Monday, 25 October 2010

Report: Nasri clinical in Arsenal win at Manchester City

Manchester City v Arsenal
Premier League
At Eastlands

Heading into this game Arsenal needed three points to keep us in the title race. Lose and we would surely have been out, in sixth position and on 14 points.

But the victory propelled us into second position with just a five point gap between us and Chelsea.

The manner of this victory was encouraging as well. Against Chelsea earlier this month, for all our possession and goal scoring opportunities, we left Stamford Bridge with nothing.

At Eastlands we were clinical. Exactly what we needed to be to offer us any chance of winning the game.

For me yesterday there were five players who stood out and performed near to their best. Fabianski, Song, Fabregas, Nasri and Chamakh put in shifts they can be proud of.

The other six were good, but for me the five named were excellent.

And to the game. Arsene Wenger made three changes from the team which won 5-1 in the midweek Champions League fixture. The suspended Jack Wilshere was replaced by Denilson, the fit again Bacray Sagna came in for Emmanuel Eboue and Andrey Arshavin replaced Tomas Rosicky.

Abou Diaby had been due to start this match but was replaced by Denilson after picking up an ankle injury.

It was all Manchester City in the opening exchanges. The home side creating an early chance for David Silva. Carlos Tevez working the ball well down the right handside and out muscling Johan Djourou before crossing for the Spaniard whose neat back heal was heading goalbound before Fabianski got his right arm down low to block the ball just off the line.

Minutes later, Fabregas set Chamakh clean through on goal. Dedryck Boyata chased the Moroccan and mistimed his tackle on the edge of the area, chopping the striker down and preventing us taking a shot on goal.

As Boyata was the last man, the referee Mark Clattenburg had no choice but to send the player off. There really could be no arguments about the decision no matter how much the City players protested.

During the melee, Fabregas was scene waving imaginary cards, albeit behind the referee's back. Not something we need to see again please Cesc.

The resulting free kick came to nothing. Then the game became feisty with four of our players, Song, Denilson, Fabregas and Djourou  having their names taken by the referee in the opening 45 minutes.

A clear cut chance came in the 17th minute when Sagna's cross was turned over the bar by Djourou. I was thinking that moment could have been key. Prior to the game we all knew it was the fact we didn't take our chances against Chelsea that we failed to take anything from the game. This was one wasted opportunity which luckily didn't come back to haunt us.

Minutes later and we had the lead. Nasri exchanged passes with Arshavin and the Frechman wasn't tracked into the box. He delayed  his shot until Hart was comitted and powered home inside the goal keeper's near post.

It was a superb finish from a player who is having an excellent start to the season.

City had their chances though, coming into the game later into the half. Micah Richards might have done better after powering past Djourou before racing into the box and curling a shot just wide of Fabianski's far post.

It was the second time in the match the Swiss defender had been beaten in similar circumstances and was a worry that he could be got at like that.

Our bright passing created our next opportunity. Six minutes before half time, Fabregas was brought down inside the area. The referee awarded a penalty.
The captain stepped up and placed the ball to Hart's left. It was at the perfect height for the goalkeeper to make the save, which he did.

It was Arsenal's third penalty miss of the season. And I always thought we were so assured from the spot?

That moment could have galvanised the home team more than it did. They had two opportunities, a header for Kompany from a corner and Silva was well placed to shoot on goal but miscontrolled the ball at the vital moment and the chance was gone.

At the break it was 1-0 and Arsenal looked to push on in the second half to win this tie.

The home team brought off Toure for Wayne Bridge, then six minutes into the half Adebayor replaced the limping Tevez.

Twelve minutes into the half, Fabianski produced an excellent save from Silva to keep Arsenal in front. The keeper diving to his right to stop the ball heading into his far corner.

Minutes later Adebayor missed his opportunity to score, when Fabianski missed a punch. He had an open goal but put his header over the top.

Arsenal needed a goal to make sure of this result and it was in the 65th minute when man of the match Nasri combinded well with Fabregas for the captain to lay a ball into the box for Chamakh. Bridge got a toe to the ball which diverted it towards Alex Song. 

The midfield man swung his foot at it and his shot beat Hart for Arsenal to double their lead. Surely game over?

Not with this Arsenal side who had conceded in every away league fixture since the turn of the year.

Fabianski was called into action shortly after our goal with a superb stop to deny Adebayor's header. Neither knew the Togolese striker was off side at the time.

Wenger brought on Rosicky for Arshavin and as the game rolled into its closing period, Walcott and Bendtner came off the bench for Fabregas and Chamakh.

It was two mintues from time when good work from Nasri to chase a ball going out of play created our third.

His through pass to Bendtner split the defence and the striker's cool first touch allowed him to race past the City defence and add Arsenal's third.

Game over. 3-0. No more than Arsenal deserved. And a clean sheet to boot!

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