Arsenal 1 (Arteta 86) – Manchester City 0
Man of the Match – Mikel Arteta (Arsenal)
The week of misery has finally ended. It was quite a mixed week, after QPR beat Arsenal last week, in a really drab game. However, the team has made up for it, and how. Arsenal secured their 8th win in 9 league games, as they beat title-contenders, or rather title-pretenders, Manchester City, courtesy a late goal from Mikel Arteta.
There were no surprises in the Arsenal starting lineup, as Arsene Wenger decided to drop out of sorts Aaron Ramsey, and started Israel captain Yossi Benayoun, who has been preferred for his experience, in the big games this season.
Manchester City, on the other hand, had some concerns of their own, as David Silva missed out, with a minor knee problem. This meant a rare start for, who else, $amir Ca$hri.
Arsenal had a fine start, in the opening 15 minutes, with Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky running all strings in midfield. Arsenal were mixing it all up, and making it hard for City in the centre of midfield. Rosicky thumped his shot wide. Then, Arsenal should have taken the lead through a header from van Persie, but unfortunately it hit the back of his own teammate, Thomas Vermaelen and onto the post.
However, the game soon started to get ugly. Yaya Toure was injured in a tussle with Alex Song in midfield, and the latter found himself at the receiving end of a Mario Balotelli high boot, for which the Italian should have been sent off. However, the referee probably missed the tackle.
Balotelli got to the end of a Nasri pass, but it was cleared by left back Kieran Gibbs. Nasri then played provider again, as his long ball was almost met by Balotelli, but was eventually cleared by onrushing Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. The game was being played out a frenetic pace with some exciting end to end stuff. Arsenal, clearly were way ahead of the big spending Sky Blues.
The second half started differently however, with Balotelli switching flanks from time to time, and the out of form Aguero playing a more central role up front for Manchester City. Szczesny just about managed to parry away a looping Aguero header.
Arsenal then got a few opportunities of their own. Yossi Benayoun danced his way past City’s defence, but his shot was weak. Then, Alex Song played his trademark long ball through to van Persie, however, the Dutchman’s effort only struck the post.
Then, Laurent Koscielny was booked for a foul on Barry, which means he will miss the clashes against Wolves and Wigan. Off the resulting free kick, Balotelli’s attempted overhead kick proved futile.
Then, Arsenal though they had scored, when van Persie beat Komapny to shoot past Hart, but his effort was deemed offside. The chance of the game arrived, soon after. Walcott’s effort found the post, again. With the goal gaping at his mercy, Vermaelen made a complete hash of his shot, and Benayoun did the same, off the rebound.
However, despite City’s resolve and determination, Arsenal were not to be denied, as Arteta won the ball in midfield, and unleashed a fantastic shot past Joe Hart, to seal three vital points for Arsenal.
In injury time, Balotelli got what he should have gotten much earlier, as his poor foul on Sagna, attracted a second yellow, and marching orders.
Arsenal still had the time to double the lead, but Ramsey scuffed his shot way off target, with the goal right in front of him.
Szczesny (8) – Had little to do, but did it well.
Sagna (8.5) – Bombed forward a lot today. Was helped by Balotelli hardly doing any backtracing. Sent in a horde of crosses.
Vermaelen (8) – A fine performance, after last week’s QPR debacle.
Koscielny (8) – Looked comfortable for most of the evening.
Gibbs (7.5) – Like Sagna, he bombed forward a lot too, and didn’t shun his defensive duties.
Song (8.5) – A rock in the centre of midfield today.
Rosicky (8) – Lively throughout. Made a lot of darting runs.
Arteta (8.5) – Fantastic in midfield, and scored a fine goal, too.
Benayoun (8) – Another good game by him. Deserves more chances, than what he gets.
Walcott (7.5) – Well marshalled by Clichy on the evening. His performance in the second half gradually improved though.
van Persie (8) – Seems to be going through a bad phase, ain’t he? 😉
Santos (7) – Like the commentator rightly said he is still a liability.
Ramsey – have scored the second.
Chamberlain – Came on too late to get a rating.
Overall Team Rating – 7.88