Liga Primer Barclays Att:54409 Minggu, 18 Desember 2016 16.00.00
- Martin Atkinson
- Zabaleta Sagna 46’
- Sané Navas 76’
- De Bruyne Iheanacho 84’
- Cadangan tak terpakai:
- Nolito, Stones, García, Caballero
- de Abreu
- Iwobi (Oxlade-Chamberlain 65 (Elneny 77)
- Coquelin Giroud 75’
- Cadangan tak terpakai:
- Pérez Martínez, Holding, Gibbs, Ospina
Second-half goals from Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling gave City a thoroughly deserved 2-1 win over Arsenal.
The Blues had fallen behind after just five minutes through Theo Walcott, but dug deep and gradually worked their way back into the game and dominated proceedings after the break to move above the Gunners into second spot in the table.
It was an absorbing contest from start to finish with the better team emerging victorious.
City’s Achilles heel in recent months has been missing opportunities and the opening minutes of this encounter underlined the problems the Blues have been encountering at either end of the pitch.
Leroy Sane’s low cross towards Raheem Sterling went begging with nobody on hand as the ball fell invitingly in the six-yard box – and within 30 seconds Arsenal were in front.
Alexis Sanchez found the space to play through Theo Walcott who strode through the middle of the Blues’ back-line before placing a low shot past the stranded Claudio Bravo.
It was a major blow given it was the Gunners’ first attack but City should have been level within three minutes as Kevin De Bruyne’s superb cross found Sterling who headed wide from six yards.
It was harsh on City who had played some good football and looked dangerous with almost every attack, but it was further evidence that you are punished if you don’t convert your opportunities.
The rest of the half was fairly equal without either side creating any clear cut chances until shortly before half-time when Sane nutmegged Nacho Monreal and sent in a low cross that De Bruyne was inches away from converting.
That was the last meaningful action of a half the Blues didn’t deserve to be behind in – but within two minutes of the re-start, the scores were level.
Petr Cech’s goal-kick was won by Fernando on the halfway line and Silva collected the ball before chipping a pass to Sane who raced clear and coolly placed the ball past the Arsenal keeper to send the Etihad wild.
Suddenly, the Gunners, defending in numbers, were pinned back in their own half and almost camped on the edge of their own box and City probed and just past the hour Sane came close to putting the host in front as he chased De Bruyne’s pass only to be denied by Cech.
Sterling went close with a low drive from 20 yards and Sane came within an ace of racing clear again, only to slightly overrun the ball.
Then De Bruyne’s low shot took a deflection that seemed to be fizzing towards the bottom corner but Cech got down smartly to palm the shot wide.
It was all City and it seemed a second goal had to arrive sooner or later – and on 71 minutes, it finally did.
De Bruyne sent a sweeping ball out to the right flank where Sterling collected the ball, jinked past Monreal and then fired a low shot past Cech to give the Blues a thoroughly deserved lead.
The Belgian then came close to adding a third soon after as his effort from Jesus Navas’ cross struck the outside of the post before KDB left the pitch to a standing ovation.
City controlled the final few moments with little threat from the visitors who seemed to have run out of ideas by the final whistle. The Blues' dominance had seemingly knocked the stuffing out of the North London side who save now suffered successive away defeats inside a week.
Star man: Raheem Sterling
But it was the livewire Sterling who caught the eye with his trickery and winning goal just edging the vote on the City Matchday App..
What it means
City can go into the festive period full of confidence after back-to-back wins in the space of five days. Crucially, the deficit with Chelsea has not increased while the Blues have overtaken Arsenal into second spot – at least for 24 hours.
More importantly, City never stopped working and creating chances - the mini-blip in form has now seen back-to-back home wins for the first time in three months.
City travel to Hull on Boxing Day to face the Premier League’s bottom club.
The good news is Fernandinho will be available after serving the last of his three-match suspension against Arsenal. Sergio Aguero will serve the last of his four-game ban against the Tigers. Then the Blues face another crucial top-of-the-table test away to Liverpool on New Year’s Eve before rounding the festive programme off against Burnley on 2 January.