Manchester City (Ireland 45′ + 2, Robinho 56′, Sturridge pen. 90′) 3-0 Arsenal
Stadium: City of Manchester Stadium, England
Competition: English Premier League
Date: 22 November 2008
Kickoff: 15:00 GMT, 10:00 ET
Two sides with plenty of big names will clash at the City of Manchester Stadium as Arsenal will pay a visit to Manchester City. Soccerlens will be bringing you the action live! Log on to the site 15 minutes before kickoff for the live-blog! In the meantime, feel free to make your predictions or leave comments below!
Just when you thought that Arsenal had rescued their season and turned things around with a huge win over Manchester United and a rousing victory by the reserves in the Carling Cup, Arsenal crashed back to earth last weekend, losing at home to a determined Aston Villa squad. Arsenal’s defensive breakdowns, lack of size, and inability to generate consistent pressure on the opposing team’s goal were on full display and the only surprise was that Villa failed to win by more than 2 goals. Even Arsene Wenger, who rarely gives the other team credit, admitted that Villa deserved to win.
Arsenal must rebound with a victory here, or else they’ll risk falling even further off the pace. Losing Theo Walcott to a shoulder injury, and not having the suspended Cesc Fabregas will hurt, but the team should welcome back Emmanuel Adebayor, who came on as a substitute against Villa.
Manchester City would love to have Arsenal’s problems. Despite spending millions on the likes of Robinho, Vincent Kompany, Jo, and Shaun Wright Phillips, the club has been in a free-fall, City have not won since October 26, and have lost 5 out of their last 8 matches, including disheartening losses to Wigan, Bolton, and Middlesbrough, as well as blowing a late lead against Liverpool. Mark Hughes got the dreaded vote of confidence from the board, which usually means that he’s on thin ice. City desperately need a good result here, or else they they’ll have to start worrying about relegation (they’re only 3 points clear of last place West Brom).
Who will win this battle of underachieving teams? Tune in and find out!
UPDATE: Well, looks like Gallas won’t be playing in this match and his days as skipper are finished. Arsenal fans, your long nightmare is finally over.
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Richards, Dunne (c), Garrido, Wright-Phillips, Ireland, Kompany, Vassell, Robinho, Benjani.
Subs: Schmeichel, Onuoha, Elano, Hamann, Evans, Ben-Haim, Sturridge.
Only one change from the squad that drew, 2-2, with Hull City last weekend. Dunne will come in for Ben-Haim, whose blunder led to Hull’s opening goal. Hart has recovered from his ankle injury and will get the start in goal, as he tries to impress the powers that be enough so that they stop their quixotic pursuit of Gigi Buffon.
Arsenal: Almunia (c), Hoyte, Djourou, Silvestre, Clichy, Nasri, Denilson, Song, Diaby, Bendtner, Van Persie
Subs: Fabianski, Vela, Ramsey, Wilshire, Lansbury, Simpsons, Gibbs.
Wow. Looks like it was a full-scale housecleaning for Arsenal. We knew that Eboue, Toure, Sagna, and Walcott were hurt, but I thought Adebayor was fit. Turns out, he got hurt playing for Togo in midweek. A lot of Arsenal’s young guns will be on the bench for Arsene Wenger, so it will be interesting to see how that dynamic plays out. Obviously, the big change is Djourou coming in for Gallas. Sagna will miss out with an injury and will be replaced by Hoyte. Song will come in and Diaby will move to the midfield in place of Fabregas and Walcott, and Van Persie will slot in next to Bendtner up front.
90′ There’s the whistle and we’re done! Arsenal will have another long week and City pick up a huge win. Thanks to everyone who followed along! See you in midweek for the Champions League!
90′ GOAL! Clumsy challenge from Djourou on Sturridge in the box gives City a penalty shot. Sturridge will take it and puts it past Almunia for the goal! Game, set, match.
