Post-Match Report

Premiership: Arsenal 3-1 Man City - Match Report

Manchester City -

Emirates Stadium
Barclays Premier League
Barclays Premier League
  Arsenal
   crest
Arsenal
3 1
  Manchester City
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Manchester City

By Richard Clarke

Arsenal moved up to third in the Premiership with a 3-1 win over
Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.

Arsène Wenger's side had gone a long way towards
securing a Champions League spot on Saturday when they beat Bolton
with goals from Tomas Rosicky and Cesc Fabregas. 

This evening they pretty much completed the job thanks to
replica strikes from the same players. Damarcus Beasley's
effort just before the interval separated those goals. But when
substitute Julio Baptista added a third goal 10 minutes from time
Arsenal could at last breathe easy. 

However that does not tell the full story of this game. The
visitors were resilient in defence and dangerous on the break. The
score was 1-1 for around half an hour and during that period they
worried the home side considerably.

But just as concern was starting to turn to desperation, Arsenal
found the goals to secure the points and, with it, surely a place
in European football's premier competition next season.

Before kick-off, Wenger had said he would stay true to the side
that had beaten Bolton on Saturday. He kept his word although a
hamstring injury sidelined Freddie Ljungberg and so Abou Diaby
stepped in as the deep-lying support for Emmanuel
Adebayor. 

Manchester City were deprived of Emile Mpenza because of a hip
injury so Stuart Pearce brought in Dietmar Hamann as part of a
five-man midfield. 

The result against Bolton at the weekend had taken a lot of the
pressure off Wenger's side. Having fallen behind, Rosicky
bundled in the equaliser just before half time with a well-timed
run into the area from the left-flank. Wenger later said it could
turn out to be the most important goal of Arsenal's season.

This evening, the Czech midfielder put the hosts ahead with a
carbon copy strike after 12 minutes. Diaby nudged the ball to Eboue
on the right flank and the Ivorian curled in a delightful cross to
the far post. As on Saturday, Rosicky was hardly favourite to reach
the ball but Nedum Onouha stood motionless as the midfielder
flicked home his sixth goal of the campaign.

That was the only real chance of opening 25 minutes. Arsenal
were lively enough and certainly in charge but chances were a
premium. Still it was worth remembering that the visitors came into
this game with the best defence in the Premiership outside the top
five and the worst attack aside from rock-bottom Watford. 

The outstretched leg of Richard Dunne denied the galloping
William Gallas on the edge of the area in the 28th minute. Just
after that, Diaby returned to pitch with a bandaged head after
lengthy treatment on the pitch and then the sidelines. His
re-introduction did not last long and Baptista came on. The
Brazilian saw his deflected free-kick drift over the bar in the
32nd minute. Then Fabregas, who had hit his first Premiership goal
of the season on Saturday, warmed the hands of Andreas Isaksson
with a shot from distance. 

To this point the visitors had hardly figured as an attacking
force. But they carved out a clear-cut chance eight minutes before
the break. Vassell's left-wing cross was nodded on by Gallas
and fell to Sun Jihai at the far post. The Chinese midfielder
slipped as the ball reached him and that split second delay allowed
Gael Clichy to charge down his shot.

The equaliser would follow soon afterwards. On 41 minutes, Jens
Lehmann scuffed a clearance to Joey Barton and Michael Johnson
managed to nudge a pass into the path of Beasley in the left-hand
channel. The American darted into the area before prodding his shot
beyond the Arsenal keeper and just inside the far post.

Incredibly the visitors might have gone into the break leading
after Lehmann flew to his left to divert Barton's shot around
the post.

Arsenal's nerves were hardly settled by the half-time break.
Manchester City began the second period as they had ended the first
- testing the resolve of the home defence. 

Gradually Wenger's men recovered their composure. In the
53rd minute, a flowing move ended with Fabregas seeing a shot
deflect wide. 

However the game was starting to stretch by now. Arsenal prodded
and probed for an opening but Manchester City were canny on the
counterattack. 

Barton got the glimpse of an opening in the 62nd minute but
fired straight at Lehmann. Then Adebayor thumped a shot against
Andreas Isaksson at the near post and Hleb cracked an effort just
wide.

They were half-chances in truth. However the effort carved out
in the 67th minute was clear and obvious. Adebayor's dummy sent
Rosicky raiding down the left wing. He cut the ball back to
Togolese striker on the edge of the area but his contact was poor
and Distin managed to block.

Seconds later, Adebayor was on the end of Hleb's hanging
cross. This time his execution was excellent and Isaksson saved low
at his near post.

However there was little the Swedish keeper could do with
Fabregas' strike 17 minutes from time. Rosicky miscontrolled
the ball on the edge of the area and Onuoha clipped a clearance to
the Spanish midfielder. It sat up perfectly for a long range volley
and Fabregas duly obliged with a rasping right-foot shot. 

Baptista swept home a third in the 80th minute after Hleb had
cut in from the left. Arsenal now had control of the game and
coasted the final few minutes. Their only scare came three minutes
from time when Lehmann made a fine save after Manchester City
substitute Georgios Samaras danced clear in the area.

Referee: Mark Halsey
Attendance: 59913

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