With Manchester United dispatching Liverpool and extending the gap to 10 points, City had to get a result to keep pace in the title race. With this fixture having produced four red cards on each of the last five occasions, history was bound to repeat itself. And it happened within 10 minutes, as Laurent Koscielny appeared to wrestle Edin Dzeko to the ground. Mike Dean had no hesitation in whipping out a straight red card, sending Koscielny for an early shower and the Frenchman could have no qualms with that decision. The burly Bosnian stepped up to take the resulting penalty, hitting it straight down the middle and Wojciech Szczesny saved with his feet. City’s goal-scoring prospects were looking rather ominous given they had failed to score in each of their last five Premier League visits to the Emirates Stadium. But their fears were quickly dispelled minutes later. Arsenal were caught napping when Gareth Barry took a free kick quickly. He passed to David Silva, who found Carlos Tevez. The Argentinian played in James Milner with a glorious ball and the Englishman made no mistake in lashing home. It was an absolute belter. The Champions went on to boss proceedings and Arsenal offered little in terms of attacking intent and meaningful passing. The home support was livid – rightly so in some cases – at the lack of decisions going their way but they soon found their side falling further behind. City methodically dismantled Arsenal in a move that saw Dzeko score a tap in from two yards out to put the visitors in firm control of the match.
With The Gunners effectively pressing the self-destruct button, they needed to get a foothold in the game and they tried hard as Lukas Podolski flew down the wings and combined well with Abou Diaby – but the German’s crisp shot was saved comfortably. Half-time was a welcome respite for the home team and the fans made their feelings clear towards referee Dean. To be fair to the home supporters, they had a case seeing as Jack Wilshere was continually felled throughout the ill-tempered match. Arsenal started the second half on a more positive note and they had a shout for handball after Bacary Sagna’s cross – but clearly,more attacking intent was required. Oliver Giroud replaced Podolski just shy of the hour mark with Wenger seemingly opting for a more direct approach. The match threatened to reach breaking point when Wilshere was floored yet again and Thomas Vermaelen remonstrated with the referee. And the game finally boiled over when Vincent Kompany was sent off after sliding into Jack Wilshere with a two-footed tackle. It was a poor challenge and seen as a harsh dismissal by some quarters – but it was aggressive. The home side tried hard to press on and get a goal but it was just not their day and City recorded an impressive win away at Arsenal for the first time since 1975.
Arsenal currently lie six points adrift of Tottenham and are in real danger of surrendering their omnipresence in Europe’s elite club competition under Arsène Wenger. With the departure of top talent over the last few seasons, Arsenal must splash the cash to bring in experience and world-class talent to keep up with their rivals. Manchester City did well without the dynamic duo of Sergio Aguero and Yaya Touré. Invariably, Wenger will come in for criticism and people will question his decision to play Abou Diaby, whose three-month absence due to injury was evident.
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