FA Premier League
Sunday 13 January 2013, 16.00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Nastasic, Clichy, Barry, Milner, Garcia, Silva (Kolarov 90), Dzeko (Balotelli 89), Tevez (Lescott 77)
Unused: Pantilimon, Rekik, Sinclair, Suarez
Goals: Milner (21), Dzeko (32)
Booked: Milner, Clichy, Garcia, Barry
Sent Off: Kompany
Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the Match: James Milner
The early pressure was from the visitors: City kept possession well in the Arsenal half and earned the game’s first corner. It bounced through the home side’s box and could have come for Kompany or Dzeko to shoot, but neither could get hold of the ball. A short backpass from Nastasic was almost punished by Walcott, before Dzeko was nearly played in by Milner, but the pass was too long. Vermaelen was then out quickly to block Silva’s effort over the bar.
With eight minutes played, City were awarded a penalty to much confusion on the pitch. Koscielny had his arms wrapped around Dzeko and pulled him down. He was sent off and Dzeko took the spot kick, but missed: Szczesny saved it onto the post and it rolled along the goalline for him to pick up on the rebound. The penalty decision was spot on, but the penalty itself was awful.
From a cross on the right flank, Kompany was able to flick a header towards the back post. Szczesny left it and it almost bounced for Tevez to knock it over the line, but the Argentine couldn’t stretch enough to connect. A poor punch from Hart left Walcott with the chance to shoot from the edge of the box, but it was skewed well wide.
On 20 minutes, Silva played a neat ball through to Tevez on the edge of the box. The Argentine found Dzeko breaking into the area and the Bosnian’s first time shot was sliced well wide. But then, moments later, Garcia was felled on the edge of the box and a short free kick was tapped to Tevez. He found Milner and the midfielder turned and shot, hitting the back of the net via the post.
Five minutes on, Silva intercepted a short pass on the edge of the box and broke for the by-line. He played a one-two with Milner before finding Tevez in the middle. His snapshot volley, though, was straight at Szczesny, who was able to gather the effort at the second attempt. Silva himself then had a second deflected effort, before Garcia headed wide from a free header. He should have scored.
Just after the half hour, Dzeko made up for his penalty miss: Zabaleta did brilliantly to win the ball in a 50-50 with Podolski and lay the ball on to Milner. He played a fantastic ball across the box for Tevez to shoot. Szczesny saved, but parried to the feet of Dzeko, who found the net with a open goal. City were looking very, very dangerous.
Arsenal had an isolated attack moments later. A neat move on the right allowed Podolski the chance to break into the box and fire a first time shot at Hart’s goal, but it was straight at the goalkeeper and he held it well. Diaby managed to turn Zabaleta on the right wing, after the blues had defended a free kick well, but the Arsenal man’s effort was well over.
With two minutes to go to half time, Wilshere saved Arsenal’s blushes as he got up well to clear off the line. Milner’s corner wasn’t met properly by the midfielder, but his header off his shoulder was dropping into the top corner, until the Arsenal man nodded it away. City were well in control at the break.
Three minutes into the second half and the blues had another great chance to add their third. Milner was onside from Silva’s lay-off and crossed to the back post. Dzeko, after winning back possession in the middle, burst into the box and climbed above Vermaelen, but couldn’t keep his header down. Arsenal tried to respond immediately: A deflected cross from the right fell to Gibbs on the edge of the box, but his effort was superbly blocked by Nastasic.
Just after the hour mark, Tevez and Dzeko linked up well to create another chance. The Argentine picked up a loose ball in the middle of the Arsenal half and fed it through for the Bosnian’s run. He tried to return it, but it was just too far ahead of his strike partner. Silva was almost in seconds later, before Dzeko’s effort was blocked and Barry’s was deflected to Szczesny.
A breakaway from the visitors on 69 minutes should have had the blues their third. Dzeko was first to it on the left flank and he played Tevez clean through on goal. Face to face with Szczesny, he tried to go around the goalkeeper, but it was a good save that kept the striker from finding the net. He had the chance to pull the trigger earlier, but chose not to.
Two minutes later, the hosts should have pulled one back. Giroud found acres of space inside the City six yard box from a free kick on the right flank and he was picked out by the cross. Fortunately for the visitors, though, the header was high and wide, with Hart left rooted to the spot.
With fifteen minutes to play the referee made an awful decision: Kompany was shown a straight red card for a perfect tackle – he won the ball. Suddenly, it was ten against ten. The free kick into the box, though, was well cleared by City, who were fuming about the decision.
As the clock ticked to stoppage time, Walcott was played through on goal and managed to get his shot away, straight past Hart. City, though, had Lescott on the line to clear, leaving the ball to rebound back off the Arsenal forward and behind for a goal kick. Arsenal were piling on the pressure for the final moments.
City, though, were able to ride the pressure and see out their first win away at Arsenal since 1975.