. The striker pulled up holding his hamstring and his game was over. Demichelis was booked for a seemingly fair challenge on Adebayor, before the centre-back headed harmlessly over at the near post.

Toure battles for possession.

Toure battles for possession.

Early in the second half, the visitors imposed themselves further on the game. Toure had the chance to add the Blues’ second of the night from the penalty spot when Rose was adjudged to have brought down Dzeko. It looked a harsh decision as the full back looked to have timed his tackle well to win the ball, but the linesman waved his flag and Rose was dismissed. Toure sent Lloris the wrong way.

Three minutes later, City added their third. Silva picked up the ball inside the box from a great pull-back by Zabaleta, and, after carrying it across the face of goal, his shot hit the post and bounced out. The deflected rebound fell to Dzeko, who knocked it past Lloris.

Just before the hour mark, the ten men pulled a goal back. A corner was badly defended by the Blues, as Zabaleta missed the ball completely and it fell kindly for Capoue on the edge of the six-yard box. He was never going to miss, blasting his shot past the stranded Hart.

Dzeko could have had two goals in the space of three minutes as two glorious chances to add City’s fourth were spurned by the Bosnian. First, Clichy picked him out with a great cross from deep and the striker’s first touch was perfect for him to hit, but his effort was well wide. Second, Zabaleta picked out the forward after a fine passing move, but Dzeko got his finish all wrong, chipping it wide weakly.

With just over ten minutes to play, the fourth goal came and it was an opening Premier League goal for Jovetic. Silva slid the ball to the Montenegrin on the left flank, where he cut inside and tried to bend a shot around Lloris. It took a nick on the way through, but it didn’t help the home side and it found the bottom corner.

In the closing stages, it was almost five for the Blues, as a brilliant ball slipped Navas in on the right. His low cross was just behind Jovetic and he couldn’t wrap his foot around it to shoot, but it fell to Kolarov. The Serbian belted it, but Lloris was able to block it behind.

Though, in the final minute, the captain added another. A corner fell nicely to Dzeko, who was able to tee himself up to volley at goal. It was blocked ahead of Lloris and fell kindly for Kompany, who was faced with an open goal. He simply stabbed it over the line, despite Lloris’s best efforts to recover.

With Arsenal dropping points the night before, City go to the top of the league.

Fulham 2 Manchester City 4

FA Premier League
Saturday 21 December 2013, 15.00 KO

City: Hart, Clichy, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Kolarov, Nasri (Milner 75), Fernandinho, Toure, Silva (Garcia 84), Dzeko (Navas 58), Negredo
Unused: Pantilimon, Boyata, Rodwell, Guidetti
Goals: Toure (23), Kompany (43), Navas (78), Milner (83)
Booked: Demichelis

Referee: Kevin Friend
Man of the Match: David Silva

Fernandinho holds off Sidwell.

Fernandinho holds off Sidwell.

It was the home side that were off to the better start, as they forced a goalmouth scramble from a corner. Minutes later, Hart pulled off a great save to deny Taarabt, after Clichy had slipped in the build-up. The return ball in was well cleared by Kompany. It sparked City into life and, on the break, Dzeko fed Silva, whose effort crashed back off the crossbar.

The game had been struggling to get any momentum behind it. Hart held onto an effort from Taarabt from range, before Toure smashed a free kick into the net from the edge of the box. All eyes were on Kolarov, but the Ivorian smashed it off the underside of the bar, leaving the goalkeeper standing.

On the half hour, the visitors should have gone two goals up but for a poor decision from Dzeko. Negredo broke with power and pace and found the Bosnian inside the box, but he tried to place his effort instead of sliding Fernandinho in beside him, but Hughes blocked it. From that breakaway, Taarabt had the opportunity to shoot and it needed Hart to push it behind.

Five minutes later, again the Blues should have doubled their lead. Dzeko fed Kolarov on the left and found space in the box for the return pass. There, the striker’s side-footed shot was too close to Stekelenburg and he parried it to safety. A minute later, the Bosnian could only head straight at the keeper as he broke the offside trap.

Another goalmouth scramble followed a great block by Kompany from Taarabt. The resulting corner allowed Fulham to smash the ball into the box and it needed a toe-end from Toure to get it clear, as three different white shirts tried to find room for the shot.

On the stroke of half time, the Blues did double their lead. A free kick from the right flank found Demichelis totally unmarked and the Argentine headed across goal for the far post. Stekelenburg parried and Kompany was on hand to stab the rebound into the roof of the net.

Hart makes an important block.

Hart makes an important block.

A minute into the second half and it could – perhaps should – have been three for the visitors. Some good possession play released Kolarov down the left and he slid the ball back into the middle for Silva. The Spaniard had to stretch to connect and Stekelenburg was just able to grasp the shot.

Despite the good start to the half by City, it was the hosts who pulled a goal back. Silva wasn’t able to skip away from the challenge on the edge of the box and Fulham broke with pace. Taarabt beat Clichy on the right and he drove into the City area to square for Richardson, who had the simple task of touching it into the net.

With 56 minutes played, Fulham should have equalised. A cross from the right beat the whole of the City back line and Sidwell dived in to head it – but it was wide. Had he left it for Taarabt behind, he would surely have scored. There were four Fulham players offside, however the linesman didn’t flag.

On the hour mark, the Blues should have killed the game. Silva superbly picked out Negredo running into the box, but the Spaniard’s effort was blocked. It fell to Navas – just on for Dzeko – but the winger’s shot was well wide from eight yards out. It should have found the net.

It was chance that City would come to regret as a freak goal pulled Fulham level. A miss-hit cross from Riise was skewed into the air by Kompany and it lobbed over his own goalkeeper onto the underside of the bar. Despite the best efforts of Hart and Clichy, it bounced into the net for the equaliser.

The parity didn’t last long though. Despite having fallen off the pace in the second half, City got their noses in front once again – as Navas was set through down the right flank. He powered past the Fulham defence and, from a tight angle, smashed the shot through Stekelenburg’s legs.

Just as Fulham were preparing for a final onslaught, City added their fourth. Silva found Negredo wide on the right and, with the outside of his right foot, he pulled off one of the passes of the season to pick out the run of Milner into the box. The substitute finished with ease, first time.

It killed the game off and secured City’s third Premier League away win of the season.

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.