Just one goal didn’t make the Manchester City – Arsenal affair any less enjoyable, as Roberto Mancini’s men were the first team to beat Arsenal in over two months in the Premier League, as David Silva’s rebound off a rebound effort was just enough to put City back on the top of the league, two points over United, with a 1-0 lead.
Before the Christmas marathons begins, Manchester City proved that the loss at Chelsea and the Champions League exit isn’t some sort of crisis. They were better than Arsenal for most of the 90 minutes, keeping Szczesny busy in one of his finest performances for the Gunners. Alas, it wasn’t enough.
Johan Djourou’s early exit changed Arsenal’s formation and plans. Mario Balotelli took advantage of Alex Song’s inexperience at right back, creating the shot that eventually landed at a launching David Silva, scoring what eventually became the winner.
The key for City was denying Robin van Persie from breaking loose. Keeping him unable to create a comfortable angle for his left, forcing him to feed and let others try and score. It failed. Gervinho, Andrei Arshavin and a couple of fantastic Thomas Vermaelen shots couldn’t beat Joe Hart in an impressive performance. It was the first time City kept a clean sheet in the league since October.
Theo Walcott? He was hardly noticeable, like in many big matches the young forward tends to disappear from. Robin van Persie maybe the best striker in the Premier League, but he can’t carry Arsenal alone against the cream of the crop, who executed their defensive game plan very well.
It’s a two horse, Manchester race, till the end. City have a two point lead on Manchester United with the Christmas schedule approaching. Things can change quickly with so many games in a short time, and keeping players healthy and managing the rotations becomes the most important thing for two weeks. City will have further problems later on, as Yaya Toure will leave to play in the African Nations Cup.