Nasri 21, Song 66, Bendtner 88
Arsenal managed to reduce the gap between themselves and Premier League leaders Chelsea to five points after a commanding win over Manchester City.
After Dedryck Boyata was sent off early on, it was inevitable that City would reshuffle, yet Arsenal’s movements forced the hosts into frequently altering their left-back in an attempt to contain the in-form Frenchman. With Arsenal’s midfield all rotating around the central pivot of Alex Song, the full-backs were responsible for maintaining the side’s width. In Gael Clichy and the returning Backary Sagna, the Gunners possess pacy, direct outlets that can surge forward beyond the wingers who have a tendency to cut inside and feed off the hold up play of Marouane Chamakh.
Arsenal were able to call upon Cesc Fabregas in the absence of the suspended Jack Wilshere and the captain’s presence was a key component in his side’s match winning performance. His varied range of passing kept the opposition midfield at arm’s length and his experience enabled him to slow the game down during spells of City pressure in the second-half. With Wilshere out, Fabregas comfortably fitted into the role of supplying the lone front man from central positions and had his through ball not been cut out by the Man City defence he would have slipped Chamakh in one-on-one against Joe Hart. Fortunately for Arsenal, the block fell to the feet of Song, who powered a shot high into the net to double the Gunners’ lead at a time where the hosts were threatening to equalise.
Lukasz Fabianski’s purple patch continued and his performance laid the foundations for his colleagues to secure the win. The goalkeeper Arsene Wenger labeled ‘world class’ upon his Arsenal debut performed a save worthy of such praise in the opening minute, stretching to deny David Silva’s clever flick from a Carlos Tevez cutback. Fabianski was again the victor when he and Silva clashed in the second half- pushing his shot away from harm and out for a corner. His recent impressive displays may not have atoned for his previously costly errors- most notably against Chelsea in the FA Cup Semi Final and against Porto in last season’s Champions League- but the perception of Fabianski is swinging from ‘ridiculous’ to ‘somewhat reliable’ such is the improvement made from his run in the team.Losing at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season may have had pundits and fans alike discarding the Gunners’ title credentials but their display against the champions indicated that Arsene Wenger’s side were developing into one that could prevent Chelsea retaining their crown. Despite being gifted a man advantage by Boyata’s hasty challenge on Chamakh, Arsenal still had to overcome a team that is expected to finish in a Champions League qualifying place, emphasising the importance of such an impressive victory.
3 Sagna – 18 Squillaci – 20 Djourou – 22 Clichy
8 Nasri – 4 Fabregas – 17 Song- 15 Denilson- 23 Arshavin
70- 7 Rosicky on for 23 Arshavin
84- 52 Bendtner on for 29 Chamakh
84- 14 Walcott on for 4 Fabregas