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Micah and Arsenal's Nicklas Bendtner battle for the ball

Micah and Arsenal's Nicklas Bendtner battle for the ball

Saturday November 22, 2008Manchester City 3 - Arsenal 0

By Steve Sutcliffe | In Match Reports - Home Games

Manchester City produced a counter attack masterclass to surely end Arsenal’s title aspirations for another season.

Before kick off the Gunners were hoping to put William Gallas’ midweek revelations behind them. But their subsequent failure at Eastlands has only served to add conviction to the comments made by their deposed Captain.

The Gunners looked comfortable in the opening 45 minutes until Stephen Ireland took advantage of some woeful Arsenal defending to edge City ahead on the stroke of half time.

Robinho then doubled City’s advantage after 56 minutes and Daniel Sturridge rounded off the scoring late on with a penalty that he won after Johan Djourou’s poor challenge.

For City it proved the perfect day as they capitalised on the disarray in the Arsenal ranks to record their first league win in four and if ever Gallas’ comments could be quantified it was in the way that Arsene Wenger’s young side conceded and reacted to City’s opener.

After an even first half City took the lead after a comedy of errors in the Arsenal defence.

Manuel Almunia’s goal kick was given away by full back Gael Clichy to Benjani. The ex Pompey man laid a pass off to Ireland.

The City midfielder has been in sparkling form since Mark Hughes arrival and he tried to thread a deft ball past Mikael Silvestre and Djourou. The Arsenal rearguard partially cleared however the ball broke back to Ireland after Silvestre had slipped and Clichy failed to clear.

The Irishman did not need to be asked twice and he duly dispatched an effort past Almunia to give City a half time lead.

Arsene Wenger’s young charges came out after the interval determined to justify their managers faith but shorn of the attacking talents of Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott and Emanuel Adebayor attack after attack lacked the craft, pace or power to find a way through a City backline expertly marshalled by Dunne and Richards.

And with the visitors toiling the blues increased their advantage. As another Arsenal attack floundered City countered in devastating fashion and Shaun Wright-Phillips played in Robinho who raced clear from the half way line before nonchalantly lifting a superb chip over the exposed Almunia.

As the City faithful bayed for more the blues almost registered one of the goals of the month when Robinho’s back heeled goal was disallowed for offside after a delightful interchange that involved Wright-Phillips, Vassell and the Brazilian.

The Brazilian then tested Almunia with another effort as Arsenal struggled to contain his movement and the samba star was again denied when Djouro scampered back to clear off the line after he had skipped round Almunia.

Nicklas Bendner then wasted the Gunners best opportunity of the day when he fired straight at City keeper Joe Hart.

City Academy product Daniel Sturridge then completed a miserable day for Arsene Wenger. The 88th minute substitute added the gloss to City’s victory, only their second over Arsenal since the formation of the Premier League, when, he converted a spot kick that he had won after being upended by Djourou.

Match Stats

Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Richards, Dunne, Garrido, Wright-Phillips, Ireland, Kompany, Vassell (Elano 73), Robinho (Hamann 82), Mwaruwari (Sturridge 88).
Subs Not Used: Schmeichel, Onuoha, Evans, Ben-Haim.

Goals: Ireland 45, Robinho 56, Sturridge 90 pen.

Arsenal: Almunia, Hoyte (Ramsey 60), Djourou, Silvestre, Clichy, Nasri, Denilson, Song Billong, Diaby (Vela 69), Van Persie, Bendtner.
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Wilshere, Gibbs, Lansbury, Simpson.

Booked: Song Billong.

Att: 44,878

Ref: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).