Man City 6 Arsenal 3: Five talking points
Man City 6 Arsenal 3: Five talking points as the Citizens beat the Premier League leaders at The Etihad
Have the leaders just been beaten by the champions?
Arsenal have shown very impressive form at the start of the season but this Manchester City performance had an air of imperiousness which suggests the momentum might be shifting their way in the title race. The Citizens have had mixed success in trying to adapt to new manager Manuel Pellegrini and several expensive summer signings coming in, but it all came together on Saturday. Alvaro Negredo and substitute Jesus Navas were once again lively, David Silva was his usual silky self upon his return from injury, and Vincent Kompany, injured for much of the season, was very assured on the ball. But perhaps the most significant aspect of City’s performance was Fernandinho’s display. The Brazilian was brought in for £30m this summer, but by most accounts has failed to quite live up to that price tag. He has done little wrong (just making the first team is a feat in itself at City), but has failed to add much offensively, especially compared to his buccaneering counterpart Yaya Toure. After Fernandinho’s two superbly taken goals, it was a big surprise the Ivorian took the penalty in the final minute, instead of giving the man-of-the-match a chance for his hat-trick.
Arsenal and City serve up a tennis score
The Gunners have previously been accused of being beaten by a hockey score – Jose Mourinho made the claim following a north London derby in 2004. – but this was a scoreline Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic might produce. And surprisingly so, given the two teams’ strong defensive records going into this game. Arsenal had conceded 11 in their last 15 top-flight games and City had leaked just 12. But while Match of the Day analyst and former Liverpool defender Alan Hansen would have plenty to say on this game, more of the attention should go towards the superb attacking play on offer. It’s a bit of cliche, but it was really was a superb advert for the Premier League.
Etihad remains a fortress
City have now scored a staggering 35 league goals in eight home games this season – an average of over four per game. Before Saturday’s clash at The Etihad, only Romelu Lukaku and Wayne Rooney had scored there, and, technically at least, Hull still have the best record at Eastlands this season, losing 2-0 in August. If their away form was anything similar, they would be storming the league. The Citizens now have 24 wins from 24 home games and just eight victories in 24 away matches. No prizes for guessing what Pelligrini will asking Santa for for Christmas…
Is there still armoury in the Gunners’ arsenal?
Arsenal have now collected just one point from a possible six, albeit against City and a very strong Everton team at The Emirates last Sunday. However, this could turn from a mere blip into something much more serious if there aren’t some strong heads and some clever management from Arsene Wenger, especially given the all-important Christmas period coming up. The Gunners have a nine-day rest until Chelsea at The Emirates, and then a busy period of five games in three weeks, culminating in what should be an interesting north London derby in the third round of FA Cup. The likely absence of Laurent Koscielny, so impressive this season but stretchered off with a suspected knee problem in the 6-3 loss, could prove important. But they would do well to remember they were by no means abject here, especially going forward with Walcott back in the team. They were just outclassed on the day by a superb City side.
Aguero and Negredo – hottest partnership at the moment?
Aguero and Negredo continued their red-hot partnership and now have 33 between them this season, 21 coming in the league. If it wasn’t for Suarez’s extraordinary form, Aguero’s 19 goals in 20 games – 13 from 15 in the league – would be earning him all the headlines at the moment. While they did not link up for their respective goals in the 50 minutes Aguero was on, they both took their goals superbly, particularly the Argentine in anticipating Martin Demichelis’ flick on from a corner and then improvising a scissor kick. It was very telling that Pelligrini, when Aguero went off with what looked like a minor injury, decided to bring on winger Jesus Navas instead of striker Edin Dzeko.