Manchester City 0-3 Arsenal: Shaky first half, superb second

Arsenal produced a professional second-half display to dispatch ten-man Manchester City 3-0 and move up to second place in the Premier League table.

So often in the past the big moments have gone against us in the big games but after Mark Clattenburg showed tremendous bravery to send off Dedryck Boyata after four minutes for clear last-man challenge on Marouane Chamakh, the Arsenal boys took advantage to secure an emphatic victory.

There were a couple of surprises in the Arsenal team – Denilson was a last-minute replacement for the injured Abou Diaby while Bacary Sagna returned at right-back ahead of Emmanuel Eboue – but it was City who made the early running. As early as the very first minute Johan Djourou dived in rashly on Carlos Tevez on the wing, the Argentine wriggled free to cross for David Silva and the Spaniard’s shot was superbly saved by Lukas Fabianski.

Fabianski's first brilliant save

Fabianski's first brilliant save

Despite looking shaky at the back we responded well going forward: Andrey Arshavin was put through on goal by Cesc Fabregas, only for the linesman to incorrectly flag for offside while our captain repeated the trick to release Chamakh. This time there was no flag as Boyata blatantly took down the striker, the referee produced a red card and the complexion of the game changed.

At first our boys didn’t handle the one-man advantage particularly well. Defensively we looked scattered – Djourou in particular having an afternoon to forget – while City appeared intent on doing whatever it took to turn the game into 10 v 10. Our midfielders naively assisted, Denilson in particular clashing with Tevez shortly after the sending-off.

But after 20 minutes of surprisingly even football, Nasri combined with Andrey Arshavin to score a superb opening goal. The Russian found space cleverly in the area and Nasri played a clever one-two before burying the shot past Joe Hart. The Frenchman is now our leading goalscorer for the season.

Upon scoring the opener our game relaxed and we produced some good passing football. Fabregas caused all sorts of problems with his excellent control and intelligent movement, a combination that sucked Vincent Kompany into the foolish concession of a penalty. But with the opportunity to go into half-time with a two-goal lead Cesc rather telegraphed his penalty and Hart produced a super stop.

As the referee blew for half-time my mind wandered back to Tomas Rosicky’s miss at Sunderland: would we rue this mistake too? I also feared a second-half sending off for one of our players: Denilson, Song, Fabregas and Nasri were all in the book and the former two, in particular, were throwing their bodies around rather needlessly at times.

It appeared that the manager said the right things at the break because the second half was exactly what was required. Aside from another early David Silva shot which produced a second world-class save from Fabianski, we controlled the game from start to finish, attacked patiently and were far more secure at the back. A number of chances came and went to score the second goal but in the end it was Song who got it, flicking home a superb shot after excellent initial probing from Chamakh and Fabregas.

At 2-0 the game was well and truly over and City knew it. Emmanuel Adebayor’s introduction did nothing to help their cause while our substitutes – Tomas Rosicky, Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott – created more problems for the City defence. In the end it was the Dane who put the icing on the cake, slotting home a third goal after more good work from Nasri and a superb result was confirmed.

The boys celebrate Song's goal

I have been critical in the past of our ability to get the job done in the big games but this was a big game and, early red card or no early red card, we well and truly got the job done. Three points away from home against one of our major title rivals (it still feels strange to say that), three goals scored and rather brilliantly, a clean sheet.

We still looked a bit shaky at the back but with Sebastien Squillaci having an excellent game and Fabianski once again flawless, there is real cause for optimism. Djourou’s game was tainted by some poor decision-making early on but like the rest of his teammates, became more assured in the second half of the game.

Further forward everybody contributed. Arshavin was quiet but grabbed an assist while Chamakh was fouled for the red card. Nasri scored the first and assisted the third while Cesc played a part in the sending off, the second goal and won the penalty. Song scored the second goal and produced a brilliant second-half performance while Denilson was terrific despite minimal playing time this season.

City manager Roberto Mancini made the bold statement that his side would have won the game if not for Boyata’s red card, but I don’t agree. The home side made a bright start but nobody seems to have realised that had the linesman not incorrectly flagged Arshavin offside, we may well have been a goal up when Chamakh was put through. As for the red card incident itself, if Boyata doesn’t foul then Chamakh scores and with a goal advantage I would fancy us to beat any team in the world.

At the end of the day the scoreline read Manchester City 0, Arsenal 3 and it doesn’t get much more emphatic than that. A proud day to be a Gooner and hopefully, just hopefully this will create some much-needed confidence and belief in the boys that they can get the job done in the big games.


Have your say on Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Manchester City by leaving a comment.



  1. With the pace we are going, we are going to be unbeatable to the big spenders. Infact with the way am looking at my team Arsenal, i am hungry to meet Real Madrid in Quarter final and Barcelona in Final.

    This is our year of trouphy. I dont have money to bet, but whosoever want to argue it can place something on and i will win it gallantly. Am so confident.

