Saturday, February 2, 2008

Manchester City vs. Arsenal: Match Review

Arsenal climbed back to the top of the Premier League table for at least a few hours after defeating Manchester City 3-1 at the City of Manchester Stadium. The win saw the Gunners leapfrog Manchester United, who play against Tottenham at White Heart Lane later today. It was City's first home defeat this season.

Arsenal grabbed an early lead through a 9th minute strike from Emmanuel Adebayor. Eduardo scored Arsenal's second with an overhead kick, but City got one back before halftime when an error from Gael Clichy enabled Gelson Fernandes to score in the 28th minute. City looked unlikely to score in the second half, and Adebayor put the match beyond doubt just before the end of regulation time with his 18th league goal of the season.

Manchester City:
Joe Hart; Vedran Corluka, Micah Richards, Richard Dunne, Michael Ball; Blumer Elano, Dietmar Hamann, Stephen Ireland, Gelson Fernandes, Marti Petrov; Daniel Sturridge

Arsenal: Jens Lehmann; Bacary Sagna, William Gallas, Philippe Senderos, Gael Clichy; Abou Diaby, Cesc Fabregas, Mathieu Flamini, Alex Hleb; Emmanuel Adebayor, Eduardo

Arsenal were in trouble early when Dietmar Hamann lobbed the ball up field to Stephen Ireland. Ireland assumed that Lehmann would reach the ball first and half-heartedly gave chase, only to find the German keeper rooted to the spot. Luckily for Lehmann, Ireland's hesitation gave him just enough time to reach the ball before the City midfielder.

The early danger woke up the Arsenal side who quickly rallied to score a goal in the 9th minute. A cross from right-back Bacary Sagna met Emmanuel Adebayor on the edge of the 6 yard box. The Togo striker, who has scored in his last 8 games, made no mistake in firing home to give Arsenal the lead.

The Gunners grabbed a second about a quarter of an hour later when Adebayor headed a cross to Eduardo. The Croatian striker took the ball on his chest with his back to goal and scored with an impressive overhead kick to double Arsenal's lead.

Manchester City have had a tough time scoring goals of late, and looked out of the competition until Gael Clichy handed Sven-Göran Eriksson's side a lifeline two minutes after Eduardo's goal.

The Frenchman, who is normally rock-solid at left-back, lost possession on the byline after trying to play his way out of trouble rather than boot the ball up the pitch. Vedran Corluka fed the ball to Gelson Fernandes who slotted home from right in front of goal, bringing City back into the game.

Arsenal still looked the more dangerous side, though, and Adebayor almost bagged a second on the half hour mark after getting on the end of yet another cross from Sagna, but Joe Hart stood his ground to parry the shot.

Gunners captain William Gallas could have scored ten minutes later, but sent his shot wide of the post.

Manchester City had a great chance just before halftime, but Martin Petrov fired a tame effort wide after being released by Stephen Ireland. The miss meant that City went into halftime down two goals to one against one of the best teams in the country.

Arsenal came out strongly in the second half, with Cesc Fabregas lobbing Joe Hart from the edge of the area after being picked out by William Gallas. His effort flew over the bar though, as City avoided going two goals down.

The Citizens came close to grabbing an equalizer in the 66th minute when substitute Darius Vassell was played through by Hamann. Lehmann managed to clear the ball, but only as far as Blumer Elano. The Brazilian midfielder, normally lethal from range, could only lob the ball over Lehmann's crossbar.

Arsenal should have scored ten minutes later when Emmanuel Adebayor, Cesc Fabregas, and Eduardo were up against only two defenders after a fast break. Adebayor fed Eduardo down the left, but the Croatian's pass, meant for Fabregas, was cut out by Michael Ball to prevent Arsenal's third goal.

Adebayor had another chance from a header not too long after. The lanky frontman connected with a cross from Fabregas, but could not get enough power on his header to beat the alert Joe Hart.

Adebayor's second goal would come soon enough though, finally putting the game beyond doubt in the 88th minute with an easy goal from the center of the area.

Arsenal fans may be rooting for Tottenham to win against title-rivals Manchester United today, as anything but three points for United would leave Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table after the weekend. Arsenal's three points were well-earned and the Gunners are beginning to rediscover the form that saw them lead the league earlier in the season.