In my preview of yesterday's game I predicted a win for Arsenal and so it turned out but the game was obviously heavily influenced by the early sending off of Boyata. To be honest about it the referee had no choice whatsoever and it left City with a massive uphill task on a very large pitch against an Arsenal team who know how to use the ball.
The team was pretty much as expected with the exception of Denilson playing instead of Diaby as the tall Frenchman had picked up an ankle knock. It meant that Arshavin regained his place in the team despite the misgivings of quite a few fans.
I had to collect my daughter from the airport and with her flight delayed I ended up watching the first 15 minutes on a big screen in the arrivals area. The game started off in a very open manner and City went on the attack almost immediately. Tevez skinned Djourou in the left back area with Clichy nowhere to be seen and Silva met his cut back with a neat flick that Fabianski did very well to keep out.
Within a very short time Arsenal seemed to have created a chance of their own when Cesc played a through ball for Arshavin to run on to but he was incorrectly called offside. City were playing quite a high line and that can be very dangerous if Cesc gets some room to work in. Tevez then proceded to get one on one in the same area with Djourou again but his cut back was cleared this time. The signs were worrying for Arsenal as Tevez had the beating of Djourou and Clochy was nowhere to be seen. It had already happened twice in just three minutes and I certainly thought that we needed to sort our defence out.
Only a minute later the game changing moment arrived as Cesc was again given time on the ball and he picked out the run of Chamakh who was taken down by Boyata just outside the box. He was the last man and it was a clear goalscoring opportunity, so the referee had no choice but to send him off. Unfortunately he didn't need Cesc waving an imaginary card at him but he did much to the annoyance of the City players. As our captain I'm sure he's entitled to tell the referee what he thinks of the situation but I really didn't like the sight of him waving that imaginary card.
I managed to catch the next ten minutes of the match before setting off for home and it was pretty clear to me that City were targeting Cesc with some very heavy challenges. Whether it was their plan to target him before the game or it was because of his card waving antics, I don't know but first of all de Jong and then Barry both got stuck in very hard on him and hurt him. I got home to see almost all of the second half and I saw that Arsenal had four yellow cards of their own at that stage, so I looked forward to watching MOTD2 to see if they had earned those cards by sticking up for themselves.
Unfortunately the BBC decided not to show anything of what happened in the remainder of the first half except for the goalmouth action and judging from that Arsenal should really have been a couple of goals up by half time. They did take the lead in the 21st minute through Nasri and it was a very well worked goal. Nasri brought the ball towards the penalty area from the right and exchange passes with Arshavin before running on and clipping the ball over an advancing Hart to give Arsenal the advantage they craved.
I think Yaya Toure was marking Arshavin and quite how he allowed him to stop, control the ball and turn before giving it back to Nasri, I don't know but I appreciated it and I'm sure Arsenal did too. Arsenal had their lead, Arshavin had got himself an assist and Nasri was now our top scorer with seven goals in all competitions.
To be honest Arsenal should have had a bigger lead before half time but Djourou missed a very easy header a couple of minutes before Nasri's goal and then Cesc missed a penalty six minutes before half time. He was taken down himself by Kompany for the penalty and despite the City protests it was a certain penalty. Cesc struck it very well and it was a good save from Hart but it was a very good opportunity that should have been taken.
As long as Arsenal only held a one goal lead City continued to play with courage and conviction and they had a few chances of their own. Arsenal over played the ball in the City area at times as they seemed to want to pass it into the net and I was getting a little restless as I knew a goal from City could well be two points thrown away.
With 25 minutes left to go the goal we needed came and it was with a stroke of fortune too. A through ball from Cesc to Chamakh was cut by a City defender and when the ball popped up, Song was on hand to toe it into the top corner to give us the cushion that we needed. City were visibly drained after that goal and despite their best efforts they knew the game was now beyond them. They continued to try their best and Adebayor came close on a couple of occasions but Fabianski played very well in goal for Arsenal.
The game finished with a flurry for Arsenal as Bendtner, who was on for Chamakh, was played through by Nasri and he finished past the advancing Hart with aplomb. He took the goal very well and it was a good way to announce his return to the first team squad.
The performances on the day of Cesc, Nasri and Fabianski were all top drawer and with Cesc and Nasri pulling the strings and Fabianski playing like a real goalkeeper things are certainly looking good for Arsenal. Our squad is nearly back to full strength and things are looking very good at the moment. Let's hope that we can keep it up.
As the league table stands Arsenal are in second place ahead of Man City and "Manure" on goal difference but they are all five points behind Chelsea. Thankfully that gap didn't increase yesterday and as it stands we have managed to win at both Blackburn and City where we were beaten in the league last season.
Arsenal play at home to West Ham next weekend while Chelsea have a tricky trip to Blackburn. With "Manure" playing at home to The Spuds there's a chance for Arsenal to strengthen their position in the table and it's a chance that they have to take. There's a Carling Cup game against Newcastle between now and then and from what the boss is saying we are going to take that game fairly seriously. It would seem that the desire to win a trophy means that we will take all four competitions we are in very seriously this season and hopefully the six year wait will end.
I'll leave it there for today but I'll look at the standings in my Fantasy Football league tomorrow and have a look at the Newcastle game too.
Here's the highlights from yesterday's game.
See You Tomorrow.