Koscielny rescues Gunners
Man City 1 Arsenal 1
Laurent Koscielny, partially responsible for Arsenal conceding the opening goal of this entertaining contest, claimed the late equaliser that maintained an unbeaten start to the Premier League season for both clubs.
By Ian Whittell
But it was Arsenal, written off by many observers before a ball was even kicked in the current campaign, who could take the greater satisfaction as they recovered well from conceding a first-half goal against the run of play to City centre-half Joleon Lescott.
Ironically, just as Koscielny had a hand in City’s goal, Lescott, too, had a role to play in the equaliser, clearing a Theo Walcott corner directly to the Arsenal defender, who controlled the ball before finishing clinically from 12 yards.
Lescott’s finish had been every bit as impressive after 39 minutes, the defender arriving in between Koscielny and Lukas Podolski, both guilty of ball-watching as the England international rose superbly to head past Vito Mannone. Considering Koscielny was only called in for his first start of the season due to Thomas Vermaelen’s illness, it was an eventful afternoon for the Frenchman but a particularly frustrating one for City, who have yet to keep a clean sheet this season and are still a long way short of their title-winning form of last year.
To add to the frustrations, manager Roberto Mancini and combustible forward Mario Balotelli were involved in a verbal altercation as they left the field after the final whistle.
“I don’t remember what happened, but it’s not important,” said Mancini understandably concentrating more on the loss of two points. “Mario probably thinks it was important. Tomorrow I will ask him and next time, I see.
“What we did last season is finished, in the past. Now we are like all the other teams and I don’t like that we drew today. I am frustrated but the players are also important.
“We have this problem, we don’t close the game and after that it’s clear we don’t take our chances.
“We had the game under control, only for the last 10 or 15 minutes, I don’t know why. We were too deep. The point is that we need to close the game when we have the chance to score.
“It’s difficult as we started the season with new players and had some problems but I think we probably have two points less than we should.”
But for some woeful finishing, from Gervinho in particular, the afternoon may have ended even more disappointingly for Mancini’s side.
After just 15 minutes, the Ivory Coast forward was played clean through by Aaron Ramsey, in the midst of an impressive first start of the season, only for a terrible first touch to see the ball harmlessly through to Joe Hart. Similarly, in injury-time at game’s end, Gervinho created room and a superb shooting opportunity for himself only to fire high and wide.
It summed up an occasion on which, for all the attacking talent on display, it took two corners and two defenders to claim the game’s only goals.
Podolski was equally guilty of a bad first-half miss, leaning back and firing over after good work down the right and a tidy drag back by Carl Jenkinson. Nor were City’s forward line any more accurate, with Edin Dzeko shooting over the Arsenal crossbar shortly after his team had taken the lead.
After the break, and a much-needed tactical change that saw Mancini take off the ineffective Scott Sinclair in favour of Jack Rodwell, City seemed to have taken a degree of control, with Aguero having a strong appeal for a penalty after a challenge from Koscielny.
Yaya Toure also inspired a promising attack, bursting from deep in the 80th minute before slipping in Aguero whose shot, under pressure from Koscielny, was saved by Mannone.
It was a half-chance, and miss, that proved costly with Arsenal immediately responding after Gibbs’s short pass was collected by Santi Cazorla with the midfielder sending in a powerful right-foot strike which Hart did well to tip over his crossbar, resulting in the corner from which Koscielny equalised.
Two minutes later, City might have regained the lead after Aguero drove a rebound just wide after Mannone had done well to keep out Vincent Kompany’s acrobatic overhead kick and Gervinho, similarly, missed a superb opportunity with an injury-time shot that sailed over.
“It’s frustrating because we had room to do more,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
“We had early chances, late chances, I think of the one from Gervinho from the edge of the box.
“But overall I hope the game will reinforce our belief and our confidence and reassure us about our potential in this league.”
MAN CITY (4-4-2): Hart 7; Zabaleta 6, Kompany 8, Lescott 7, Clichy 7; Silva 7, Y Toure 6, Garcia 5, Sinclair 5 (Rodwell 46, 6); Aguero 7 (Balotelli 84), Dzeko 6 (Tevez 67, 6).
ARSENAL (4-2-3-1): Mannone 6; Jenkinson 7, Mertesacker 7, Koscielny 7, Gibbs 7; Diaby 7 (Giroud 71, 6), Arteta 6; Ramsey 9, Cazorla 7, Podolski 5 (Walcott 71, 6); Gervinho 5 (Coquelin 90).
Referee: M Dean 7.
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