Arsenal 0 Manchester City 2

The disappointment will be felt not only from the loss, but also for the manner of the Arsenal performance, or rather the lack of it. On the back of a five game unbeaten run, much was anticipated from the Gunners, but having Laurent Koscielny sent off inside ten minutes would always present a tall order against a Manchester City side who were also reduced to ten men when Vincent Kompany was shown a straight red card for clattering into Jack Wilshere after 74 minutes. Arsenal now find themselves a massive 21 points off the top, and with the real chance of their season imploding in front of their very eyes.

Wenger furious at 'timid' Arsenal - Listen

 

The good news? Well there isn’t that much, but lets get that out of the way first. Abou Diaby made his first start in three and a half months, and reassured the midfield of his presence and need. Substituted just after the hour mark and without any sign of further knock back will represent something of a victory for a player so afflicted with long absences from injury. Wilshere too reminded us of what the Gunners are capable off, and with James Milner and Gareth Barry getting yellow carded for challenges on the Arsenal number 10, City’s intentions were made quite clear, as Kompany was to testify with horrible effect.

Any side shorn of a player within ten minutes will struggle, and referee Mike Dean’s decision to give Koscielny his marching orders for grappling with Edin Dzeko was a controversial one, and ruined the game as a spectacle.Naturally City didn’t complain, but from the resultant spot kick, Wojciech Szczesny got enough on the ball to see it hit the post, travel against the length of the line,before ending up in the grateful arms of the Arsenal ‘ keeper.

With the sending off, Arsene Wenger was forced to withdraw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and bring on Per Mertersacker to shore up the defence. Midway through the first half, City took the lead. The Gunners went to sleep to a City free- kick from David Silva, that Carlos Tevez then fed to Milner to hook home unchallenged for the games’ opener. It was the defensive organisation of the madhouse and not what was expected.

We awaited an Arsenal response, but with a one player advantage, City just passed the ball at pace and with precision. Javi Garcia had been lucky to escape the referees attention as he appeared to rake Wilshere’s calf with his studs, but in this mood the official was never likely to call the foul in any case.

City doubled their advantage after 32 minutes. Dzeko scored perhaps the easiest goal that he is ever likely to. Milner raced away on the right, found Tevez, who saw his shot parried by Szczesny, but into the path of the Bosnian striker to apply the easiest of finishes.

Arsenal lacked momentum, creativity and it must be said leadership too. Faced with adversity, the Gunners have been found wanting, and that will be of concern to captain Thomas Vermaelen and Wenger too.

It was to be a full 35 minutes before Joe Hart was called into action. Santi Cazorla found Diaby to pass to Lukas Podolski, but the German’s shot was too close to the City ‘keeper. If anything City should have grabbed a third before the break, had Wilshere not headed Garcia’s header off the line.

Two goals down at the break, and a reaction was needed. The Gunners had the intention of doing just that, but City knew that they could hold what they had. Wenger brought on Olivier Giroud for Podolski after 57 minutes, but despite being down to ten men,he and Theo Walcott had two chances that could have changed the result.

Szczesny had kept the scoreline to 2-0 with a fine low save at the feet of Tevez after a quick counter attack after 72 minutes. Two minutes later, City saw their captain red carded. Kompany dived in feet first on Wilshere, and Dean gave Kompany his marching orders.

Ten men each with 16 minutes on the clock, but Arsenal could still not form a real response. However, Giroud headed over from Cazorla’s free-kick, when unmarked, and substitute Joleon Lescott then cleared off the line from Walcott, the Arsenal striker’s sole effort on target.

In such circumstances, these chances should be taken, but Arsenal must now regroup and respond with the FA Cup 3rd round replay against Swansea on Wednesdsy, followed by a trip to Stamford Bridge next Sunday.

Wenger’s frustration was evident, and further compounded with the news that Mikel Arteta will be out for three weeks with a calf injury.