Manchester City 2 Arsenal 2
Aguero 8, De Bruyne 51, Giroud 10, Alexis 68

Arsenal produced the kind of resilience when it mattered as they twice came back from going a goal down to claim a valuable point against Manchester City at the Etihad stadium. In a week which saw the hosts knocked out at the semi-finals of the Champions League at Real Madrid, any thoughts that City would be feeling sorry for themselves were dashed with a strong opening from the home side which saw Sergio Aguero open the scoring after eight minutes. Olivier Giroud  then levelled with his first goal since January. The hosts went 2-1 up after a good burst from Kevin De Bruyne, but you never felt that City were in command. In fact, the Gunners opened a few salvos of their own,  threatening Joe Hart’s goal, until Alexis Sanchez fired in the second Arsenal leveller after some strong hold up play from Giroud. The Gunners are now back on track for a top three finish, but their hosts will have to rely on results elsewhere if they are to pip rivals Manchester United to a fourth placed finish. Danny Welbeck came off after a knee injury when coming up against former Gunner Bacary Sagna, and that gave Jack Wilshere the chance to add to his six minutes of game time at the stadium of Light.

Welbeck could face a return spell on the sidelines, with his chance of going to Euro 2016 with England now in doubt. It was Mesut Oil’s hip injury which enabled Arsene Wenger to select Welbeck, with Gabriel coming in for the injured Per Mertersacker. After three seasons in charge of Manchester City, Manuel Pellegrini was presiding in charge for that final time, with Pep Guardiola coming to the Etihad next season. Will the former Barcelona and soon to be former Bayern Munich coach take over a team in next season’s Champions League, or will he have to sit out of Europe’s top flight competition for a shot at the Europa League? That question had not been factored in for the Guardiola move as City thought Champions League were presumed to be a given.

 

Arsenal are of course familiar with that exact scenario and under pressure Wenger is determined to have a 19th consecutive Champions League campaign. Unlike the Brexit campaign, he would dearly love to stay in Europe and go one better than his side of 2006 who almost achieved that fete with ten men in Paris against Barcelona.

Aguero had seen his lively start almost give City an earlier lead, but he fired across goal as the Gunners’ defence struggled early on. That would be the warning which Arsenal didn’t heed. Jesus Navas clipped his pass for Fernando to knock back to Aguero and the Argentine hit low to beat Petr Cech. Arsenal responded in positive fashion. Giroufd sent over a cross which Gael Clichy attempted to head back to Hart, but almost gave away an own goal, as he and City were relieved to see the ball squirm just wide of the post for a corner.

 

That relief was short lived as Mohamed Elneny’s corner was met with Giroud’s thumping header for the leveller and his first goal in fifteen games Giroud managed to evade the attentions of Mangala as Arsenal struck back immediately. City went close before the break, with Aguero denied by Gabriel’s defected clearance when it seemed odds on that the Argentine would double his and City’s tally.

Welbeck had been tracking back well for his defensive duties, and it was when he tried to halt Sagna, that he caught his right knee. Having gone down in a heap, Welbeck’s reaction suggested that he knew this may be a bad injury, his manager however later preferred to wait for the scan. No matter now, as on came Wilshere, and his initial deft touch and movement showed Arsenal fans what they have been missing.

City were just getting on with their task at hand and when Cech came out as Aguero broke, the ball caught his standing leg as he collapsed having rushed out off his line. Laurent Koscielny was on hand to steer the danger away, but Navas did eventually get his shot away, but it flew high over the bar.

Six minutes after the re-start and City re-took the lead. De Bruyne came away after a poor attempt to win the ball by Hector Bellerin. Elneny was unable to keep up with the Belgian as  he raced away, and as Koscielny backed off, De Bruyne struck a low venomous drive which fizzed off the surface to beat Cech to give City the lead again.

Arsenal responded once again. Substitute Theo Walcottt  was slipped in by Ramsey after some good build up play from Elneny.. With only Hart to beat, Walcott lifted the ball over the England ‘ keeper, but agonisingly for the travelling supporters behind that goal, the ball fell just wide of the upright.

Deep in his own half, Wilshere started the move that lead to Arsenal’s second leveller of the afternoon. Alexis took possession from Nacho Monreal and motored through the gears. As the City blue shirts tried to crowd him out, Alexis passed to Giroud, and as he held off Mangela, the France striker put in Alexis with a return which the Chilean raced onto before despatching the ball past Hart for a 2-2 scoreline.

A swift move involving City goal scorers De Bruyne and Aguero saw the latter strike marginally wide of Cech’s upright. Substitute Wilfired Bony then struck the bar as City went for the win, but Arsenal claimed a point that will see them in next years Champions League. City are left anxiously hoping that either West Ham or Bournemouth can do them a favour when both sides come up against United. For Arsenal, a final Premier League game at the Emirates against relegated Aston Villa should mean that Wenger will end the season with a vital three points, even if the silverware will be claimed elsewhere.