Arsenal began the game from where they left off against Stoke city. Arsenal played a high intensity game against a better team in terms of quality. Stoke were nasty and there were some high intense tackles flew around, but the match against Manchester city was more about the technical quality of Arsenal team, they combined it with their energy. It was clearly evident from the starting line up and the way Arsenal started the match that Arsenal badly wanted a win just like they did against Stoke city FC.
Arsenal record against top four teams were really embarrassing. Although Arsenal started this season with a win against MCFC 3-0 in the Community Shield, but lost 2-0 lead in the EPL match at Emirates and ended the game at 2-2. Arsenal had lot at stake but Abu Dhabi club has the danger of drifting away from their Russian rivals in the EPL race. Weekend football results were least favorable for Arsenal. Every possible result went against Arsenal.
Surprisingly Arsenal started a team identical to that of team that started against Stoke. Bellerin replaced the injured Debuchy and Aaron Ramsey replaced Thomas Rosicky in the starting line up. Thankfully there was no Flamini in the starting line up. Coquelin and Ospina deservedly kept their place in the starting line up. Arsenal has wealth of midfielder in their squad but it was always puzzling when they start the match with Flamini and Arteta.
Koscielny picked up an early yellow but Arsenal started the match brightly. Arsenal Midfield was full of energy and played a high intensity game. Arsenal team took the fight to Etihad. There was no holding back. Sanchez was threatening, Giroud came close but he could not make it count. The neat passing between Sanchez, Ramsey, Monreal and Giroud made Vincent Kompany to make his usual rugy tackle on Nacho. Manuel pellegini thought it was a dive in his post match interview. WTF Manuel, it was a stone wall penalty, but with Arsenal’s luck with referee decisions fans were surprised that the referee gave us the penalty. Santi stepped up and scored. The joyful Arsenal fans had to go through some nervous moments during the final few minutes of the first half. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was clearly not in the level of Ramsey, Santi, Coquelin and sanchez, he kept losing the ball putting the team under pressure.
History suggest that Arsenal fans can never rest, even when they were leading 4-0 at the end of first half, but this team was not nervous, they continued their dominance. Man City made some changes replacing the underrated James Milner. The Ox was replaced as expected. Though he had his moments but kept losing the balls putting the team under pressure. Hard working Sanchez was fouled by Jovetic. Awesome Santi stepped up again to deliver the dead ball into the box. Man city were known for their defense, but there was some chaos in organizing the defense for the free kick, Giroud took full advantage of it and headed the ball in. The goal made the fans go wild, but his celebrations would have made the day for the ladies. Kompany stayed on the pitch in spite of his tackle on Alexis. Flamini could have made it 3-0, but at the end it was a good win for Arsenal with a clean sheet.
The players were really knackered. Ramsey was visibly tired at 85th minute. Everyone’s hard work paid off.
Man of the Match : Santi Cazorla. He did everything in style.
Flop of the Match : Alex oxlade-Chamberlain
It was not a good day for Ox. Bellerin and Ospina played well. The attacking threat of Bellerin will increase in multiple folds when Arsenal players starts to trust him little more. Coquelin was a real leader on the pitch. He continued his fine form and he is going to keep his place in the starting line up. His passion and awareness was really good. The 23 year old was instructing, shouting, tackling, intercepting but most importantly kept his cool.
Well done lads.