Battling Arsenal pick up important point against Manchester City

Arsenal came from behind twice to grab a deserved point at the Etihad Stadium as their game against Manchester City finished 2-2 providing massive relief to fans of Tottenham Hotspur, who were beaten earlier today, and hope to fans of Manchester United, whose Champions League aspirations for next season are once again in their own hands with games to follow against West Ham United and Bournemouth.

Manager Manuel Pellegrini was in-charge of Manchester City for the last time at the Etihad, and it looked like his players were keen on giving him a winning send off as their burst out of the blocks right at the start. Laurent Koscielny just about completed the clearance to prevent Manchester City from scoring as Arsenal made a mess of the kick-off.

What followed was 7 minutes of massive City pressure as Arsenal struggled to get out of their own half, and perhaps more importantly City capped it off by scoring a goal, Sergio Aguero smashing in one with his left foot from Fernandinho’s excellent knock down, beating Petr Cech low down at his near post.

Arsenal responded to going behind by winning a slightly fortuitous corner when Gael Clichy’s header back to Joe Hart went behind, after looking for a while that it might just creep into the far post. Mohammed Elneny was the surprise taker of the corner in Mesut Ozil’s absence, and his perfectly executed set-piece was met by a bullet header from Olivier Giroud, who ended his 4 month goal drought as Arsenal responded with a goal inside 2 minutes. Manchester City though will be unhappy with their defending once again, firstly with the unnecessary corner and then with how easily Giroud was able to escape the attentions of Mangala.

The half though largely belonged to Manchester City, whose best chance fell again to Aguero, the Argentine striker having his strike kneed over by Gabriel.

Manchester City made a bright start to the second half with¬†Fernandinho guilty of blazing over after being played through on goal. Arsenal meanwhile down the other end had a decent shout for a penalty waved away as Fernando pulled Alexis Sanchez’s arm, while Mangala had a fistful of Giroud’s shirt from a freekick.

Man City though appeared to be heading for a home win when Kevin de Bruyne put them ahead moments later, benefiting from a fortunate bounce after he and Bellerin challenged for the same ball. De Bruyne then showed his class by running with the ball, brushing aside the challenge of Bellerin, dancing around Elneny and then hammering in his shot past Petr Cech, who was once again beaten far too easily at his near post, with age seemingly starting to catch-up with the former Chelsea legend, who was expected to help Arsenal to the title this season.

Arsenal showed good character after going behind a second time, creating a clutch of chances, with Walcott guilty of missing a gilt edged opportunity after Aaron Ramsey had played a delightful pass to release the English winger. Walcott’s first touch wasn’t the best, allowing Joe Hart to get close to him, and his dink with the right foot was always going wide, the former Southampton man guilty perhaps of using his wrong foot to find the corner.

Arsenal were to get a deserved equalizer though with the Referee playing a good advantage after Fernandinho clattered Wilshere. Alexis Sanchez used the physical presence of Giroud up front to ping a ball into him, which the French striker brilliantly played back into the Chilean’s path, who finished expertly past by Joe Hart.

Manchester City had some chances to grab the three points later on with De Bruyne seemingly through on goal, only to have his effort blocked, while Petr Cech finally did produce a save of note to tip the Belgian’s freekick over the bar.

Cech though was comfortably beaten by a fantastic strike from substitute Wilfried Bony, who was unlucky not to break his own 5 month goal drought, seeing his shot cannon back into play off the woodwork.

The point earned means that mathematically Arsenal will be guaranteed Champions League football next season with a draw at home to Aston Villa, a team they really would be expected to beat. A win will mean Arsenal will not finish below third place, and can still finish second if Tottenham lose at Newcastle on the final day of the season.

Manchester City meanwhile find that they need someone to do them a favour to ensure they are in the Champions League next season as they find themselves 2 points clear of Manchester United, who travel to Upton Park in midweek to take on West Ham United. The Citizens are away to Swansea next week, a game which they are far from guaranteed to win, and could well find themselves finishing fifth as a result of the dropped points today.

Teams:

Manchester City: Hart, Sagna, Otamendi, Mangala, Clichy, Fernando (Toure 79′), Fernandinho, Navas (Bony 79′), De Bruyne, Iheanacho (Sterling 70′), Aguero.

Subs: Caballero, Angelino, Demichelis, Delph, Toure, Sterling, Bony.

Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Elneny (Coquelin 76′), Ramsey, Welbeck (Wilshere 24′), Iwobi (Walcott 59′), Sanchez, Giroud

Subs: Ospina, Gibbs, Coquelin, Wilshere, Cazorla, Campbell, Walcott.

Final Score: Manchester City 2-2 Arsenal (Aguero 7′, Giroud 9′, De Bruyne 51′, Sanchez 68′)

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