Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal – as it happened
Manchester City scraped a win in a frantic encounter at the Etihad Stadium.
FULL-TIME: Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal. That is, indeed, that. A frantic game, in which City emerged deserved victors over an extremely shaky Arsenal side. Both teams suffered from a lack of finesse, but in the end Silva’s goal was enough to earn the win. This was hardly sending out a message, though – Arsenal were available for a real shellacking today, but managed to escape with a narrow defeat. But it’s points that win prizes, and City take all three today. Thanks for reading.
90+3 min: Vermaelen goes within inches again! He tried to curl it into the far post, and Hart looked beaten, but it just dropped wide. This is unbelievable, but it’s surely over now.
90+2 min: City have it in the corner. That might be that.
90 min: Vermaelen goes close! Arsenal have a free-kick out wide, and they slide it along the ground for the Belgian to send in a drive – it looks for all the world that it’s flying in, but Hart leaps up to push it over. City are under siege.
88 min: Szczesny hoofs the ball boxwards from the halfway line. It eventually falls to Arshavin, whose effort crashes into the side-netting. Mancini will be livid if City throw this – a game in which they could feasibly have score six or seven – away.
85 min: City squander two ridiculous chances courtesy of Richards and Aguero. My diagnosis is that they are far from guaranteed winners – proper, dominant title-winning teams, like Ronaldo’s United, or Mourinho’s Chelsea, would’ve given this Arsenal team an absolute shoeing. I really can’t express enough how bad their defending has been.
84 min: If there is going to be another goal – and my gut feeling is that there is – then Arsenal look the more likely to score it. Of course, it’s Arsenal, so that tells us precisely nothing about who actually will get it.
80 min: Some of the most pathetic defending I’ve ever seen, from Mertesacker, nearly does for Arsenal. Aguero tries to run onto what should be a lost cause, but Mertesackers pursuit is so ineffectual – not merely slow, but as if he didn’t really understand what was happening or that he was supposed to be stopping anyone – that the Argentinian gets a decent shot away, which Szczesny, having played with Mertesacker before, did well to anticipate.
79 min: Arsenal waste a good period of sustained pressure by backheeling it out of play. That’s sooooo Arsenal.
77 min: Richards gets away with a handball in the area! After a cross is half-cleared, it comes to him, with his arms not too far away from his side, and he has no time to react. It would’ve been harsh, but it could easily have been given.
74 min: Arteta is the latest of a series of Arsenal players to give away silly fouls, as he tackles Barry. The City fans want a second yellow, but it was never a booking. In the end, Aguero gives the ball away for the umpteenth time – he’s been lively, scary, and totally impotent.
71 min: Aguero goes in the book for a late tackle on Vermaelen. Balotelli off, Milner on. Mancini’s looking to bank this one.
70 min: Further incompetence from City, who, after executing a wonderful breakaway from an Arsenal corner, find Aguero in space, but he rolls a terrible pass right at Vermaelen when the defence was scattered. Make no mistake, Arsenal could’ve been utterly destroyed here.
68 min: Walcott, who’s been anonymous, off, for the frequently-anonymous Arshavin. A good move, in my opinion. If Arshavin decides to turn up today, he’s exactly what Arsenal need.
66 min: Zabaleta hits the post! He intercepted an Arsenal breakout and then had time to steel himself before unleashing a vicious drive at goal. Szczesny was hopelessly beaten, on one knee, praying for the woodwork to come to his aid, and in the end it did. Arsenal are hanging on here.
64 min: It’s end-to-end, but very much ‘two-drunks-fighting’ rather than ‘clash of the titans.’
63 min: And then Van Persie nearly scores out of nowhere! This game is utterly ridiculous now.
62 min: City miss a three-on-one! Nasri, Balotelli, and Aguero all get the jump on the Arsenal backline, but the Frenchman’s pass is too hard for both of them. What a huge missed opportunity. Arsenal are all over the place here, and if they don’t regroup soon, City will surely deliver the coup de grace.
60 min: This is ferocious stuff now – the tackles are flying in from all directions. And suddenly Aguero goes close! The end-to-end play resulted in Arsenal’s defence going AWOL yet again, but Aguero’s low drive just rolled past the post.
