Gabriel Martinelli’s late deflected strike gave us a huge win against champions Manchester City at Emirates Stadium.
In a game with little goalmouth action throughout, it was left to substitute Martinelli – on his first appearance since the middle of September – to score the only goal of the game, and move us above Pep Guardiola’s men in the table.
It ended a run of 12 consecutive defeats against City, and it’s a victory that could yet prove significant come the end of the season.
As usual, the atmosphere inside Emirates Stadium was electric at kick-off, as both sides knew top spot in the Premier League was up for grabs, and it was the visitors who had the first sight of goal. From their first corner of the afternoon, Josko Gvardiol hooked goalwards, but Declan Rice was well-placed to head off the line. The danger was not cleared though, until Nathan Ake blazed over when the ball fell to him inside the area.
It was a big let-off early on, and there was another on the quarter hour. We were playing the ball around at the back, but David Raya spent just too long in possession, Julian Alvarez closed him down and the keeper’s attempted clearance clattered against the Argentine and just wide of his own post.
We needed to get into the game, and Eddie Nketiah did well to work a shooting opportunity inside the area, but flashed his effort wide.
Kovacic stays on
We began to come back into the game, the intensity increased and there was a flashpoint when Mateo Kovacic dived in late on Martin Odegaard. He was only shown a yellow card, despite a VAR review.
Within minutes the Croatian then fouled Declan Rice with a similar lunge, but to the amazement of the Emirates faithful, the referee kept his cards in his pocket.
We were having our best spell of the half, and Alex Zinchenko had two speculative shots from the edge of the area blocked.
Mikel Arteta introduced Gabriel Martinelli for the second half, the Brazilian returning to action after missing the last five games with injury.
He took up his usual position on the left, replacing Leandro Trossard, with Gabriel Jesus on the opposite flank. After a run of 87 consecutive appearances in the Premier League, Bukayo Saka was not involved at all.
Martinelli struck our first shot on target five minutes after coming on. He was set up by Declan Rice, but the angle was always against him.
The pace of the game began to drop, and chances were scarce for either side. As we entered the final 15 minutes, Arteta made a triple change, bringing on Kai Havertz, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Thomas Partey.
Martinelli wins it
All four of the subs combined for the goal.
A long pass from Partey was nodded down by Tomiyasu into the path of Havertz just inside the area. He in turn laid it off to Martinelli. the Brazilian's first-time shot was on target, but completely wrong-footed Ederson when it smashed off Nathan Ake’s face, into the net
The Emirates erupted. We had barely been troubled at the back, all evening, but now we had a lead to see out for the final few minutes.
We managed it without much cause for alarm, to extend our unbeaten start in the Premier League to eight games, and finally get one over last season’s treble-winners.
Stats and facts
After a run of 15 games without a victory in this fixture (D2 L13), losing each of the last 12 in a row, we have beaten Manchester City in the Premier League for the first time since December 2015.
Manchester City have lost consecutive games in the Premier League for the first time since December 2018 (against Crystal Palace and Leicester City).
We have won a Premier League match against the competition’s reigning champions for the first time since April 2017 against Leicester.
City had four shots in this match – it’s the fewest shots a Pep Guardiola side has had in a top-flight game since April 2010 with Barcelona against Espanyol (4).
We are yet to lose a Premier League game this season (W6 D2), last going on a longer unbeaten run to start a campaign in 2007/08 (15 games).
Gabriel Martinelli scored his first Premier League goal of the season, ending a run of nine games without converting since netting against Southampton in April.
The international players will now join up with their respective national teams for the next round of qualifiers and friendlies. We are back in action on Saturday, October 21 away to Chelsea in the Premier League, which will be followed by a trip to Sevilla in the Champions League on Tuesday, October 24.
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