Arsenal held high-flying Manchester City to a draw this evening at the Emirates, after Mathieu Flamini’s second-half strike cancelled out David Silva’s opener.
City went into the game knowing that a win would put them top of the Premier League following Chelsea’s shock defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace in the earlier kick off, whilst Arsenal were given the chance to get their title charge back on track.
And it was the travelling side who dominated the opening stages of the game, looking to utilize the pace of Jesus Navas on the right-hand side in order to get behind Arsenal’s defence. Though the visitors looked threatening, it wasn’t until Navas sent a curling left-footed effort inches wide of Wojciech Szczesny's far post that they began to find ways past the Gunners’ back-line.
To their credit the home side were organised and disciplined when not in possession, and the likes of David Silva and Yaya Toure seemed to struggle to enforce themselves in the way they did against Manchester United mid-week.
However it was the little Spaniard who opened the scoring in the 18th minute of the match, bundling home the ball after Edin Dzeko saw his powerful left-foot effort hit the wood-work.
At 1-0 fans may have feared that the flood gates were set to open, but it seemed to alternatively serve as something of a wake up call for Arsene Wenger’s charges, as they sought to restore parity. That being said a disallowed goal for offside given against Flamini and an unsuccessful penalty appeal when Tomas Rosicky went down at the feet of Pablo Zabaleta were the only real highlights of the first half.
The second half promised to be entirely different, as Arsenal levelled fairly early on through a well-timed Flamini finish. Lukas Podolski delivered a neat low ball into the box, which the Frenchman swept into Joe Hart’s bottom left-hand corner. However once the celebrations had died down it returned to being something of a midfield battle.
Half-chances fell to the likes of Olivier Giroud and Fernandinho, but aside from a smart Hart save when Podolski found himself through on goal, it never really looked like ending any other way than a draw. At times City threatened, and produced periods of prolonged pressure, but Arsenal looked every bit a match for their high-flying opponents, and Manuel Pellegrini could well live to rue dropping two points against a side who have been terrible against top four opposition this term.
The result means that any lingering title ambitions Arsenal had have been resolutely put to bed, but more interestingly it leaves City still sitting in third, one point behind Liverpool and two points behind Chelsea. They do have two games in hand over the Blues, but their fixture at Anfield on April 13 has now taken on an even greater significance.