Premier League: Arsenal overcome away-day jinx to beat Manchester City 2-0 at the Etihad
By Jack Wilkinson
Last Updated: 19/01/15 10:05am
Arsenal dealt Manchester City’s Premier League title hopes a big blow after a deserved 2-0 victory at the Etihad Stadium.
Goals in either half from Santi Cazorla, who converted from the spot after Vincent Kompany’s foul on Nacho Monreal, and Olivier Giroud, who headed home 20 minutes after the break, inflicted City’s third defeat of the season.
Cazorla made no mistake from the spot in the 24th minute; forcefully placing the ball high to Joe Hart’s left after Kompany collided with Monreal as he tried to latch onto Giroud’s one-two.
City, who went into the match on a 12-game unbeaten run in the league, pushed for an equaliser in the first half but fell short as the Gunners produced a disciplined and resilient defensive display which the champions struggled to deal with.
A frantic start to the second period saw City create a number of chances but it was the visitors who struck to secure the points.
Man of the match Cazorla delivered a free kick into the box for Giroud, who, after capitalising on Fernando's lapse in concentration, nodded past Hart from six yards.
The result sees the Gunners move up to fifth in the table, a point adrift of fourth-placed Manchester United, while City remain second, five points off leaders Chelsea.
The focus before the game was on the return of Sergio Aguero and Kompany, who both came back from lengthy injury-induced spells on the touchline.
But it was the man who has orchestrated City’s recent rise toward the top of the table, David Silva, who made an impact early on, dancing his way through the Arsenal defence in the opening exchanges.
After weathering an early onslaught, the Gunners sat deep and afforded their opponents little space to develop attacks. Instead, City enjoyed a large amount of possession high inside their half which allowed Arsenal to counter.
Alexis Sanchez raced towards the City goal in one attack moments before Giroud spurned a great chance to open the scoring on 18 minutes.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was fond on the right and whipped an enticing ball in the near-post area, where the Frenchman’s header appeared destined for the back of the net but was deflected out by Kompany.
The deadlock was broken just five minutes later, however, as Kompany, who was making his first league appearance since December 13, was penalised for a clumsy challenge on Monreal.
Arsenal broke with intent before the left-back played a one-two with Giroud. As it appeared the left-back had got in behind the City defence, Kompany stepped into his path and Mike Dean had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Cazorla calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net, and the Gunners were well worth their lead as City struggled to create clear-cut opportunities to reduce the deficit.
Jesus Navas broke on the stroke of half time but Francis Coquelin’s intervention to first tackle the Spaniard and then rise highest to head away the resulting corner typified the Arsenal performance.
Manuel Pellegrini brought on Stevan Jovetic at half time to bolster his attacking options, and it appeared to pay off as the hosts saw an effort from Aguero well saved by David Ospina before the change in tactics drew Arsenal out from their deep defensive position.
With the game open, Silva began to dictate things in the middle of the park, notably his pass to Navas for his cross across the face off goal which looked destined for the back of the net had Laurent Koscielny not got a toe on the ball.
Frank Lampard was introduced on the hour but City failed to create clear openings and they were punished minutes later as Giroud exploited some poor marking from the home side.
Cazorla added an assist to his earlier strike with a perfectly-weighted ball into the area, where Giroud was on hand to convert, unchallenged, past Hart from close range.
As they had with the first goal, City rallied but couldn’t quite get back into the game as late efforts from Jovetic and substitute Edin Dzeko were blocked and missed the target.
Arsenal had several chances to make it three in the closing stages but the result was in hand as City lost in the league for the first time since October.
Manchester City: Hart (6), Zabaleta (6), Kompany (5), Demichelis (5), Clichy (5), Fernandinho (5), Fernando (5), Navas (6), Silva (7), Milner (4), Aguero (6).
Used subs: Dzeko (4), Lampard (5), Jovetic (6).
Arsenal: Ospina (7), Bellerin (6), Mertesacker (6), Koscielny (6), Monreal (7), Ramsey (7), Coquelin (8), Oxlade-Chamberlain (7), Cazorla (9), Sanchez (8), Giroud (7).
Used subs: Gibbs (5), Rosicky (4), Flamini (4).
Man of the Match: Santi Cazorla