VIDEO Arsenal 1-1 Manchester City: Highlights; Flamini Goal Restores Gunners’ Pride But Can’t Reignite Title Chances

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Mathieu Flamini
Mathieu Flamini celebrates pulling Arsenal level against Manchester City.

After a disastrous week, Arsenal produced a determined display but ultimately failed to get a win to reignite their Premier League title hopes as Manchester City remained on course to be crowned champions.

Despite dropping five points in their last two matches, the news of Chelsea’s shock defeat earlier in the day had given Arsenal renewed hope that they could yet end their wait for the title this season. A win was a prerequisite against City at the Emirates, but things again got off to a poor start when David Silva finished from close range in the 18th minute. To their credit, on this occasion Arsenal regrouped and showed plenty of resolve to get back into the game and grab a deserved equalizer courtesy of the man who embodied their greater tenacity, Mathieu Flamini.

Chelsea’s defeat had also greatly strengthened City’s position in the title race and Manuel Pellegrini appeared willing to settle for a point that means that City remain in third, but with a game in hand on Liverpool and two on Manchester City. Liverpool may have been the biggest winners of the day, but the destination of the title remains in City’s hands. As for Arsenal, pride has been restored, and confidence, too. Yet with three points separating them and City and having played two games more, their hopes have surely now gone.

After a disastrous week, Arsenal produced a determined display but ultimately failed to get a win to reignite their Premier League title hopes as Manchester City remained on course to be crowned champions.

Despite dropping five points in their last two matches, the news of Chelsea’s shock defeat earlier in the day had given Arsenal renewed hope that they could yet end their wait for the title this season. A win was a prerequisite against City at the Emirates, but things again got off to a poor start when David Silva finished from close range in the 18th minute. To their credit, on this occasion Arsenal regrouped and showed plenty of resolve to get back into the game and grab a deserved equalizer courtesy of the man who embodied their greater tenacity, Mathieu Flamini.

Chelsea’s defeat had also greatly strengthened City’s position in the title race and Manuel Pellegrini certainly appeared willing to settle for a point that means that City remain in third, but with a game in hand on Liverpool and two on Manchester City. Liverpool may have been the biggest winners of the day but the destination of the title remains in City’s hands. As for Arsenal, pride has been restored, and confidence, too. Yet with three points separating them and City and having played two games more, their hopes have surely now gone.

Unlike at Stamford Bridge, and indeed against City earlier in the season, Arsenal this time avoided falling behind in the first 15 minutes. But there were still obvious signs of vulnerability. Lukas Podolski has never been the most diligent in tracking back and with Jesus Navas staying out wide on the right, Pablo Zabaleta going forward and David Silva drifting across to that side of the pitch, too, Kieran Gibbs was left woefully short-handed.

In the opening couple of minutes alone, Zabaleta wasted a good opening with a poor pull-back, while Navas curled just over the bar. There was little surprise then that it was Arsenal’s weakness down their left flank that led to City taking the lead. As happened repeatedly against Chelsea, the goal came after Arsenal cheaply conceded possession. Podolski further blotted his copy book by giving the ball away, and Silva intelligently broke into the space vacated in the inside right channel before, with Navas running outside him to create space, he cut inside and found Edin Dzeko. The striker’s shot was helped onto the post by Wojciech Szczesny only to come back into the path of Silva, who scuffed the ball over the line.

Unlike so often this season, Arsenal this time didn’t crumble after falling behind. Instead they solidified and, inspired by the work rate of Flamini, pressed City far better. Yet, having laid a foundation, they posed very little threat going forward in the first half. The absence of the likes of Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey was keenly felt, with Arsenal having startlingly little pace going forward to run in behind and consequently leaving Olivier Giroud an ineffectual figure.

And Arsenal could have fallen further behind at the start of the second half. Navas went past Gibbs and whipped in a dangerous near-post cross that Szczesny got a hand to ahead of Dzeko but helped it straight against Per Mertesacker, who was fortunate not to be the scorer of Arsenal’s second own goal in a week.

Yet it was Arsenal who were on top for much of the second half. With better possession, Arsene Wenger’s men were pushing higher up the pitch and applying some real pressure to the City backline for the first time. Flamini was not only proving key without the ball but was also the man willing to take a chance of breaking forward to support Giroud. That boldness paid off handsomely to get Arsenal back on level terms eight minutes after the interval. Following a nice move across the City box, Podolski found space on the left and struck a fine cross that, helped by a slip by Fernandinho, found the run of Flamini, which went untracked by Yaya Toure, and the midfielder produced a controlled finish by Joe Hart.

For a spell after the goal Arsenal continued to look dangerous. Bacary Sagna’s inviting cross failed to be gambled on by Giroud, before Podolski was found in a position where his hammer of a left foot would normally see the ball end up in the net, but Hart produced a fine save at his near post.

Ever since going in front City had been fairly controlled and passive in their performance. The knowledge that taking a point from one of their most difficult remaining fixtures wasn’t all that bad a result seemed to loom large in City’s minds. Although Fernandinho fired a shot that was helped over by Szczesny while a scramble in the box ended with Dzeko firing wide late on, the final whistle blew with City the happier of the two sides.

 

Arsenal 1-1 Manchester City All Goals by all-goals

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