Yes an away win, finally against one of the top 3 clubs. Arsenal’s first win at City since October 2010 halted City’s 12 game unbeaten league run. Arsenal finally came up with a Plan B, sat back and defended enmasse and when they got a chance they counter-attacked in style and came out deserved winners. Santi Cazorla scored a goal and created another as Arsenal ended Manchester City’s 12-match unbeaten league run and damaged their title hopes. Spain playmaker Cazorla converted a first-half penalty after Vincent Kompany fouled Nacho Monreal. Arsenal added a second after the break when Cazorla’s free-kick picked out Olivier Giroud and the France striker headed in from close range.
The result left City five points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea. At Etihad Stadium on Sunday, it seemed that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger finally realised he cannot play his usual open style of attacking football when his team are away from home against the best teams in the Premier League. Instead, the Gunners were set up to defend and keep a clean sheet. Right from the start, there were times when all 11 of their players were defending deep in City’s half. Chile forward Sanchez, who has scored 12 goals for Arsene Wenger’s side this season, was well shackled by the City defence. Instead it was Cazorla, 30, who was the game’s outstanding attacking player and it was fitting that he was to have such an influential role with both goals.
Monreal played a one-two with Giroud and the Spain left-back went down after his run was blocked by Kompany, who looked rusty in his first match since 13 December having recovered from a hamstring injury. Cazorla sent the spot-kick low to Joe Hart’s left and even though the City goalkeeper dived the correct way he was unable to get a hand on it. Despite City’s pressure, it was Wenger’s side who scored next when Cazorla lifted a free-kick into the penalty area and Giroud escaped his marker and took advantage of a disorganised City defence to head past Hart.
This was a game in which the defense was brilliant with Bellerin & Monreal in particular who deserve plaudits but Per Mertesacker & Laurent Koscielny were solid as well. But Francis Coquelin who has been solid & impressive since rejoining Arsenalafter a loan spell at Charlton, showed us (and I hope Wenger too) just what we can do with a good defensive/holding midfielder playing just in front of the back four. How we have needed that so badly in the last couple of years and what a difference it makes. Carzola was Man of the match for me by Coquelin was a close second.