Arsenal 2, Manchester City 2: Draw can be our turning point, insists Arsene Wenger

Ross McLean
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Shkodran Mustafi netted Arsenal's second leveller against Manchester City (Source: Getty)

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes his side have rebooted their flatlining hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League after twice fighting back to earn a point against Manchester City.

The Gunners showed signs of recovery after a dismal run of form as Theo Walcott and Shkodran Mustafi cancelled out strikes from City’s Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero.

A share of the spoils went some way to stopping the rot for the north Londoners, who had lost six of their previous nine matches across all competitions.

Arsenal have only accrued six points from a possible 27 this term against other teams in the Premier League’s top seven, but a draw kept them within seven points of fourth-placed City with a game in hand.

“We started with a high level of anxiety and they punished us straight away,” said Wenger, who is still to reveal whether he will quit at the end of the season.

“It was a mental test. You could see the team was down on the confidence front and the fluency in our game suffered.

“But we have shown great mental resources. Twice down and once at the worst time of a football game, just before half-time. On top of that we lost [Laurent] Koscielny [to injury] but came back to 2-2.

“It will help us to rebuild confidence because the players showed mental strength. Mathematically, today was not the best operation for either team, but we’ll start thinking about mathematics when they’re confident again. It will help us to restart.”

City were bidding to complete a league double over Arsenal for the first time since 1975-76 and took a fifth-minute lead, but only after striker Danny Welbeck had curled inches wide of Willy Caballero’s post.

Seconds later a straight Kevin de Bruyne ball exploited a cavernous hole in Arsenal’s defence, allowing Sane to race through, hold off Hector Bellerin and round David Ospina before casually slotting home.

De Bruyne struck a post in a spell of City dominance, although Arsenal retaliated five minutes before half-time when Walcott poked beyond Caballero after collecting Mustafi’s header into the penalty area.

Parity lasted a matter of minutes, however, as City clicked through the gears and a period of pressure ended with Aguero lashing low across Ospina, having been fed by David Silva.

An unmarked Aguero crashed a close-range header wide in the opening stages of the second period and was soon made to pay as Mustafi rose to glance Mesut Ozil’s corner past Caballero.

Visiting appeals for a late penalty were waved away despite the ball appearing to land on Gunners’ defender Nacho Monreal’s arm as he tried to clear under pressure from Aguero.

City manager Pep Guardiola was incensed on the sidelines. “Monreal said he touched the ball with his hand,” said Guardiola, who added: “He also said to me that England, in these kind of situations, there are no whistles.”

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