  2. Pretty much sums it up, especially the “what if” analysis. I personally don’t buy the thought that the opposition losing a player automatically means victory for the other side. It frequently isn’t as simple as that. We did the job we had to do and got a good victory when all is said and done. A very good day at the office.

  3. u guys kill me….djurou had a game to forget? he has been out so long
    what was the score again?
    stop picking holes man!

  4. Great analysis as usual Andy.

    Fabianski save against an off-side Adebayor (how often was he offside for Arsenal? Like, always!!) was great as well, even though it wouldn’t have counted.

    Kudos to Fabianski for stepping up.

    Everyone see Song and Nasri joking with Adebayor?

  5. Someone said “MONEY ISN’T EVERYTHING!” and I subscribe it! Great win, great Cesc said, we would have beaten even a 15 men City team! Go Gunners Go

  6. Amazes me the flak Arshavin gets especially when we’re so often derided by our own fans for lack of cutting edge. Bar an incorrect lino’s flag, AA would have had a goal and an assist in the first 20 mins. He reminds me of Overmars & Pires the way the fans treat him. Not great workrate which gets him stick when we’re not getting goals but always creating even if he’s not credited with the assist.

    As much as City are crying about the red changing the game that incorrect offside call had already stopped us going in front, which in the big games is crucial.

  7. @ simon – I totally agree. As much as it seems like Arshavin could do more work the thing that never stops working is his footballing brain. That’s just his style and it’s frustrating that many other Arsenal fans can’t see it.

  8. It is interesting with Arshavin. There’s no doubt that he is a fantastic footballer. He has, in a way, become the “victim”, if you will, of his own high standards. It seems that when he doesn’t produce the four goals and/or the brilliance, we’ve come to expect from him, it comes across to some, that he is not trying.
    It looks also, like he takes some of the “criticism”personally, because it was obvious that he has been working hard on the defensive side of his game. At one stage in the first half, he was even further back than Gael Clichy, helping out.
    On the point of the players who joked with Adebayor. I think they showed great determination(as did the team as a whole), to stop him having an impact on the game when he came on.
    It was a great team performance and a further boost to the confidence levels.

  9. Thought Sagna was outstanding, especially considering short layoff. Fabianski sparkled with several reaction saves, and, mirabile dictu, Arshavin scrambling back to cover in the left back corner early in second half. Watched the game with my niece’ s husband in North Carolina. His (non-soccer fan) take on our our “overelaborating” style: “what are they trying to do?” this without any prompting from me. That said, he did enjoy it, and I was ecstatic. Song did hold most of the time, deserved the goal, and it looks like Nick spent a lot of his time off practicing his shooting. My young friend and new fan appreciated Arshavin, Nasri and Fabianski the most.

  10. Absolutely sensational performance. I thought when Cesc had his penalty saved City might have gotten the shot in the arm they needed to come back, but we effectively finished them off with some deadly passing. Really fantastic game to watch, and we should mention more that we actually kept a clean sheet against one of the best attacking teams in the world! We had not done so for games, and the fact that Fabianski was in the center of it (see Adebayor’s unavoidably high header) must prove that Almunia will be warming the bench in the winter months. Also, this game proves why Cesc MUST NOT go, despite the fact that Nasri might be our most in-form player at the moment. Response?

  11. Gone is the day that we played excellent football but ended up losing. Fabianski is the person who changes it. He shall be the man of the match.

  12. It goes to show all the money in the world does not buy you a great team. Arsenal played brilliantly against a team who are suppossed to walk this league. Man City championship material, on that performance I would say no. There is only one player who is sheer class that is Tevez. He should be in Arsenal’s team, he would do great there with kind of football they play

  13. welcome three points against title aspirants and moneybags despite it was against ten men. However there is still question mark about the defence especially clichy and djourou who were poor and gave city opportunities to score Sure chelsea and man u would have taken advantage and probably won. To have any realistic chance of winning the title after missing out on five years gunners will have to beat chelsea and man u. With five points behind and other three other title contenders on same number of points it is going to be a herculean for gunners to end up winning epl title.

  14. With Bendtner and Walcott back in the squad, it is very heartening. Robin van Persie and Thomas Vermaelen are the missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of a fantastic arsenal team. With both of them coming back, I can foresee a great future for our club. There is competition for every position on the pitch which is good to see. I think if we stay relatively injury-free, we are bound to win titles this season. Also we have two hungry young men who were dropped from their World Cup squads [God knows why] Nasri and Walcott both in fine form. Come on Theo, show ur worth to that bastard from Italy [Fabio Capello].

  15. What a win that was… Absolutely fantastic!! See what it means to have a decent Goalkeeper? It instills confidence in the defense, midfield, in attack, morale and fans! It truly makes a difference..
    Clichy unfortunately has been very poor… Im a big fan of “les bleus” and he looks just as bad in a blue shirt, absolutely unable to put in a single dangerous cross (such bad technique)..and he seems to be unable to defend as well…even his sprint speed has been under par..
    It’s time to give Young Gibbs a chance…

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