58 min: No. Arsenal’s defence has been odd today, a performance I would describe as quietly shambolic. They’ve invited huge amounts of pressure, not dealt with anything entirely effectively, but have been fortunate that City haven’t been good enough to punish them as severely as they deserve.
58 min: Koscielny bundles Aguero over on the left-hand side of the area. A chance for City to finish them…
55 min: Arsenal have the ball in the net, but it’s offside. For once, Gervinho picks the right pass, which allows Van Persie to be played in. He turns and coolly chips Hart, but he’s ruled offside – correctly.
52 min: GOAL! Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal (Silva) That’s torn it. I was about to say that both sides aren’t attacking with any real finesse, and they still aren’t, but City have done enough. Balotelli is played down the left in an ocean of space, and he cuts inside, past Song, and drives at Szczesny. But he can only palm it wide, and it comes to Silva, who has an easy finish with the Pole lying on the turf. Arsenal haven’t shown that they’re likely to come back from this so far – they need a change to get something from this.
49 min: Miquel, who replaced the injured Djourou, has a nervous first touch of the ball. Toure plays in Nasri with a brilliant pass, but his cross, aiming for Balotelli, is dreadful. Nonetheless, Miquel manages to miscontrol it and give City a corner. It comes to naught.
46 min: Barry catches Song with a nasty follow-through. He escapes a second booking, oddly without much protest – that could’ve been disastrous for City.
ADWATCH: Pepsi Max wankers convince their boss he has mental illness so they can put a television on. Some cars come on the screen, which they cheer loudly at before drinking Pepsi Max and body-popping whilst drinking Pepsi Max.
Microsoft. A dad does his kids homework for him and the son turns his ‘sales pitch’ into a fancier one with explosions and graphics. You’re not allowed to do your child’s homework for them, and anyone who went into a business presentation with explosions and sound effects would be a wanker.
I want to kill myself. No – I want to kill other people. Yeah, stick with that. That’s how to deal with your problems.
If you like this sort of thing, I recommend this. Anyway, we’re off again!
Peep! It’s half-time. I’ll be back as soon as the football is.
44 min: And after that dangerous tackle, which Zabaleta got away without a card for, Koscielny goes into the book after a silly one on Aguero.
42 min: Problem for Arsenal – Van Persie’s hurt. He gets a bad tackle from behind from Zabaleta, and he’s limping away. He looks like he’s probably going to get away without a proper injury, though.
37 min: Arsenal aren’t defending well at all, allowing City time and space around their area, but they can’t capitalise. Aguero overruns the ball, turning a shooting opportunity into a mere crossing one, and then it’s headed away by Koscielny. It comes out to Barry with plenty of time, but his touch is rotten and that chance goes begging as well.
34 min: Koscielny confuses the City defence, storming forwards, laying off to Van Persie, and continuing his run, meaning that Arsenal temporarily have a man to spare. With plenty of options, the Dutchman opts to try a shot, which is poor – it trickles through to Ramsey, but he’s too close to Hart, who smothers it. Scary stuff for City – they were almost caught out there.
29 min: Yaya Toure has a blast from distance, and it’s deflected out for a corner. Arsenal’s inability to clear the ball allows City to put them under siege with repeated crosses, but they hold firm and eventually break free.
27 min: Van Persie takes it, but despite City’s dominance in the air, he elects not to shoot and instead try to float one in. It’s easily cleared.
26 min: Nasri is unlucky to give away a free-kick as he and Gervinho tussle for the ball on the right-wing. A good chance for Arsenal…
23 min: A crucial save from Szczesny! Koscielny was at fault here, producing two episodes of poor defensive headers, as he failed to clear his lines. After the second, the Arsenal defence switched off, and Balotelli was left all alone as the ball fell to him, just five yards out. He scuffed it somewhat, but hit it goalwards nonetheless, but there was Szczesny to storm out and make himself big, blocking the shot. Arsenal really got away with it there – they’re not looking comfortable in the air at all, particularly when Toure or Richards get forward.
