The City Of Manchester Stadium
22/11/08 ... 15:00
Attendance: 44, 878
Mark Hughes made one change to the side that drew against Hull City last Sunday. Richard Dunne returns, to the heart of the defence in place of Tal Ben-Haim. However more surprisingly Joe Hart retains his place in goal. It had it been feared that Hart would be ruled for up to a month but has magically recovered in just a week. For Arsenal, Walcott, Gallas, Toure, & Adebayor are all missing as Manchester City looked to get their first win in five games.
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Dunne (c), Richards, Garrido, Kompany, Ireland, Wright-Phillips, Vassell, Robinho, Benjani.
Subs: Schmeichel, Onuoha, Ben Haim, Hamann, Elano, Sturridge, Evans.
Arsenal: Almunia (c), Hoyte, Silvestre, Clichy, Diaby, Song, Denilson, Nasri, Van Persie, Djourou, Bendtner.
Subs: Fabianski, Vela, Ramsey, Wilshere, Gibbs, Lansbury, Simpson.
A mistake from the Arsenal defence allowed Manchester City their first sight on goal. Ireland found the ball, just outside the Arsenal penalty area. Stevie then fed in Ireland who disobeyed the crowd`s chants to "shoot", and instead he laid the ball of to Zabaleta who failed to hit the target.
Is this game supposed to have two of the most entertaining teams in the premiership playing? Neither side could get anywhere near each other`s goal, until the 16th minute. Hoyte fouled Robinho down on the left-hand side. City then took the free-kick quickly and Robinho tested Almunia`s alertness, and forced the Arsenal captain to block his shot.
Another short phase of simply no action followed as both sets of Fans began to moan and groan about every loose ball, and to be honest, you wouldn`t think at this stage either side were playing in the top league in England. However City then had another half chance. Great work from Shaun Wright-Phillips and Vassell, produced a good ball into the box, and Benjani was unlucky not to reach the ball on the 6-yard box, as Silvestre managed to clear before the ball could reach City`s lone striker.
Arsenal then managed to produce something for the away fans to cheer about. A free-kick from Nasri, forced a fumbled save from Hart, who parried the ball straight to Bendtner who laid the ball off to Song but his shot dribbled wide of the goal. Benjani was then ruled offside when played through one-on-one by Stephen Ireland and straight after that chance; Benjani had his best chance of the game. City crossed the ball to the striker, who was free about 8 yards out, but his header went straight at Almunia.
The first 40 minutes in this game had to be the worst 40 minutes of football from any game in the premier league this year. Both teams were losing the ball on too many occasions, and looked nervous when trying to launch for an attack. However when you need a lift, who u going to call? Yes, our very own Superman.
A Mix up between Mikael Silvestre and Gael Clichy provided the ball straight to the Irishman, who punished the mistake and sent the home crowd into raptures. Could this be the goal this game needs? I think its come at the wrong time, as shortly after, the crowd and the players met the half-time whistle.
Half-time: Manchester City 1 Arsenal FC 0.
Arsenal started the better in the second half and went on the attack straight from the restart. Diaby managed to steam through the City defence but shot about a yard wide and then Bendtner looked to be in the ideal position to tap in a cross, but credit to Dunne who hustled him and managed to clear the ball, that`s better Dunne! Arsenal then had another chance, a Robert Van Persie free-kick bent around the wall and shaded the outside the post.
What`s the best form of defence? Yes, attack and Manchester City made the most of it. On the 58th minute they doubled their lead. Shaun Wright-Phillips won the ball inside his own half, before playing an absolute peach of a ball to Robinho, who simply flicked the ball over Almunia, Simply fantastic.
The Gunners however had a chance to peg the score back on the hour mark. The Pink footed Bendtner found his way into the box and shot straight at Joe Hart, who could only manage to feed him again, but Bendtner shot wide. City then went up the other end, and a cross by Kompany found Robinho`s head but his header flew wide of the post. This is entertaining football now!
Manchester City had the ball in the back of the net again. After good work from Ireland and Vassell, Robinho followed their blocked shots into the back of the net, but the goal was ruled out for offside. A close decision, but the ref looked to have got the decision wrong but City was still riding high. From this Arsenal worked their way up the field but Song`s shot fired wide again.
Elano then came on for Vassell, who is still feeling his way into the squad. Denilson then managed to lose the ball to Robinho who raced half the length of the pitch before rounding the keeper, but from a tight angle, his shot had to be more precise than powerful, and that allowed Djourou to get back and clear off the line.
However positive City where becoming in the second half, being City there was always going to be a negative. Robinho who was having a storming second half, limped off after appearing to injure himself after rounding the keeper. A possible three points and positive play will be spoiled if Robinho`s injury is deemed to be serious enough to keep him out next week`s derby day. Hamann came on for the Brazilian as City looked to hold onto their lead.
Robin Van Persie then thought he was being either clever or funny when he intercepted Hart`s routine drop-kick and volleyed the ball into the net, but whatever he thought; the Ref didn`t like it and chalked the goal off. It only took a minute for the Ref to be involved again but this time if was up the other end.
Daniel Sturridge brought on for Benjani, seemed to be going nowhere before clumsily being fouled by Djourou. The ref pointed to the spot and after a quiet confrontation between Elano and Sturridge, the English striker stepped up and placed the ball home. 3-0 to City, but im worried that the fact Elano did not take the penalty is just a further indication that there`s something going on behind the scene.
However I`m not an FBI, or some secret agent, so as the Final whistle blew, I was just happy that we were able to get back on track and record our first win in five games.
A story of two halves for this game. Both Arsenal and City looked dire in the first half, and it was just pure luck that gifted the only goal of the first half. Credit though to Ireland who is quickly becoming one of the best midfielders in the league. His finish was pure class. The Second half was mind blowing. Arsenals were lucky not to be completely demolished. Robinho produced another great show, and his goal was just magical! He could have had a hat-trick today before limping off, and we can all just hope that his injury is not serious, but more a precautionary measure. Elano managed to get 20 minutes of play under his belt but would be upset not to have taken the penalty.
Shaun Wright-Phillips, Stephen Ireland and Robinho are the future of City, and with more performances like the second half stint, we could be challenging Arsenal come the end of the season.