Manchester City 0 Arsenal 2
( Cazorla 23 pen, Giroud 66 )

Arsenal, a much more disciplined and defence minded Arsenal, and one capable of flair and devastating finishing combined to get it all right and do an emphatic job on Manchester City. Santi Cazorla was magnificent in a more central role. It was the mercurial midfielder who struck the penalty to give the Gunners a first half lead, and it was Cazorla again whose precise free kick caused panic in the City rearguard as Giroud kept his eye of the ball to head past Joe Hart. Intelligent and measured, Arsenal may have enjoyed a mere 35 per cent possession, but perhaps finally with a job in mind, the Gunners were professionalism personified shutting out City, with the tenacious Francis Coquelin reminding Arsene Wenger of the midfield steel that has been missing of late.

” What was very pleasing was the manner in which we played because we were compact, disciplined and focused. We had a good defensive urgency and every time we won the ball we came out from the back with good pace,” noted Wenger.

“You could always see that when we won the ball, if the first two passes were right, we would be dangerous. Especially in the second half, Aaron( Ramsey) had two chances and even in the first half we had plenty of opportunities.

” Let’s take the positives from that result, the urgency and the confidence levels. It’s always difficult to get that mixture right between being focused, confident and relaxed without losing the needed desire.

“The only regret we had was that we didn’t take advantage of many dangerous situations to finish the game off earlier, but overall I think we did very well, ” he continued.
The win lifts the Gunners into fifth place, one point off a Champions League place, but more than that, it re- instills the belief that this side is capable of winning nowhere

The early omens were good when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain eased past former team mate Gael Clichy to cross for Giroud who swooped to head just wide of the target. Midway through the first half, Nacho Monreal’s attempt to collect a return pass from Giroud ended with Vincent Kompany’s clumsy block on Monreal.

To City’s disbelief, referee Mike Dean pointed straight to the penalty spot. Up stepped Cazorla who struck his shot with power, and although Hart guessed correctly, his next move was to pick the ball out of his net.

City passed the ball well, but were up against a resolute line of defence, with Coquelin’s intelligent stationing breaking up their attacks.

Jesus Navas warmed the hands of David Ospina in the 51st minute as the home side began to threaten. They had to be wary of not only Cazorla’s movement, but Alexis Sanchez too, who attracted his own blue army guard whenever he strode forwards. On one occasion, and a clever shape and move away from Pablo Zabaleta confirmed City’s fears. Arsenal were in the mood.

Giroud and Sanchez combined to set up Aaron Ramsey who fired just high of Hart’s goal. On the hour mark, Navas worked a cross which seemed destined to find a City boot, but Sergio Aguerro couldn’t make the final contact.

When the Gunners won a free kick soon after, Cazorla lifted the ball into the danger zone. Sanchez and Giroud saw the flight of the ball, and it was left to the France striker head past a statuesque Hart for a 2-0 scoreline.

Sanchez threatened a third Arsenal goal, but Hart palmed his shot away with Hector Bellerin unable to follow up. Navas and Jovetic had late City chances, but Ospina was not to beaten and recorded his second consecutive clean sheet. Arsenal had Mesut Özil amongst a strong subs bench, but on this form Cazorla has too play.

He said
” We played very well and we defended strongly. When we defend like that, we have many chances to win games. They have so many top players – Silva and Aguero – so we needed to play together in defence and play on the counter-attack. I think today (we showed) a very good spirit. When I take a penalty, I only think to score. The most important thing is to help the team.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Ramsey who was pleased to be back and to see Cazorla in such inspired form.

“Santi’s a little magician on the pitch. You saw him out there so many times, how he wriggles out of certain situations, and he had a very good game. We’re delighted for him and hopefully he can continue his form as well.

“It was obviously a good game for us. We defended really well as a team.We were really hard to break down and we took our chances when we needed to, so it was a very complete performance today.”
More of the same intelligent and measured when the game dictates for the remainder f the season, and Arsenal may yet have a say come May.