20 min: It’s end-to-end, but not producing too many shots on goal. Barry plays Balotelli down the right, before Koscielny puts him on the ground and turns defence into attack with a great pass to Gervinho. The Ivorians wimps out at the edge of the area, though, playing it to Walcott – as if he’s any likelier to score from that distance – and City soon have the ball back again.
19 min: Arsenal appear to have gathered themselves after a nervy start. They’ll need to build up a lead though, to allow themselves to cope when Song gets sent off, which he clearly will.
17 min: Arsenal go close! Song turns and threads Gervinho into a dangerous position down the right-hand channel, and his firm drive is palmed away by Joe Hart. If Hart has a flaw, it’s his failure to hold onto the ball, and he was lucky to see it go wide that time, as opposed to somewhere near the waiting Van Persie.
12 min: Richards rampages forwards from defence, but a crunching tackle stops him. The ball rolls through to Silva, though, who cuts inside and tries to curl it into the goal. It’s blocked, and subsequently dealt with, and Richards is still in pain on the floor. He’s soon up again though, seemingly OK.
10 min: Another opportunity for Aguero dissolves into a bit of a scramble, but it’s pulled back for a foul by Alex Song, who becomes the first player into the book – that’ll be problematic for Arsenal, with Silva and Nasri looking for space in front of the Arsenal defence. City take the free-kick short, and Silva again doesn’t get the pass quite right.
8 min: Aguero wastes a brilliant opportunity! And it came courtesy of some excellent play from the two players you’d probably signal out as the weak links in this City side. Gareth Barry showed excellent vision to spot Zabaleta making a run down the left-hand side that had gone unnoticed by Arsenal, and he had the sense to play it across early for Aguero, bypassing the defence and leaving him one-on-one, only for him to blaze over.
7 min: Walcott gets a typical attack of tunnel-vision as he leads the Arsenal offensive, coming a cropper courtesy of Kompany. Seconds later, City are on the counter. Nasri tries an ambitious through-ball to Aguero, and his aim is true, threading it through several Arsenal bodies, but again the weight is all wrong, Szczesny able to collect before the Argentinian can reach it.
6 min: Nasri takes, and strikes it firm and low towards Szczesny. The Pole gathers without too much trouble, but the hulking Richards was lurking close by.
5 min: Arteta clumsily trips Balotelli, 30 yards out, and City have a decent opportunity from the free-kick…
3 min: Kompany shows a bit of skill to dribble the ball out of defence, beating the Arsenal frontline before playing in Aguero, who drives forwards at Szczesny’s goal. He overruns it though, and is stopped with ease. It comes back out to Silva, who attempts to play in Balotelli, but uncharacteristically gets the pass wrong.
1 min: We’re off, and it’s the home side pinging the ball around with intent and looking to get off to a strong start. And, apologised for the confusion, Clichy was of course suspended, not injured.
Preamble: Good afternoon, lads and lasses. The nights are fair drawing in now, and as darkness falls over Manchester, the affluent half of the city are attempting to arrest a mini-decline which has seem them momentarily leapfrogged in the table by United.
Of course, it was always bound to happen – their hard run of games, which you can consider them right in the thick of, coincided with a relatively straightforward set for Ferguson’s men. But forget about that – imagine that this is an EXCITING and WONDERFUL narrative. On paper, City should tonk Arsenal with the greatest of ease, but the North Londoners are the team in form at the moment, with a new-look sense of solidity which probably has nothing at all to do with the fact they jettisoned Gael Clichy like a used Happy Meal in the summer. And we all know who picked it up, paying seven million pounds for the privelege. Still, he’s injured at the moment. Zabaleta comes in, as you’ll see when you glance at the teamsheets:
Manchester City: Hart, Touré, Kompany, Zabaleta,Richards, Barry, Touré, Nasri, Silva, Balotelli, Agüero. Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Milner, Dzeko, Johnson, Savic, De Jong.
Arsenal: Szczesny; Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Djourou; Song, Arteta, Ramsey; Walcott, Van Persie, Gervinho. Subs: Almunia, Rosicky, Arshavin, Frimpong, Chamakh, Benayoun, Miquel.