Arsenal made the most of their numerical advantage to record a somewhat flattering scoreline against Manchester City and only their second away win in nine league outings. The 3-0 defeat inflicted upon the Citizens was their heaviest loss at home since 2007 and went some way to avenging the Gunners’ painful 4-2 defeat at Eastlands last season.
This time around, there were far fewer incendiary moments, but the flashpoint came early on in proceedings when Dedryck Boyata was dismissed for a professional foul on Marouane Chamakh. On the first of many occasions on Sunday afternoon, Chamakh looked to latch on to a probing Cesc Fabregas pass, and Boyata’s desperate lunge made contact with the man rather than the ball. Far from proving to be the expected hammer blow to City, the dismissal appeared to galvanise them, whilst it was Arsenal who struggled to come to terms with events, as a flurry of bookings for the men in red threatened to even up the numbers and relinquish their advantage. Whilst the Gunners maintained their numerical advantage, bookings for the entire midfield trio handed the impetus to City who enjoyed lengthy spells of possession.
Arsene Wenger’s men eventually made the most of their twist of fate, with Andrey Arshavin’s plight neatly summing up the mixed fortunes of the team. His self-deprecation during the week, hailing Jack Wilshere as already being better than him, appeared to evidence a crisis of confidence for the normally outspoken Russian. As if confirming this diagnosis, prior to the match Arsene Wenger billed his enigma as one of the most creative talents in the league in an effort to build up his confidence: “If
The manager rightly billed him as a creative force, yet on Sunday an inability to first perform the basics was holding him back. That is until he was pressed into action when Clichy was caught up the pitch and he had to fill in at left-back. He snuffed out the danger and his sterling effort repaid any debt owed to Clichy up to that point and appeared to galvanise his own performance. Shortly afterwards, he showed a precision and deftness of touch previously lacking from his game to carve open the City defence for Samir Nasri to open the scoring.
From that point on, Arsenal were in control, without ever being truly comfortable. Fabregas suffered his first penalty miss of the season after being successful in his previous five attempts, to leave the Gunners on edge at the half-time interval. The manager apparently impressed the need for discipline upon his players, as the spate of rash decisions witnessed in the first half subsided, and the men in red worked the ball far more effectively. As the game wore on, the extra man told and Alex Song’s rifled finish, coupled with Nicklas Bendtner’s goalscoring return capped a vintage Arsenal counter-attacking move and saw the Gunners claim three goals and a valuable three points.