Gunners hold Citizens at Close Quarters
Written By: Robert Halter
Former Red Devils’ Danny Welbeck made his Arsenal debut against an old foe following his £16 million pounds transfer from Manchester United as reigning champions, Manchester City faced the Gunners in a 12.45 kick off mid September at the Emirates Stadium. After a cautious start to the game, Aaron Ramsey wildly swung at the ball in the sixth minute, before City’s Joe Hart was tested for the first time a minute later but comfortably collected a shot by Alexis Sanchez. The Gunners kept up the momentum moments later, as Jack Wilshere’s in swinging ball had to be punched clear by Hart. On eleven minutes, Mesut Ozil supplied Welbeck on the left side of the area, but the Gunners new recruit put the ball past the left post but within a minute, Welbeck was denied by the inside of the far post with a delicate chip that cannoned off the woodwork, as Welbeck latched onto a poor back pass from David Silva. The Citizens threatened on twenty five minutes when Sergio Aguero put the ball on a plate for James Milner, who thrashed his shot over as Mathieu Debuchy held fort for Arsenal. But two minutes later City were on the score sheet when Jesus Navas broke down the right wing, whose low cross was tucked away by Aguero past a stranded Wojciech Szczesny, as Aguero got goal side of Mathieu Flamini. On thirty two minutes, City should have increased their advantage when Pablo Zabaleta pulled the ball back for Silva, and it took a vital save by Szczesny with his outstretched right leg to deflect away Silva’s low drive. Five minutes later, Sanchez wasted a free kick having been fouled by Navas, as the Gunners looked to get back in the game. At half time, Frank Lampard’s City debut ended as former Arsenal midfielder, Samir Nasri, took over. Three minutes into the re-start, a sliding tackle by Zabaleta saved City conceding from the advancing Welbeck, who was unable to connect to a low Sanchez cross. On fifty nine minutes, a Silva ball over the top, set former Gunners defender, Gael Clichy free but he dinked his shot wide of the right post, to let Arsenal off the hook. Finally Arsenal found a route back into the game on sixty three minutes, as Ramsey’s pass split open the City defence and Wilshere broke through, who with a crafted shot lofted the ball over Hart, into the far side of the net. Arsenal had their tails up, as Ozil squared the ball to Debuchy, but he sprayed the ball wide. The Citizens reacted by changing Aguero for Edin Dzeko. In the seventieth minute, Martin Demichelis had to be alert to protect Hart and snuff out a Welbeck attack. But a wonder strike by Sanchez on the volley rocketed into the roof of the City net to put Arsenal ahead in the seventy fourth minute, after Ramsey’s cross was put into the path of Wilshere by an error from City captain, Vincent Kompany, before Wilshere’s header made the goal, as Sanchez ripped off his shirt to celebrate his lethal finish. When Wilshere skidded into the turf to a ball over the top by Ramsey, it was time for City’s final change as Fernandinho made way for Aleksandar Kolarov. But the Gunners were dealt a blow, when Debuchy turned his foot over and after being taken off on a stretcher, Calum Chambers took over. But there was another twist in the game, when from a Kolarov corner, Demichelis rose in the air to send a soaring header past Szczesny’s leap, who could only turn the ball into the goal, off the inside of the right post, in the eighty third minute. After Welbeck sent a curling strike wide of the target, he was replaced by Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain. But City could have won the game near the end, as Szczesny was beaten at his near post, when the ball cannoned against the left woodwork from a fierce strike by Kolarov. Again Arsenal had a reprieve in stoppage time, when Silva’s looping ball was turned against his own right post by Laurent Koscielny, whose outstretched leg prevented Dzeko from scoring. Before the final whistle, Nasri had a goal ruled out for offside before Mikel Arteta made a brief appearance for Flamini, as the points were shared in a 2-2 draw.