MANCHESTER CITY (0) vs ARSENAL (3)
ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger hailed a huge victory after his side finally ended a miserable run against fellow Premier League title challengers with a morale-boosting triumph over 10-man Manchester City.
The Gunners arrived at Eastlands with a reputation for losing to the top flight’s heavyweights but bucked the trend with goals from midfielders Samir Nasri and Alex Song, and substitute Nicklas Bendtner.
Captain Cesc Fabregas even had the luxury of missing a penalty as Arsenal took full advantage of the fifth-minute red card shown to City defender Dedryck Boyata to replace their hosts in second place.
“It was important to get a win in a big place to strengthen the belief of the squad and continue our march forward,” said Wenger, who was at a loss to explain his team’s recent failures against big teams. “In some games we were close to winning and finally we just lost. For example at Chelsea we lost 2-0. When you watch the game again it’s difficult to understand how we lost apart from the fact they took two great chances. It was a level game. I hope that will give us the belief and the confidence to transfer that into other games.”
City manager Roberto Mancini sprung a surprise by preferring Boyata to Joleon Lescott at centre-back, but the gamble backfired almost immediately when the youngster was dismissed for a professional foul on Marouane Chamakh.
Fifteen minutes later the visitors were in front, Nasri exchanging passes with Andrey Arshavin and rifling high past Joe Hart at the England goalkeeper’s near post. Fabregas should have doubled the lead just before the break but Hart saved superbly from a penalty the Catalan won himself.
Mancini’s own Spaniard, David Silva, had drawn a smart save from Lukasz Fabianski in the very first minute and the £24m summer signing forced a fingertip stop from the Pole as City looked to respond straight after half-time.
But it was Arsenal who struck next, Song pouncing on a loose ball to prod powerfully into the top corner in the 66th minute. Bendtner added gloss to the scoreline with two minutes left when he sprung the offside trap and slotted past Hart with aplomb.
Mancini said: “After today we can say we are one of the best teams in the Premier League. I think with 11 against 11 we would have won.”