Gunners self destruct and hand City a title lifeline


ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger last night insisted he was not angry at his defenders, despite admitting they handed a victory to Manchester City that keeps the champions in the Premier League title race.

Defender Laurent Koscielny’s 10th-minute sending-off hampered the Gunners, and though striker Edin Dzeko failed to convert the resulting penalty England midfielder James Milner soon lashed City into the lead.

Dzeko added a second before half-time and, while the hosts rallied and were lifted by Vincent Kompany’s controversial red card, the visitors comfortably clinched their first league win at Arsenal since 1975.

“When you play at home in a game like this you have to dictate your personality, which we did not do, especially defensively,” said Wenger, whose men lie sixth, six points off fourth-placed Tottenham.

“After that, we played 80 minutes with 10 against 11 against a good team, and it’s difficult. But then again, on both of goals I think we could have done better. It’s frustrating because the team afterwards showed great heart, gave everything and showed great desire.

“It’s not anger because the players want to do well. It’s just the fact that we need to be a bit more confident in this kind of game. We want to do so well that we are a bit uptight. It’s not anger, it’s frustration that you do not see what this team is capable of.”

City manager Roberto Mancini railed at Kompany’s 75th-minute dismissal, for a studs-up tackle on Jack Wilshere, and said he expected to succeed with an appeal against his captain’s three-match ban.

“It wasn’t a foul or a red card,” he added. “We will appeal. It’s impossible we lose our player for three games for this. It was one-footed. He anticipated Wilshere 100 per cent.”

Manchester United’s victory over Liverpool earlier increased the pressure on second-placed City to win and trim the gap to seven points, and they immediately took the upper hand.

Referee Mike Dean awarded a penalty and expelled Koscielny after he grappled Dzeko to the ground, although the Bosnian’s spot-kick hit Wojciech Szczesny’s legs and then the post, before rolling along the goal-line into the goalkeeper’s arms.

It only delayed the inevitable, and City took the lead in the 22nd minute when they caught Arsenal dozing with a quick free-kick. Carlos Tevez released Milner, and his shot from a tight angle flashed in off the far post.

Milner had a key role in the second, 10 minutes later, his teasing cross being met by a sliding Tevez, and Szczesny parrying to the feet of the waiting Dzeko, who tapped in.

Kompany’s red card gave Arsenal’s second-half fightback further momentum, but substitute Olivier Giroud headed over unchallenged and Theo Walcott’s goal-bound shot was diverted by Joleon Lescott.