Blues held after Arsenal fight back
FA Premier League
Saturday 29 March 2014, 17.30 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Clichy, Toure, Fernandinho, Nasri (Garcia 81), Silva, Navas (Milner 64), Dzeko (Negredo 85)
Unused: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Lescott, Jovetic
Goals: Silva (18)
Booked: Toure, Kompany, Silva, Garcia
Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the Match: David Silva
City have missed a chance to overtake Chelsea in the Premier League table following a draw at Arsenal. In the bigger picture of the season, however, it could be a valuable point for the Blues, with some tricky fixtures ahead.
The visitors began the game much in the same vein as they did at Old Trafford earlier in the week, but the breakthrough was slower to come. Zabaleta twice found himself in behind the Gunners’ defence, but on both occasions the pull-back didn’t find a City shirt. Navas picked up the rebound to the first and tried an effort from range, but it flashed just wide of the top corner.
The away fans had their hearts in their mouths on 12 minutes when Rosicky went down under a challenge from Zabaleta. The referee, though, was unmoved, pointing for a goal kick, and it was the correct decision. In fact, the Arsenal man was lucky not to be shown a yellow card for a dive.
Just before the 20-minute mark, the Blues took the lead, in a manner that was eerily reminiscent of the way they opened the scoring in Tuesday’s Manchester Derby. Silva lead the City breakaway and fed Dzeko on the left side of the box. The Bosnian’s effort slammed into the near post and landed perfectly for the Spaniard to prod the rebound into the net.
Flamini thought he had equalised a few minutes later, but his volley – which he bounced down into the ground and over Hart into the net – was correctly ruled out for offside. City’s offside trap was still looking very disciplined and had worked. At the other end, Nasri was desperate to get on the scoresheet, but his low volley was well held by Szczesny.
The feeling, though, was very much that City hadn’t scored more when they were in control of the game – and they could have been punished for it. Dzeko had the chance to make it two for the Blues, but Szczesny got down well to make the save. It turned out to be crucial, as Flamini peeled away from Fernandinho inside the City box, as the Brazilian slipped on the greasy turf, and turned Podolski’s cross into the net.
On the hour mark, City were thankful to Hart for a brilliant save in a spell of Arsenal pressure. Podolski was clean through on goal on the left side and, with Hart bearing down, smashed a shot towards the net – but the England goalkeeper diverted it behind at the near post with his boot.
City were being restricted to breakaways as the home side had wind in their sails, but Fernandinho was close to giving the Blues the lead for the second time with a long range effort. The ball fell nicely for him to volley and it was smashed back towards the net – with Szczesny flicking it over the bar with a fingertip.
Despite the home side having more of the ball, it was still the Blues with the better of the chances. A goalmouth scramble almost had City back in the lead, but Toure couldn’t force the ball over the Arsenal goalkeeper after trying to go round the Polish international, before the rebound wouldn’t fall for Nasri or Dzeko waiting in the middle.
With tricky games to come, City seemed content with a point from the evening – but, on another day, they could have had all three.