Arsenal left Manchester today with a fully deserved point after a late Laurent Koscielny goal rescued them from the jaws of defeat.
The home side had taken the lead just before half-time when Joleon Lescott turned in a David Silva corner after Vito Mannone came out and missed his punch, but it was Arsenal’s number six who had the last laugh when he smashed home past Joe Hart with just eight minutes to go.
In a game that was dominated by the away side, it was them who had to rescue a point right at the end. Arsenal had plenty of chances in the first half, the best ones falling to Gervinho, who’s first touch was too heavy after being put through one on one from an Aaron Ramsey pass and also Podolski, who smashed over the bar after being picked out by Carl Jenkinson after the right back made a surging run.
In the 40th minute, Kieran Gibbs gave away a pointless corner after heading the ball behind his goal when he was under no pressure at all. Arsenal were then punished when a David Silva cross found Joleon Lescott’s head, who turned it home for 1-0 right before half-time. Arsenal keeper, Vito Mannone, will have to take the blame for the goal as he misjudged the ball completely and was left grasping at thin air.
The second half was very much the same. Arsenal passing the ball around City but not creating many proper chances. All throughout the game, Man City looked very dangerous on the counter, especially with Yaya Toure surging through the Arsenal midfield and back four. Despite all the possession, Arsenal could just not find a way past the City back four, but that was to change in the last ten minutes.
Santi Cazorla, who had another very impressive game at the heart of the Arsenal midfield, was found with plenty of space and then let fly with a bullet that was tipped over the bar by England stopper, Joe Hart.
However, from that resulting corner, after a bit of pinball action in the box, the ball fell to the feet of Laurent Koscielny, who lashed home the equaliser in front of the away fans. The team showed their team spirit when everyone ran over to Koscielny and bundled him in front of the travelling fans.
Right at the death, the champions had a chance to steal all three points, but Kompany’s overhead kick was saved well by Mannone and then Aguero’s shot went just wide of the far post.
Man City manager, Roberto Mancini was visibly annoyed with the result after the game: “This year we have one problem, we don’t close the game and don’t score more goals. We had three or four chances in the second half and didn’t score.
“I am frustrated about the result, because we had a chance to win and we conceded another goal. We need to work harder.
“I am sure Arsenal will fight for the title this year because they have a good team, but it is going to be difficult for everyone, especially with playing in the Champions League.”
It was a happier camp in the away dressing room though and defenders, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker were both very happy about the result and team spirit:
Laurent Koscielny, who scored the Gunners’ equaliser: “I’m very happy for the goal and the club because we did a good game. We made the comeback and we are very happy. Manchester City are champions so it is a good point.”
And his Arsenal team-mate Per Mertesacker was also pleased as punch with a point: “We had to be strong because it was difficult match. We have a great squad. We have a lot of great centre-backs. Thomas Vermaelen is at home as he is not well but Laurent came in and did well. We are a strong squad and have to stick together.”
The Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger, wasn’t getting too carried away after the point though: “We have the potential and attitude [to be at the top],” Wenger said. “Time will tell if we can keep the attention and focus.
“We refuse to lose the game today and came back. We are happy with the team performance but a little frustrated because we had chances with Gervinho when we could have won the game. Gervinho was a danger but he was nervous in his finishing.”
Alex William Batt