Manchester City vs Arsenal: Match Report

Manchester City vs Arsenal: Match Report

In the end, it all ended as it started.

Liverpool had sneaked a 2-1 win against a well organised Brighton and Hove Albion which dumped all the pressure on Arsenal and Manchester City. And it showed as both sides struggled to create proper chances for their attackers. The home side raced off to a quick start and showed their visitors that they meant business by pinning them inside their own half.

Yet that quickly lead to nothing as Arsenal threw, quite literally, everybody they had on the field at the ball in order to stop City. It worked beautifully for the Gunners, whose gameplan seemed like they were trying to soak up all the pressure and sucker punch City. The classic smash and grab to be more articulate but given how low the bar was set for Arsenal, the Gunners showed personality.

After all, history was against them. Their last eight visits to the Etihad Stadium has all seen Arsenal leaving after getting pummelled by City. The combined scoreline over that period is not pretty (22-4) and it meant that many an Arsenal fan walked into the game expecting more. What they got wasn’t the statement victory and their first double over City in years many wanted but it was a result.

Yet, even that result was nearly sent down the drain after Nathan Ake headed a well taken corner at goal, as every City fan in the stadium held their collective breath. But David Raya stood firm, blocked the shot and somehow Arsenal escaped yet again. And yet, the Spaniard wasn’t the star of the show because that goes to the Arsenal defenders, especially given the fact that they walked into the game with an incredible record.

The home side had scored in 57 consecutive home games until today with Arsenal putting up an incredibly disciplined defensive showing. That was showcased by the way Erling Haaland was marshalled into silence by Gabriel and William Saliba although the same can be said on the other side. City’s defense is often questioned but that has changed over the last few years thanks to various tweaks by Pep Guardiola.

Ben White and Josko Gvardiol

The combination of Rodri, Ruben Dias, Josko Gvardiol, Manuel Akanji, Nathan Ake (and Rico Lewis) all meant that Arsenal could create very little. They did have only 29% of the ball by the end of the final whistle but by the end of the first half, the Gunners hadn’t managed more than four shots on goal, with one on target, the same as City. However, the real change came after Guardiola threw on Jeremy Doku and Jack Grealish.

The two wingers added urgency and directness that City desperately needed. Doku especially, down the right flank, caused all sorts of problems for Jakub Kiwor that Mikel Arteta eventually took the plunge and replaced him with Takehiro Tomiyasu. Yet, the one stick used to beat Doku all season has been his end product and that continued tonight.

The Belgian was gorgeous on the ball, often danced through the defense but then proceeded to either sky his shot or send his cross to a defender. City continued to create chances, as they did in the first half, with Mateo Kovacic, Erling Haaland and a few others all sending their attempts either fairly wide or just wide (in Kovacic’s case). Yet, in the end, the main talking point was the referee as Anthony Taylor simply refused to show a card.

The game ended with a combined 29 fouls (20 to Arsenal, 9 to City) but only two yellow cards. One to Gabriel Jesus for throwing the ball away and one to David Raya for time-wasting. Yet, when the referee is the major talking point, it says a lot. But the fact that Manchester City produced nearly 700 passes but created no chances from open play, says everything.

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