Draw a cold comfort for Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola

Arsenal 2 Man City 2
ARSENE WENGER’S side came from behind twice to salvage a draw that leaves them in sixth position and seven points behind Champions League qualification with just ten games to play.

It seems almost inevitable now that Wenger will fail to qualify for Europe’s elite competition for the first time in his two-decade Arsenal reign.

A draw was just about a fair result although Pep Guardiola will be disappointed his side failed to capitalise on taking an early lead through Leroy Sane and are now clinging on to the top four when they had a chance to close the gap on Premier League leaders Chelsea.

Wenger commented: "We were not completely at our best because of the pressure but we showed mental strength and did not lie down. Mathematically a draw is not the best solution for both teams but it is a point which will help us."

Sane sad afterwards: "I am disappointed that we did not win, the other scores were good for us as Chelsea lost.

"It is very difficult to catch Chelsea, it was important that we won today. We only have one point and now on Wednesday we play them."

Arsenal will be hoping they have an easier time against London rivals West Ham in midweek as Sane was a regular threat with his speed on the ball.

The German striker’s effort was cancelled out by Theo Walcott before Sergio Aguero handed City a deserved half-time lead. Arsenal hit back shortly after the break through defender Shkodran Mustafi and either side could have gone on to win an occasionally thrilling match.

Both teams were sent out to attack and did just that from the start. There could have been three or more goals in the opening five minutes.

Arsenal keeper David Ospina, in for the injured Petr Cech, dashed out of his area to deny Raheem Sterling in the first skirmish before Danny Welbeck inches from scoring at the other end.

But a shaky Arsenal defence, programmed to attack before defending, were then sliced open by Kevin de Bruyne’s pass as Sane displayed a rare turn of heel and power to get the best of Hector Bellerin and round Ospina to roll the ball into an empty net.

Guardiola was using the much-maligned midfielder Jesus Navas as a right-back and he looked unnerved when booked for an early foul.

But City kept attacking and De Bruyne hit a post before Ospina’s brilliant stop from David Silva’s shot on the rebound.

City might have looked unconvincing at the back, Navas in particular, but Arsenal looked disorganised and discombobulated at best.

Appearing vulnerable every time the visitors got the ball, they needed their experienced internationals to make a mark. But Sanchez was predictably cutting inside to dead ends and Ozil was anonymous on his first start for six weeks.

That they were still Arsenal’s most dangerous players told a story and the pair combined to set Ozil up with a decent chance midway through the first half.

But City keeper Willy Caballero almost made it to half-time without having to make a decent save as Arsenal’s frustration was betrayed by bookings for midfield duo Francis Coquelin and Granit Xhaka.

Arsenal had weathered the early storm, though, and were looking more convincing when Walcott made the most of some indecisive defending by former team-mate Gael Clichy to score in the 40th minute from Monreal’s headed pass.

The excitement for the home fans lasted for only two minutes as some more woeful play at the back allowed Aguero to restore City’s lead.

Guardiola, unhappy with the way Arsenal were beginning to get a grip in midfield, replaced Raheem Sterling with Yaya Toure for the start of the second half.

Wenger’s midway switch, sending on Gabriel for Koscielny was enforced and hardly confidence-inducing.

But it was fellow central defender Mustafi who made the biggest impact when he headed in following an almighty leap to connect with Ozil’s 53rd-minute corner.

They were mindful to stay in the game this time, though it took good saves from Ospina to deny Fernandinho and a free header gifted to Aguero.

A draw was always the most predictable outcome for this match, but only a win would do for Wenger so he tried to boost his attack with the introduction of Olivier Giroud with just over 20 minutes to go.

They were nearly gifted it when a miscued pass by John Stones forced Caballero into action to deny Ozil an easy goal ten minutes later.

That would have been harsh on City, but it would also have been apt had a defensive mistake settled the match as they were both as bad as each other.

Should all make for an interesting tie when they meet again at Wembley for an FA Cup semi-final in three weeks’ time.

ARSENAL (4-2-3-1): Ospina 7; Bellerin 5, Mustafi 6, Koscielny 6 (Gabriel 45, 6), Monreal 6; Xhaka 6, Coquelin 6; Walcott 6 (Giroud 68, 5), Ozil 5, Sanchez 6; Welbeck 5 (Iwobi 77, 6).

Subs not used: Martinez, Maitland-Niles, Gibbs, Elneny.

MAN CITY (4-4-1-1): Caballero 6; Navas 5, Stones 5, Otamendi5 , Clichy 5; Fernandinho 5, De Bruyne 6, Silva 6 (Zabaleta 89, 6), Sane 7; Sterling 5 (Toure 45, 6); Aguero 7.

Subs: Bravo, Kompany, , Nolito, Kolarov, Delph.

Referee: Andre Marriner 6 

Attendance: 60,001


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