Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Arsenal Held By Resolute Man City

It was a game looked forward to by many but inevitably failed to deliver as Arsenal were held to a 0-0 draw with rivals Manchester City. City had won five out of their last six and were expected to mount at least some kind of challenge against the Gunners, following their disappointing 3-0 hammering back in October at The City Of Manchester Stadium. Arsenal were looking to close the gap on leaders Manchester United to within three points and were prepared to give it their all. They were outright favourites for the clash following that no contest in Manchester back in October and had showed promise as soon as the match kicked off, taking control of the match however as we've come to find out this season, the resilient Manchester City defence once again held out for a point well earned, confirming their defence was, in fact, the best in the Premier League at the moment. Arsenal will be relatively disappointed with this result considering they dominated for the entire match, but Mancini and City will be delighted as it is a point they rarely looked like retaining throughout the match.

Match Report:

It was notable from the off that City hadn't come to the Emirates tonight for a win. From the moment Arsenal gained possession of the ball, it was going to be a long night for City. The first half couldn't have been more one sided, with Arsenal going agonisingly close early on, a cross from Wilshere just missing the outstretched Van Persie and it was the beginning of a mauling for the Mancunian club. Wilshere was once again involved just two minutes later as his rasping shot stung the hands of City keeper Joe Hart and Arsenal continued to apply pressure on the big spenders. In truth, City had desperately missed play maker David Silva, who's creativity was sorely missed but he most certainly wouldn't have been able to halt the onslaught City were receiving. Throughout the first half Arsenal had taken control of the match and had unluckily hit the frame of the post twice, with Robin Van Persie and Cesc Fabregas going closest to breaking the deadlock.

The second half was no different as Arsenal continued to show their masterclass, leaving Manchester City to die. Carlos Tevez and Yaya Toure seemed to be the only threats to come from the City half, but they were often outnumbered, leaving the two stars isolated. It seemed that the longer Arsenal would remain scoreless City would eventually score as when City did break you'd fear for The Gunners that they'd concede and would end up chasing the game, in desperation of an equaliser.

Joe Hart hadn't really been tested to an extent following Arsenal's demolition of City in the first half but he made a fantastic save in the 61st minute to deny Gunners hit man Robin Van Persie. Hart had shuffled two or three steps before pulling off a top drawer save to keep the scores level, further frustrating The Gunners. After that effort from van Persie, Arsenal never really looked like hitting the back of the net and it was just one of those nights at the Emirates.

In the 90th minute the match took a turn for the worst as the match inevitably ended on a sour note. An awkward challenge on Bacary Sagna by Pablo Zaaeleta angered the Frenchman, and they squared up, looking set to match off but an intervention from Mike Jones saw both of them sent off, with suspensions for three matches for each of them. On replay, it looked like Zabeleta had done nothing wrong as he was victim to frustration of Sagna's behalf and I think there would be an appeal on the cards for the Argentine.

The draw for these two leaves them both a drift of United, and the Red Devils have extended their lead over City to two points with two games in hand over their city rivals. It doesn't do any good for Arsenal either as they once again succumbed to a well organised defence and it leaves them four points behind the table topping United, who have, incredibly, yet to reach top gear this season.

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