Report: Man. City 0-3 Arsenal
Arsenal moved up to second in the Premier League with a brave and relatively ruthless 3-0 win over Manchester City at Eastlands.
In a game that was expected to be a test of both sides’ credentials at the top end of the table, the contest became an uphill struggle for City as Dedryck Boyata saw red after just five minutes, following a professional foul on Marouane Chamakh.
The Gunners did not immediately take advantage of their numerical superiority but were in front after 20 minutes when Samir Nasri played an excellent one-two with Andrey Arshavin to fire past the helpless Joe Hart.
Hart was the hero five minutes before the break though, as at full stretch he managed to keep out a Cesc Fabregas penalty after the Spanish midfielder had been brought down in the area by Vincent Kompany.
City battled valiantly but gaps began to appear in the second half and Alex Song finished emphatically in the 66th minute, before substitute Nicklas Bendtner put the gloss on with a cool effort in the dying stages after being fed through by Nasri.
The momentum all appeared to be with City prior to the match, which was preceded by a memorial service and minute’s applause for their late manager Malcolm Allison.
David Silva could have put Arsenal behind after just 59 seconds if not for a smart save from Fabianski after the Spaniard looked to flick home Tevez’s low cross.
But within five minutes into the match, fortunes perhaps turned in Arsenal’s favour as Boyata was rightly sent off for a last-ditch tackle on Chanmakh who had been teed up by Fabregas.
Even so, Wenger’s men failed to immediately capitalize on their numerical advantage and indeed, City, through the menace of Tevez and Silva, forced a couple of heart-in-mouth moments in Arsenal’s defense before the Gunners grabbed the big goal after 20 minutes.
Nasri continued his recent excellent form as he picked up the ball outside the area on the right, before playing a quick one-two with Arshavin and finishing emphatically past Hart.
Arsenal were then in the ascendancy but almost paid the price after switching off at the other end when the lively Micah Richards raced through to cut inside and hit a left-foot curling effort which flew past the far post.
The opening period continued to be played out in a fiery manner and in the 40th minute the away side were handed a gilt-edged chance to put the game to bed when Kompany brought down Fabregas just inside the area.
The Gunners captain stepped up to take the resulting penalty but was denied by a great save from Hart, who dived to his left and at full stretch managed to get both hands to the ball to keep City in the game.
Mancini made a change at the break as Toure made way for Wayne Bridge, but Arsenal came out firing and Fabregas almost doubled the lead in the 48th minute but instead scuffed his effort straight at Hart from inside the area after good work from Chamakh and Nasri.
Mancini was then forced to make a change as Tevez, who was struggling with a knock in the first half, came off for Adebayor, to an obvious mixed reception from the two sets of supporters.
And the arrival of the Togolese striker lifted the home fans at Eastlands and the team responded in a positive manner.
Fabianski denied Silva with a fine stop in the 57th minute, as the Spaniard drove into the box from the right to poke a shot that was flying into the bottom corner, and from the resulting corner Adebayor had a great chance to pull one back but headed over.
Soon the Gunners had breathing space as Alex Song netted a crucial second in the 66th minute – smashing the ball into the top corner after an unlucky ricochet off Bridge into his path.
A succession of changes saw Tomas Rosicky come on for Arshavin, before Gareth Barry made way for Mario Balotelli. Bendtner and Theo Walcott were then brought on for Chamakh and Fabregas.
The icing on the cake for the Gunners came in the 88th minute when Bendtner produced a lovely finish after beating the offside trap thanks to a nice pass from Nasri.
There was still time for Adebayor to miss a chance and Fabianski to deny Boateng with a fine stop, but the game was already won.