89′ Almost a terrible howler by Hart as he tries to punt it but Van Persie stands in Harts way and takes it away before Hart can punt it. Van Persie puts it in the back of the net, but it’s waved off by Wiley. I know it’s not sporting, but I’m not sure I really see what’s wrong with that. If Hart is dumb enough to tee it up right in front of Van Persie, then Van Persie should be able to take it away, right?
88′ Benjani will come off for Sturridge. Good effort from Benjani today, who still isn’t all the way back from his injury.
87′ First yellow of the match as Song brings Hamann down.
86′ Ramsey with a takeaway and he tries to key the attack. Long ball into the box for Bendtner, but Dunne knocks it away. Ramsey’s been very good since coming on. Maybe he should get more playing time.
84′ Wow, both Chelsea and Liverpool have yet to score in their respective matches. Interesting… If these results hold, then that Man Utd./Aston Villa match will have a huge implications for the title chase.
83′ Clichy tees one up from long range and it looks like Arsenal are just trying anything right now.
82′ Vela tries a shot from the right edge of the box, but it’s off the mark. Robinho will come off and will be replaced by Hamann.
80′ Poor corner from Elano that doesn’t get past the first defender. Robinho will be replaced as City want to keep him fresh for the UEFA Cup match against Schalke and the big Manchester derby next weekend.
78′ Robinho gets a great through-ball from Elano and is all alone with Almunia. Robinho gets around Almunia and tries to slot it in, but Djourou gets back and clears it before it can cross the line. Robinho should have done better there, and to add injury to insult, he’s down on the pitch.
77′ My favorite revelation about the whole Gallas affair? The unnamed 20-year-old French midfielder identified only as “S,” who was arrogant and clashed with Gallas at Euro 2008. Wow. Not sure how we’re supposed to crack that code. Someone call the folks at M.I.T.
74′ Poor giveaway by Denilson and Benjani takes it. He makes a run towards goal and tries to lay it off to his right for Wright Phillips. It’s a poor pass, but Wright Phillips manages a strike on goal that is deflected out for a corner. City get a few chances on the corner as Ireland’s shot is deflected off Denilson’s arm right to Robinho. No penalty call, though. He tries to shoot, but Almunia knocks it away. Benjani tries to pounce on it, but he can’t control it.
73′ Vassell will come off for City and will be replaced by Elano.
72′ Ireland is down after he collides with Denilson. Ireland’s probably the last guy City can afford to lose right now. He’s been phenomenal lately.
71′ Van Persie gets a chance as Dunne’s clearance deflects off Bendtner and falls to the man who may or may not have been the disruptive force that Gallas complained about. Van Persie fires on goal, but it’s well off the mark.
70′ Nasri sends a cross from the left wing to Bendtner. He tries to volley it on target, but he whiffs on the attempt.
69′ Here comes Vela for Diaby.
68′ Good one-two by Denilson and Bendtner, but Denilson goes down fairly easily in the box, trying to get the penalty. Wiley is not amused.
67′ Song creates some space and fires it on target, but Hart easily makes the save. Vela is warming up for Arsenal.
66′ City find the back of the net as Robinho sends a nice cross from the left edge of the box to Vassell. He sends a nice pass to Ireland, who whips a half volley on target that Almunia fumbles. Robinho puts in the rebound, but he’s flagged for being offside.
65′ Almost a third goal for City as Kompany picks out an unmarked Robinho at the far post. He sends a poor header on goal which is well off target. Well, they don’t pay him to head the ball.
64′ Poor corner that is easily intercepted by Almunia. Clichy with a lackadaisical back pass that Almunia wasn’t expecting and Robinho nearly gets on the end of it. Almunia is able to recover, though, and gets to it first.
63′ Vassell makes the run down the right wing and turns Clichy inside out. Clichy recovers, though, and knocks it away before Vassell can make the cross. It’s a corner for City. Clichy has been very shaky this year.
62′ Van Persie whips in the corner and it’s towards Diaby, but Dunne is able to knock it away.
