Machester City sent Arsenal to their fifth defeat of the season to rub further salt in the Gunners’ wounds. Stephen Ireland (45+2) opened the scoring rather fortuitously after a sliced clearance from Clichy fell to his path. Robinho (56) added a delightful second and a last minute penalty from Sturridge (90+2) ensured another embarrassing defeat to the championship hopefuls.
Arsene Wenger lined up with a flat 4-4-2, with no natural wingers as injuries limited his selection. It was a stuttering start to the match as neither side could find a way through either defences. The first real chance came after the half hour mark as Nasri free kick was fumbled by Joe Hart and from the follow up, Bendtner back heeled to Song who shot wide when could have done better.
Nasri and Van Persie were Arsenal’s most creative players but there was no variety to break through a wall of City shirts. The Gunners kept trying to pass their way through without any dynamism while the Civilians looked to soak up the pressure and counter. The tactic soon payed as Ireland scored in the last minute but not before Benjani had a great chance to open the scoring. An unmarked header from the Zimbabwean went perilously wide. The last attack of the half then ended up in a goal, a through ball falling to Ireland as Clichy and Silvestre bumped into each other and the sliced clearance from the full back fell to Ireland to slot into the top-corner.
Arsenal looked to get a goal back early in the second half; Diaby playing a neat one-two with Song but his shot hit the side netting while Van Persie hit the side netting with a free kick. That was as close as the Gunners got before the decisive second. A counter attack from Man City, Wright Phillips played a through ball to Robinho and he chipped over an onrushing Almunia. A great finish and game over had Bendtner not missed his chance.
Ramsey was called into the action and he nearly made an immediate impact as he played a through ball to Bendtner and the Dane took two heavy touches before shooting at Hart’s feet. The resulting corner saw Djourou’s header cleared off the line. Robinho then saw a goal disallowed for offside as Ireland’s shot was fumbled by skipper Almunia to the Brazilian but was offside knocking the ball in. Denilson then had a dipping shot wide but Robinho should have made it three as Denilson dallied with the ball which fell to the winger who rounded Almunia but his shot was cleared off the line from Djourou. Van Persie scored a goal which was also disallowed though rightly so as he knocked the ball away and shot as Hart when to kick the ball upfield.
Arsenal had no answers in a poor second half and more misery was compounded as Djourou’s tangle of legs with Sturridge resulted in a penalty which he cooly converted sending Almunia the wrong way. Arsenal succumbed to their fifth defeat of the season and with no way back.