If there were any doubts whether Arsenal was serious about contending for the Premier League title this season, they were all washed away Sunday with a convincing 3-0 victory against Manchester City at Eastlands.
Arsenal created some luck in the first five minutes after an inch-perfect through ball forced Dedryck Boyata to commit a foul. The result was a red card for the young Belgian and the tide of the game quickly turned in Arsenal’s favor.
The match was far from over, but Arsenal continued to play sensible football and deservedly took the lead after some beautiful passing that exploited poor back-tracking by Gareth Barry for Samir Nasri to score the opening. However yet again, Manchester City made another defensive mistake when Vincent Kompany fouled Cesc Fabregas in the box which resulted in a penalty. Arsenal failed to make it 2-0 when Fabregas’s penalty was brilliantly saved by Joe Hart. But City was unable to take advantage of the lifeline that Hart handed them.
In the second half, Alex Song made it 2-0 after another defensive mistake, this time from Wayne Bridge who failed to clear the ball and instead placed it into Song’s bath to toepoke in a decisive goal.
Then late on, when the match was out of City’s reach, Niklas Bendtner put the third killer goal into the back of the net.
While Arsenal put on an impressive performance, City will be kicking itself for not making this a closer match. The accuracy of Manchester City’s headers and shots on goal were poor. After Tevez was removed due to an injury, City lacked the direct approach that opened Arsenal’s defense up. Instead they sprayed the ball around but were unable to penetrate Arsenal’s midfield or defense.
Despite City’s mistakes, Arsenal showed a profound maturity Sunday that has been missing for quite some time. If they push on from here, they have a very good chance of challenging Chelsea for the title. There’s still a long way to go, but so far so good for Wenger’s boys.
Speaking of Wenger’s boys, hats off to Jon Horner and Eric Beard from A Football Report blog for the excellent comic pictured above.