61′ Brilliant through-ball from Ramsey to a charging Bendtner, who makes the run into the box. He holds it too long and his shot is blocked by Hart. Bendtner gets it back and his shot is deflected out for a corner.
60′ Ramsey will come on for Arsenal, as Wenger has seen enough of Hoyte (understandably so). Looks like Djourou will move to right back, Song will go into the center, and Ramsey will move into midfield.
59′ Bendtner makes a run towards goal, but Dunne easily takes it away from him. I’ll go ahead and say it for everyone that was thinking it. Bendtner sucks.
56′ GOAL! Van Persie loses it to Wright Phillips, who springs Robinho. The Brazilian is all alone and chips it over Almunia’s head for the goal! Great strike and great play from Wright Phillips, who held onto it and looked to slot it down the middle to Vassell, but waited until Robinho made the run from the left. Brilliant!
55′ Robinho is called for the foul and Van Persie sends in a free kick, which Ireland clears it away.
54′ Sloppy clearances from Arsenal and the ball bounces dangerously in the box. Ireland isn’t able to get on the end of it, though, and Arsenal escape.
53′ Benjani wins a free kick as Denilson fouls him. City will get a free kick from about 40 yards out. Free kick gets cleared away by Diaby.
51′ Van Persie takes it and sends it just wide of the near post.
50′ Van Persie wins a free kick on the edge of the box after Richards tackles him. It looks like Van Persie tripped over his own feet.
49′ Van Persie sends in the corner, but City clear it away. Wright Phillips tries to counterattack, but Van Persie trips him and is called for a foul.
48′ Clichy whips in a great cross from the left wing to Bendtner, who goes down in the box and wants the penalty. No call, but Arsenal get a corner out of it.
47′ Song with a nice through-ball to Diaby, who has a good chance from the right edge of the box, but his shot is off the mark.
46′ Arsenal kick off and we’re underway.
It wasn’t the best first half for either squad, but City did look much more dangerous than Arsenal and probably deserve to be ahead. City were at their best on the counterattack and really put pressure on Arsenal’s inexperienced back four. Arsenal have been very sloppy so far, and it doesn’t look like they have much in the way of reinforcements. We’ll see what Wenger does at halftime to try and rally his squad.
45 + 2 GOAL! Defensive breakdown by Arsenal as Clichy tries to clear Benjani’s pass, but runs into Silvestre. The ball falls to Ireland, who continues making the run towards goal. He chips it over Almunia and it grazes the crossbar but bounces past the line for the goal! What a dagger for Arsenal, who looked like they were going to escape without conceding a first-half goal.
45′ + 1 Another giveaway from Arsenal and Robinho goes off to the races. He holds it way too long, though, and Djourou easily closes him down. Wright Phillips gets it outside the box. He sends a great cross into the middle for Benjani, who’s header goes just side of the mark.
44′ Arsenal really look like a different team without Fabregas in midfield. Terrible effort by the Arsenal middle-four so far.
43′ Long pass from Zabaleta to Robinho. Djourou does a great job staying with Robinho and doesn’t let the Brazilian get past him. Great defense from the youngster.
42′ City on the counterattack again as Hoyte loses it. Ireland tries to play it long to Benjani, but it’s too long and Almunia takes it.
41′ City seem to be playing better on the counterattack. As we speak, Ireland takes it away in his attacking half and makes a run down the left wing. He tries to center it back to Robinho, but it’s knocked away by Arsenal.
40′ First corner of the game as Bendtner’s cross goes off Richards for an Arsenal corner. It’s a short corner that Van Persie then swings into the box. City knock it away, though, and spring their counterattack. Robinho sends a good cross towards Ireland, but Silvestre gets it first and heads it away from danger.
39′ Kompany has a free kick from near the center line. He tries to send a long pass to Wright Phillips, but it’s well long of the target and Almunia easily takes it.
37′ Sloppy giveaway by Arsenal and Ireland leads the charge. He threads it through to Benjani, who is offside. He doesn’t hear the whistle, though, and tries to get to the ball before Almunia. Benjani’s boot makes contact with Almunia’s hand, and Almunia looks like he’s taken a slight knock.
