A sending off, Carlos Tevez and Yaya Toure injured and three goals conceded wasn’t what City wanted as they lost at Eastlands for the first time this season.
The blues sat in second place in the table prior to the fixture and were hoping for three points against the Gunners that would keep the pressure on Chelsea. The blues have won this fixture for the last two seasons, as well as beating the Gunners in the League Cup Quarter Final last season and named Mario Balotelli on the bench, alongside Europa League hat-trick hero Emmanuel Adebayor, as Carlos Tevez was returned to the starting line-up.
Before the game, Bobby Mancini justified his decision by explaining the importance of having a good bench. “When we play a game every three days, players who start on the bench can be important, it’s very important we have a good bench. Mario Balotelli is not ready to play a whole game or 45 minutes but it’s important that he’s now available and he can maybe play 10 or 15 minutes.”
The blues started well and with barely a minute played, Tevez ran along the right wing and his low cross into the area was met by David Silva, whose shot was saved by Arsenal keeper Fabianski. City could have had another chance in the third minute when Micah Richards burst into the box but couldn’t find the pass.
A minute later came the game’s first talking point. Dedryck Boyata brought down Marouane Chamakh and, despite it not being a clear goal scoring opportunity, referee Mark Clattenburg produced a red card for the youngster. Clattenburg was probably going to send him off anyway, but the situation wasn’t helped by Cesc Fabregas, who disgraced himself by waving an imaginary card to get the City man sent off.
After that, Fabregas got a bit of attention from the City midfield. First Nigel de Jong, who was heavily criticised in City’s last home league game against Newcastle, Made a good challenge on Fabregas but Gareth Barry was booked for what looked like a fair challenge on Spaniard.
The game threatened to become a bad tempered affair and Clattenburg angered the City faithful by not booking Song for a rash challenge on Silva after just thirteen minutes played.
Carlos Tevez had a chance to give City the lead but his scuffed shot was saved while at the other end, Chamakh headed over from six yards when he really should have scored. However Arsenal did score moment later when Samir Nasri was neatly played through and beat Joe Hart at his near post.
City 0-1 Arsenal
On 26 minutes, Fabregas saw his name in the book for foul tackle on de Jong and from the free kick, City played it among themselves before Micah Richards made a dash for the penalty area, turned in the box and unleashed a left foot shot that went agonisingly wide.
In the 40th minute, Vincent Kompany seemed to get to the ball ahead of Fabregas but the Spaniard went to ground and Clattenburg awarded the visitors a penalty. To a chorus of boos, Fabregas dusted himself off and took the spot kick himself, only to see it brilliantly saved by England’s number one keeper Joe Hart. Kompany had a chance to level the scores a minute later but headed over from a corner.
Clattenburg continued to annoy the home support by not awarding a penalty for handball, but the ball found its way through to Silva, who was onside but couldn’t control it. Kompany then made a great block from to keep the score at 1-0, as he got his body in the way of Denilson’s fierce drive.
The last chance of the half fell to Arsenal, but a free kick, conceded by de Jong on Fabregas on edge of box, came to nothing as ref blew for half time. A goal and a man down, City had a mountain to climb in the second half.
Half Time: City 0-1 Arsenal
Wayne Bridge replaced Yaya Toure at half time after the midfielder picked up a knock in the first half, which meant Barry could return to his usual midfield role. Within six minutes of the start of the second half, Tevez went off with a presumed injury and was replaced by Emmanuel Adebayor.
The Togolese striker was the catalyst for a near riot last season from the Arsenal fans and his introduction again produced jeers from the away end. But the striker was not given the service he needed to follow up his midweek European hat-trick.
City’s problems increased on 66 minutes after another Arsenal move ended with Alex Song sweeping the ball into the back of the net and giving the visitors breathing space. City pressed but they looked a beaten side and didn’t look like scoring even after Italian striker Mario Balotello was introduced five minutes after the goal, replacing the ineffective and disappointing Gareth Barry.
City gave a brief rally, with Adebayor just failing to reach Silva’s pass and Jerome Boateng’s drive was tipped away by Fabianski.
Arsenal made the game safe with two minutes left and there was more than a little controversy over the goal. The ball seemed to go out of play for a City throw in but none of the officials seemed to notice and the ball found its way to Nicklas Bendner, who looked marginally offside, who raced into the area and finished neatly into the back of the net.
Final Score: City 0-3 Arsenal
The defeat was City’s heaviest at home since being beaten by Blackburn in January 2007 by the same scoreline, but it is Arsenal’s first clean sheet on the road in 16 attempts.
City now lie in fourth place, five points behind leaders Chelsea and the next game at Wolves will be of utmost importance to the blues if they are to keep up their dreams of Champions League qualification.
What do you think? Did City deserve to lose today? Let us know your thoughts.
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