City slip ends Gunners Blip
Written By: Robert Halter
Buoyed by a 3-0 midweek win over local rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford, Manchester City were targeting a title challenging campaign while Arsenal looked out of the race for the championship having dropped points at home to Swansea City in a 2-2 draw but with Champions League qualification still at stake there was a lot to play for in the eagerly anticipated contest between the Gunners and Citizens at the Emirates Stadium, end of March. On three minutes, a run down the right wing by Pablo Zabaleta saw the ball cannon off Gunners captain, Thomas Vermaelen, before a curling strike by Jesus Navas, turned past the top left side of the upright. In the twelfth minute, referee Mike Dean waved away an Arsenal penalty appeal when Tomas Rosicky took a lunging dive while challenged by Zabaleta in the area. But it was the Citizens which found the back of the net first in the eighteenth minute, when Lukas Podolski lost possession in his own half to Navas, who supplied Yaya Toure, who surged forward and set David Silva free in the centre of the field and as Silva exchanged passes with Eden Dzeko, a cleanly struck shot by Dzeko bounced off the bottom right post, before the ball was tumbled in by Silva from close range. Midway through the first half, Mathieu Flamini had a goal ruled out for offside against Olivier Giroud as Podolski’s ball over the top bobbled off Flamini before the flag went up. On the half hour mark, Samir Nasri’s low daisy cutter was mowed down by Wojciech Szczesny, as the Gunners keeper clasped hold of the ball. Seven minutes into the second half, Navas’s right wing cross was spilled by Szczesny and nearly turned into his own net by Per Mertesacker. But within a minute, the Gunners broke forward as Santi Cazorla’s effort from outside the area cannoned off Joe Hart’s legs. Suddenly, Arsenal had their hopes lifted and on fifty four minutes, route one got them back in the game as Podolski put the ball in from the left flank and with the outside of his in step, a piece of artistry from Flamini, caressed the ball into the left area of the onion bag with a touch of French polish in the finish. On just over the hour mark as Cazorla created the opening, the faintest of touches by Hart prevented Podolski from scoring as the German was fractions away from putting Arsenal in front, as the ball flew behind off the inside of Hart’s leg. On sixty four minutes, a piece of sheer class from Fernandinho produced an acrobatic tip over by Szczesny, as Fernandinho let loose with a thunderbolt from distance, after a half hearted clearance from Rosicky was nearly punished. Although, the Gunners responded within a minute as Mikel Arteta opened the door for Flamini but his shot curled past the crossbar. The first change was made by City as Navas was replaced by James Milner. Desperate defending by Arsenal kept the Citizens at bay on seventy five minutes as Toure could not find the right angle to beat Szczesny, who held his ground and Dzeko was then kept out with the follow up after a vital intervention from Arteta. For the remainder of the game, the Gunners brought on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Podolski before City’s Nasri made way for Javi Garcia, to a ring of boos by the Arsenal fans due to his change of allegiances while the Citizens also played their final card as Alvaro Negredo replaced Dzeko before the Gunners took off Giroud for Yaya Sanogo. On the stroke of full time a Kieran Gibbs cross from the left side just eluded Oxlade-Chamberlain and as Fernandinho replied up field by blasting the ball over in stoppage time, neither team could be divided and the spoils were shared to keep Arsenal in the chase for European football next season while Manchester City dropped two points in their quest to be champions of England.