A late Martin Demichelis header from a corner was enough for Manchester City to claim a hard-earned draw away at Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday. After Sergio Aguero had given City a first-half lead, Arsenal struck twice in ten minutes through Jack Wilshere and Alexis Sanchez and looked to be on course for a deserved win, but a spell of pressure from City late on and some awful defending of a corner ensured that the two giants would share the spoils.
The hosts started the game off by far the better team, exploiting weaknesses in a City midfield that was missing Yaya Toure and Fernando, with Frank Lampard starting from the off. The most notable change for Arsenal was the introduction of £16million man Danny Welbeck, who spearheaded the attack with Alexis Sanchez on the right and Mesut Ozil still out on the other flank.
Arsenal passed and probed their way around and into the City box and a chipped pass across the area almost found its way to Sanchez, but the best chance of the opening 45 came from a City mistake. A pass back to nobody in particular was seized upon by the lively Welbeck and he nicked in behind the defense, lifting a delicious lob over Joe Hart and towards goal, but it rebounded off the far post and back into the grateful arms of Hart. Wilshere – who has come under considerable criticism in recent weeks – and Sanchez were offering a good variety of attacking threat but with just under half an hour played, City gave a lesson in ruthlessness in front of goal.
Without having offered a huge threat in attack, City’s potent right hand side proved their best weapon. Aguero won possession in the center of the pitch and released Jesus Navas down the right flank, and the Spanish international sprinted into the acres of space left by the advancing Ozil and Monreal. Navas pulled the ball back towards the corner of the six-yard box and Aguero was on hand to sprint in front of the defender and clip his finish past Szczesny at the near post. It was a goal which upset Arsenal’s rhythm and City enjoyed the best of the rest of the half, but at the interval the score remained 0-1.
However, just after the hour mark, Arsenal were level. After a penalty appeal from Aguero was turned down, Wilshere broke into the area after a neat one-two with Aaron Ramsey and stepped around the final defender before lifting a magnificent finish over Hart.
It was nothing compared to their second though, just eleven minutes later. After an attack was cleared to the edge of the area, Wilshere nodded the ball left towards Sanchez and the Chilean star smashed a stunning volley past the dumbfounded Hart.
Despite some more possession from Arsenal following the goal, City surged forward and the hosts were the architects of their own downfall. As a fairly regulation corner was played into the area, Demichelis was allowed to head towards goal and though Szczesny got a touch to the ball, he could not stop it from dropping into the back of the net.
City sensed blood and Kolarov and Koscielny, under pressure from substitute Edin Dzeko, each hit the post in the closing minutes. It wasn’t to be, though, and the two title rivals shared the points – probably an accurate reflection of a fantastic game.