Arsenal 2 Manchester City 1
( Walcott 33, Giroud 45, Toure 82 )

Arsenal sent a strong message of intent to the rest of the Premier League, and a strong performance too against a spirited late come back from Manchester City to grab all three points at the Emirates stadium on Monday night. Theo Walcott’s 20 yard stunner gave the Gunners the lead, and with some neat play on the stroke of half time, Olivier Giroud struck to double that lead. Both assists came courtesy of Mesut Ozil who now has 15 to his name so far this season. If anyone thought that would be it, then they would be very much mistaken, as Yaya Toure’s seemingly effortless curler deceived Petr Cech to halve the Gunners advantage eight minutes from time. The highly charged energy sapping affair was now on a knife edge, but some brave defending with one interception from Per Mertersacker as Kevin De Bryne charged in, ensured that Arsenal won their third consecutive Premier League fixture.

Arsene Wenger sent out the same side for the third consecutive Premier League game, with Joel Campbell being preferred to the fit again Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and it would soon become evident why Wenger made that selection. The Costa Rica striker was super charged and effectively charging in attack and defence for the good of the team in a way which we have rarely seen from a front player. Such was Campbell’s energetic bursts that Giroud took note and did likewise.

In an almost non-descript opening, both sides jostled, tested and prodded, and it was City who would have the first sighter on goal. Kevin De Bruyne had a run and shot which forced a save from Petr Cech a move created when Laurent Koscielny lost possession to Sergio Aguero. When the Gunners fired back, Ozil saw his progress impeded with a trip by Aleksandar Kolarov as City were being threatened by a swift counter attack.

Just past the half hour mark, De Bryne latched onto a clever Aguero flick on. Cech was exposed, but having narrowed the angle, De Bryne struck just wide of the target. It was a huge City miss, as with their next move, Arsenal took the lead.

Koscielny’s ball out, found Ozil. His swift pass to Walcott allowed the England man to take a touch before unleashing from from 20 yards out, to fire in past Joe Hart. City manager Manuel Pellegrini later described it as ” a beautiful goal.” The England keeper’s disappointment however was obvious. City tried to regroup but Arsenal were not in any compromising mood towards their visitors. In first half time added on, Giroud doubled his side’s lead.

Vincent Kompany’s absence has been a huge loss to City’s defence, with Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otemendi entrusted to keep the Gunners at bay. Mangala’s desperate attempt to clear out with half time approaching would, cost his side dearly.

The ball fell to Walcott who fed Ozil on the left. The German swept the ball into Giroud’s path and the France striker’s low left footed drive went through Hart’s legs and into his net. The Emirates faithful erupted in collective celebration at a 2-0 half time lead.

Ozil was having one of those influential games that suggest that he has put aside earlier ‘off ‘ games. He picked put Nacho Monreal who then found Campbell, but his shot was always rising over Hart’s bar

Aguero had a header which Cech had to deal with from Kolarov’s cross and Arsenal replied with Giroud who was denied by a last ditch tackle by Otamendi.

Two goals behind and now City started to play some of their better football. The Arsenal defensive line had to remain focused and hold a firm line to catch Aguero offside.

Aaron Ramsey was again tasked with a central midfield role along the industrious Mathieu Flamini, and the former Wales captain created a gilt edged chance for Campbell who was only denied by Hart spreading himself to deny an Arsenal third goal. Moments later and Hart again denied Campbell to save with his legs, under pressure from Kolarov’s retrieving presence.

It was excellent football from Campbell who next slalomed through the City rearguard only to be impeded by Otamendi’s challenge. Replays suggested that Campbell was caught by the Argentine, but referee Andre Marriner didn’t point to the penalty spot but waved play on.

With substitutes Raheeem Sterling and Jesus Navas now giving City pace on both sides, Arsenal were having to cope with a sustained period of pressure. Cech held Wilfried Bony’s header, and Navas almost stole in, but then handled the ball as he was stopped.

High stamina levels were being called for, but with City desperately searching for a goal, that would always be challenging. Almost out of nothing, Toure exchanged a sequence of passes and suddenly Cech was having to remove the ball out of his net after an exquisite strike. The City goal was quality of the highest order, and Arsenal were rocked at City’s first away goal in four games.

Ramsey almost gave an instant response but shot wide of target, and at the other end, only Mertersacker’s block denied De Bryne as he bore down on Cech’s goal. It was late City pressure, that had the Arsenal defence panicked. Toure played a one two with De Bruyne but slipped his shot wide of Cech’s upright. Giroud’s defensive block on Otamendi showed how much the Gunners wanted the win, and they duly held out to record a famous win over their title rivals.