Arsenal showed plenty of desire in their English Premier League clash against Manchester City, holding their fancied opponents to a thrilling 2-2 draw on Sunday in a game which had plenty of talking points.
The Gunners were the underdogs for this fixture, having lost three of their last four games and having slipped out of the Champions League places, the pressure was well and truly on them.
Arsene Wenger decided to opt for Danny Welbeck as the lone striker and with Mesut Ozil fit again, the home side had a pacy feel to them as Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez were on either wing. Wenger’s first choice goalkeeper, Peter Cech, was unavailable so in his stead David Opsina was given the nod between the sticks.
City manager Pep Guardiola was forced to start defensive midfielder Fernandinho at right-back after Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna both were deemed unfit to start, but apart from that City fielded their typical XI.
And they got off to a blistering start, with the red-hot Leroy Sane rounding Ospina in the 5th minute to give the visitors the lead. Kevin de Bruyne’s pin-point through ball had split Arsenal’s defence open and a hush fell over the Emirates as the worst was feared.
City continued to dominate and De Bruyne in particular, was unlucky as twice his shot came off the post, with Arsenal continuing to ride their luck.
The first-half’s major talking point came when Walcott went in with his studs up straight on Fernandinho but somehow match referee Andre Marriner didn't blow his whistle for a foul, let alone a red card. To add insult to injury for City, Walcott would score a scrappy equaliser in the 40th minute after some typically poor defending from Guardiola’s men. Replays suggested that the speedy winger was lucky to be on the pitch and retrospective action will surely be initiated by the FA in the next few days.
Sergio Aguero responded within two minutes to restore City’s lead, finishing well from an acute angle as the Gunners seemed to be unable to hold till the interval.
Both managers made changes at half-time, with Yaya Toure coming on for Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Paulista replacing Laurent Koscieny.
City seemed to be a little sluggish in the opening period of the second half and paid for it dearly when Skhodran Mustafi rose high to head home a Mesut Ozil corner in the 53rd minute. John Stones was charged with marking the German at the set-piece but as has been the case on many occasions this season, the Englishman was brushed off by an physically superior opponent.
The game then petered out, with both sides creating few chances in the final half-hour and while the result was not ideal for both clubs, they will have to accept it and move on.
City, in particular cannot ponder about the points dropped, with a trip to Premier League leaders Chelsea on Wednesday looming large on the horizon. They drop to fourth place, a point behind Liverpool but have played a game less.
For sixth-placed Arsenal, there are plenty of positives to take from the game but time is running out if they are to get back in the top four and a result against derby rivals West Ham United on Wednesday is a must.