36′ Another free kick to Arsenal. We don’t see what happened since they were still showing the replay of Nasri’s free kick. This one will be from about 30 yards away, but on the left wing. Nasri’s curling free kick is easily caught by Hart. He springs the counterattack, and City have a good chance, but Benjani’s pass to Robinho is behind him and cleared by Arsenal.
34′ Van Persie is up and looks like he’ll be okay. Arsenal will have a good chance from about 30 yards out or so. Nasri will take it for the Gunners. Good shot from Nasri that forces Hart to make a fantastic diving save. Bendtner keeps it from going out and backheels it to Song, who has a chance inside the box, but his shot goes wide of the post.
32′ By the way, Robinho has done nothing so far. Long pass to Van Persie and he collides with Richards. Richards looks like he hit Van Persie’s chest, and Van Persie goes down and is being treated by the medical staff.
31′ Van Persie tries to make a run towards goal, but he gets wiped out by Dunne. It looked like a foul, but no call from the officials. Let’s just say that Wenger respectfully disagreed with that no-call.
30′ Sloppy pass from Nasri as he tries to get fancy and back-heel it to Diaby. It’s well short of the mark, but Wright Phillips’ touch sends it out past the touchline for an Arsenal throw.
27′ Good chance for City as Wright Phillips leads the charge towards goal. He lays it off to his right where Vassell waits. He slots a great cross towards the far post for Benjani, but it’s just out of his reach. Goal kick for Arsenal.
25′ Game is getting sloppier. Neither side has really settled into a groove. I guess that’s what happens when two sides low on confidence play each other.
24′ Song does good work to win it from Ireland, but he loses it to Benjani. City then give it back to Arsenal, who go on the attack. Zabaleta fouls Nasri near the center line, and now Zabaleta will get to talk to Mr. Wiley
22′ Van Persie sends it towards goal, but Hart punches it away emphatically. I think he was picturing Buffon’s face on that ball. Arsenal come back and Diaby gets it deep down the left flank. He tries to center it, but City clear it away.
21′ Dunne cynically shoves Bendtner to the ground. Arsenal will have a free kick from 35 yards out.
20′ Vassell gets in the box and lobs a dangerous ball across goal. Almunia is quick off his line, though, and corrals it before anyone in a City shirt can get to it.
19′ Arsenal attack gets upended by Wright-Phillips, who does a great job closing down Hoyte down the right wing. Hoyte tries to get it back and is called for a foul. Alan Wiley then calls Hoyte over for a little talk. Wiley probably wants to know who the new captain will be.
16′ Hoyte fouls Robinho, who gets in deep down the left flank. It’s taken quickly by Robinho, but Almunia makes the easy save.
15′ Neither squad has been able to establish much of a rhythm. A lot of giveaways, so far, from both squads.
14′ Vassell goes down from the Clichy challenge, but no call from the refs. Clichy brings it out and is fouled in his own half by Zabaleta
13′ Djourou gives it away to Wright-Phillips, but his through-ball to Robinho is long and Arsenal will clear it away from danger.
12′ Van Persie nearly steals the sloppy throw-in and would have had a clear path to goal. Zabaleta makes the good tackle, though, to deny Van Persie the ball.
11′ Dangerous play by Wright-Phillips as he backtracks from Diaby and sends it back to Hart. Hart mishits it, but it’s deflected off an Arsenal player for a City throw.
10′ Kompany fouls Van Persie and Kompany stays down. It looks like their legs got tangled up. Oh wait, on the replay, it looks like Van Persie’s back leg came dangerously close to the family jewels. That would explain why he stayed down. Ouch.
8′ City have numbers, but a poor pass from Vassell is easily taken away by Diaby.
7′ Bendtner goes down from the Dunne challenge. Arsenal will have a free kick from about 35 yards out or so. Let’s see what Van Persie can do. He sends in the ball, and City control it, but Wright Phillips loses it to Bendtner. He tries to center it to Van Persie, but City defend it and spring the counterattack.
