Arsenal emerged victorious in a crucial Super-Sunday clash with Manchester City at the Emirates, on April 8, 2012. Mikel Arteta’s 87th minute goal secured the winner for Arsenal as they leap-frogged Tottenham Hotspur into the third place in the league.
This was a game neither side could afford to lose or even to draw. City desperately needed a win to put pressure on Man United at the top of the table, while Gunners needed to win to boost their hopes of Champions League qualification next season. Just when the game seemed to be heading for a draw, Arteta fired in a powerful strike, from 25 yards out, that went like a bullet past Joe Hart, the Manchester City goal-keeper.
Arsene Wenger’s wards thoroughly deserved their victory as they were the dominant team for most part of the game. They completely out-played City in the first half-hour, pushing them farther and farther back. With less than three minutes of the game played, Yaya Toure was booked for a poor challenge on Tomas Rosicky. A few minutes later, City made their first substitution of the game, bringing in Chilean David Pizzaro to replace Yaya Toure, who seemed to be struggling with a knee injury. Arsenal had their first real chance at the quarter-hour mark when Robin van Persie met Arteta’s delightful corner kick at the far post and seemed to have to have guided the ball home. However, the ball took a deflection off Thomas Vermaelen to go over the cross bar.
As the first half progressed, City gradually began to find their feet. Balotelli looked threatening a couple of times but City never really had a clear goal-scoring opportunity. Ten minutes from half-time, Nasri’s precise long pass found Balotelli but the young Wojciech Szczesny was quick to sniff out the danger and take pre-emptive action.
Meanwhile, Vincent Kompany stood out for the visitors as he performed the tough task of marking Van Persie, with finesse. The score-line read nil-nil at half-time.
After the restart, the visitors were a totally different outfit. They looked more threatening and started winning the mid-field battles. Clichy went brilliantly past Bacary Sagna and Alex Song and fed a pass to Sergio Aguero but he was quickly closed down by the Arsenal centre-backs. A few minutes later, Aguero headed Samir Nasri’s cross towards goal. The visitors should have taken the lead but for Gunners’ Polish keeper Szczesny, who tipped the ball over the bar.
On the hour, Wenger made the home team’s first substitution with Andre Santos replacing Kieran Gibbs at left-back. Santos immediately conceded a free-kick after tugging at Balotelli just outside the box. However, it proved to be another opportunity for City, as Milner’s cross was safely headed out by Song.
Gunners now began to regroup and take the game to the visitors. Yossi Benayoun weaved his way past three defenders but his tame effort was easily blocked by Hart. Song, who is becoming a lofted-pass specialist these days, delightfully lofted the ball to van Persie, who quickly got past Kompany only to see his header crash into the goal-post.
Fifteen minutes from the whistle, the home side goofed up on another wonderful opportunity. Walcott’s shot hit the post, and Vermaelen failed to convert the rebound and Benayoun’s effort went past the other post. Three missed opportunities in a matter of ten seconds. Just when it looked as though Wengers men would be left ruing their missed opportunities, Arteta romped home the winner. The Emirates roared much to the despair of the visiting fans and Mancini was furious with his players. To add insult to injury, Balotelli was sent off as he received his second yellow card for a reckless tackle on Sagna.
Arsenal survived a scare when they conceded a free kick just outside the box with less than a minute of regulation time left to go. However, not only did they deal with the free-kick but their counter-attack released Aaron Ramsey, who ran swiftly to the other end, but his shot went way-ward. In the end, it did not matter as Gunners pocketed all three points from the game.
(Photo Courtesy: Goal.com, Premierleague.com, Arsenal.com)
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Gokul is a software professional from Chennai, India. An avid sports fan, he is a keen follower of Cricket, Football, Hockey, Tennis and Formula One. He styles his articles as razor-edge analyses of all the hot and happening events in the field of sports.