Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Match Report: City 1 - 1 Arsenal

Koscielny's strike gives Arsenal deserved point against the champions

By Aaron Leggott

Laurent Koscielny's first start of the season saw the Frenchman steal two points from the Blues as he struck late on to secure a point for Arsenal.

Despite taking the lead, City looked to be suffering from a Champions League hangover after the defeat in Madrid on Tuesday night, and their efforts showed as Arsenal really should have took all three points.

Koscielny nets on his first start of the season
Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images Europe

Arsenal hoped to have been the first team in almost two years to win at the Etihad Stadium in the league, since David Moyes' men left with a 2-1 victory to give their fans a happy Christmas in 2010.

However, despite numerous chances falling to the Gunners, they weren't able to make their domination pay, and had to travel back to North London with only a share of the spoils.

Roberto Mancini decided to make five changes to the side that were defeated in Madrid, with the biggest change seeing Sergio Aguero making his first appearance since injuring his ankle on the opening day of the season.

And his decision to start last season's top scorer nearly paid off in the 14th minute as Aguero forced Vito Mannone into a fine save, as the Argentinian skipped past Jenkinson before firing at the goal.

But it was the away side who arguably had the better chances in the first half. Gervinho seemed to be pulling the strings as he gave Gael Clichy a tough afternoon, and had his first touch been better in the 20th minute Arsenal could have easily took the lead.

And then it was Lukas Podolski's chance to waste a great opportunity for the Gunners, as in the 25th minute Jenkinson's brilliant work to shrug off Joleon Lescott resulted in the German smashing the ball miles over the bar.

Arsenal, unlike City, were keeping the ball wonderfully throughout the first period and Ramsey's threaded pass into Gervinho saw the Ivorian nearly open the scoring again, but his effort flew inches wide.

Lescott heads home for City
Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images Europe
Arguably, on the balance of play, Arsenal deserved to go in with a half time  lead, but City surprisingly took advantage of Arsenal's sloppy finishing. With five minutes before half time, a cross by David Silva found the powering head of Joleon Lescott, who got to the ball ahead of Mannone in the Arsenal goal.

It was the English defender's first goal since February and it was a vital goal when City were looking vulnerable against a revitalised Arsenal side.

The second half started off slowly, as Arsenal seemed unable to break past City's resilient defence, and the Blues had a penalty shout turned down when Aguero seemed to have been fouled before he released his shot at Mannone. It was certainly a debatable decision that could have been given.

Gervinho, like in the first half, was extremely wasteful as Arsenal pushed for an equaliser, and it was a surprise to see him stay on the pitch when Arsene Wenger made a double substitution, seeing Podolski and Abou Diaby being replaced by Theo Walcott and Giroud respectively.

With Edin Dzeko, who was City's best player by a mile, off for Carlos Tevez, City started to push further back and were looking for a second on the counter attack as Yaya Toure went on one of his trademark runs, pushing past the Gunners before laying off a pass to Aguero, but his shot was pushed past the post once again by Mannone.

City's naivety to sit further back was about to be punished, as with ten minutes remaining, Santi Cazorla forced Joe Hart into an incredible save, as his shot swerved all over the place, nearly catching Hart off guard. And from the resulting corner, Arsenal finally pulled a goal back, as Lescott failed to clear properly from the corner, as his header fell to the feet of Koscielny.

Koscielny, who was making his first start, had the instincts of the strikers as he quickly poked the ball into the back of the net, sending the Arsenal fans behind the goal into raptures.

City nearly regained the lead minutes later as Mannone made a fine save to deny Kompany's overhead kick, before Aguero stroked the ball wide from close range, but the game finished with both teams sharing the spoils.

On reflection, City were extremely fortunate to even come away with a point from this game, and a lot of work is needed to be done if we want to regain our title this year. Arsenal, though, can be very proud of their performance as they deserved a victory against the Champions. The only worry for their fans is if they can actually finish their chances when it matters.

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(c) The Sky Blue View 2012

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