6′ Diaby goes down in the box, but no call from the refs. Good back-and-forth action so far, even though some of the passes have been sloppy.
5′ Nasri makes the run down the left flank, but Vassell knocks it away for an Arsenal throw-in. Ireland cuts out the pass and tries to play it long to Benjani, but it’s short of the mark and Arsenal get it back.
2′ Diaby tries to make a run into the box, but he’s met by Dunne. City clear it away and Arsenal reset through their new skipper, Almunia. Sloppy giveaway by Arsenal in front of their own box and it falls to Zabaleta. He takes a long-range shot, but it’s well over the crossbar.
1′ City will kick off and here we go! Alan Wiley is our ref. Nice play by Wright Phillips to keep the ball from going over the touchline. City then commit the foul, though, and Arsenal will control it.
0′ With all those young players in the squad today, you can bet that if Arsenal pull this off, then we’ll be subjected to another week of stories about how great the youngsters are. Let me temper that enthusiasm a bit. You guys are playing a squad that hasn’t won in almost a month. Don’t get ahead of yourselves.
0′ Almunia leads the Gunners out of the tunnel. I wouldn’t get used to that armband, Manuel.
0′ And, because I’m an American, let me say that I’m glad that Clint Dempsey is starting for Fulham once again this week. He played well for them last year, and he deserves a chance to start. Hopefully, he’ll hold onto to the job.
0′ Hmm… Joe Cole, Ashley Cole, and Frank Lampard are all playing today for Chelsea. I guess those injuries cleared up quickly, huh?
0′ And we haven’t even gotten to Manchester City. What a disaster! I guess that shows that money doesn’t always equal wins.
0′ I’m also wondering what Kolo Toure did to get into Wenger’s doghouse. You would think that he would be the new captain, right? Then again, he was barely playing before Gallas’ demotion as Wenger seemed to favor Silvestre. Maybe Wenger thinks that Toure’s time as a top-notch defender is coming to a close and is doing the same thing to Toure that he did to Gilberto Silva and Jens Lehmann.
0′ There are plenty of intriguing subplots here today, not the least of which is the William Gallas soap opera. I think Wenger made the right move, and the only question is why it took him as long as it did to finally pull the trigger. You have a “captain” who breaks down emotionally during matches, clashes with teammates on the pitch, and attacks teammates through the press and through his autobiography rather than work things out privately. I can’t believe it took this long to take the armband away. I thought he should have lost it after the Birmingham City fiasco from last season.
0′ Hello everyone! Welcome to Soccerlens’ live coverage of the Premiership clash between Manchester City and Arsenal. I’m Victor and I’ll be your live-blogger.
Well, what can you say? City absolutely deserved to win this match and thoroughly outplayed Arsenal. It will be another week of soul-searching for Wenger and his charges, as they will need to do something to save their season, especially with matches coming up against both Chelsea and Liverpool. Once again, they suffered from defensive breakdowns, but the real story was their inability to string more than a few passes together before giving it away. Denilson was horrible in midfield as the decision to let both Flamini and Gilberto Silva go continues to haunt Wenger. Fabregas’ loss was huge, and it wasn’t until Ramsey came in that things began clicking.
City still have a way to go before we can start talking about them for one of the European places, but this was a huge win for them. They needed to make a statement and get clear of the drop zone, and they did so. We’ll see if this victory gives them any momentum going into their big matches against Schalke and Manchester United next week.
Man of the Match:
Wright Phillips played well, and Robinho showed flashes of brilliance. However, once again, it was the underrated Ireland who was their best player. His goal was a huge momentum shifter, and he continued his solid play in the second half. As for Arsenal, it was slim pickings, but Ramsey really impressed me when he came into the game. He won’t start over Fabregas, but Wenger really should find more playing time for the young Welshman. Djourou filled in admirably for Gallas, although he did give away that penalty.