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    Report - Man City Vs Arsenal

    Raheem Sterling scored the most important goal of the season for Manchester City, as they came from behind to inflict a second league defeat inside a week for Arsene Wenger’s side.

    Just one change for Arsenal leading into the clash at the Etihad, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain making way for Alex Iwobi as Wenger looked to sharpen up his midfield. A serious injury to Ilkay Gundogan in the 2-0 win over Watford in midweek led Pep Guardiola to make an enforced change in the City engine room, Fernando his replacement. Leroy Sané was preferred over Nolito in the other City change.

    Pre-match discussion and fears surrounding that fragile City defence turned to reality after just 5 first half minutes, as the City back four couldn’t deal with the invention of Alexis Sanchez, who found the on rushing Theo Walcott with a perfectly weighted reverse pass. The England international made no mistake with the finish, slotting under Claudio Bravo. Guardiola and the City faithful will be disappointed with the goal though, as their defence seemed to be at odds with each other, culminating in Nicolas Otamendi being shamefully out of position as Sanchez’s deft through ball found the feet of Walcott.

    The early goal seemed to spark City into carving out some chances of their own, and less than three minutes later, the tie could have been level. Kevin De Bruyne found space wide on the left flank and sent in a sumptuous cross with that laser guided right foot, only for Raheem Sterling to head wide of Petr Cech’s near post. The only effort on target for the blues in the first half however, came from the resurrected Yaya Toure, who headed into the hands of Cech just before the half time whistle.

    At half time, there was another battle that was brewing, the battle of tactics between the two managers. One that was comprehensively won by Pep Guardiola. A subtle change in attack for City at the break saw De Bruyne exchange places with Sterling, and it was the latter who charged forward at pace two minutes into the second half, when his pass to David Silva gave the Spaniard the chance to send a lofted through ball to the lightning quick Leroy Sané, who finished first time brilliantly passed Cech. The flag (correctly) staying down as Sane stayed just on the right side of Laurent Koscielny.

    Sané’s first ever goal for City changed the entire complexion of the game, as Yaya Toure and David Silva took total control of the contest. For the entire second half, City challenged and pressed every ball and won every 50/50. Arsenal simply didn’t look up for it after City’s equaliser, a trait Arsene Wenger will want to put right if they are to challenge for their first title in over a decade. As City pressed for a deserved winner, Arsenal couldn’t get out of their own half as the blues were attacking on both flanks through Sane and Sterling, with the majestic David Silva and the craft of Kevin De Bruyne through the middle.

    The pressure soon paid off on 71 minutes as a simply stunning cross-field pass from De Bruyne found Sterling in plenty of space, the speedy forward checked inside then out of Nacho Monreal before drilling a powerful effort past Cech’s near post. There was some question as to whether David Silva was stood in an offside position, but Cech himself cleared that up in his post match interview, ‘he didn’t put me off’, that’s that then!

    The excellent Leroy Sané was replaced by Jesus Navas as the game neared its end. It could have been more for City though, as the substitute found De Bruyne in the box, his chip could only find the post from close range.

    Arsenal couldn’t muster a chance of any note in the second half, and City hung on for an important home win, one which they may not have expected before today, with big names such as Aguero, Fernandinho, Gundogan and captain Vincent Kompany all missing through suspension/injury. For City, this could be the win that sees them recapture the form they displayed earlier in the season and enable them to keep in the hunt for the Premier League title. For Arsenal, it’s the ‘same old, same old’ scenario, they were comfortable without really doing much in the first half, when City pilled on the pressure in the second, they were no match.

    Player Ratings

    Man of the Match – Raheem Sterling

    Man City: Bravo (6), Kolarov (7), Zabaleta (6), Otamendi (7), Clichy (7), Fernando (8), Sterling (9), De Bruyne (9), Sané (8), Silva (8), Toure (8).

    Used Subs: Sagna (6), Navas (6), Iheanacho (6)

    Arsenal: Cech (5), Bellerin (6), Gabriel (7), Koscielny (6), Monreal (5), Coquelin (6), Xhaka (6), Walcott (7), Ozil (4), Iwobi (5), Sanchez (8).

    Used Subs: Giroud (5), Oxlade Chamberlain (4)

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    Item Reviewed: Report - Man City Vs Arsenal Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stuart Manifould
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