It may be another controversial and luck-inflicted loss, but unlike a fortnight ago at Old Trafford, Arsenal really did suffer an ‘in your face’ defeat today.
Arsene Wenger and his men can hardly deny that because they knew there were several points to prove at Eastlands today. Primarily, they had to banish the old notion that a strongly emerging Manchester City side was on course to replace them in the top four.
The Gunners also had to make up for last season’s 3-0 embarrassment on today’s ground while there was a fiery reunion with Toure and Adebayor to take care of. The latter – eager to prove his own point to former employers – had to be calmed at all cost. Just a sniff at goal for Adebayor and the new foe had bragging rights.
But indeed, it was exactly the nightmarish day many had dreaded which took place.
City humbled Arsenal 4-2 in almost convincing fashion as far as the ‘top four race’ is concerned and Adebayor managed to get on the score sheet.
Expectedly, Hughes men looked more like the side in the mood from kick-off and a below-par Arsenal went into the break trailing to a Richards header which bounced off the post and Almunia’s back after 20 minutes.
Therefore, a fit-again Rosicky did not remain on the bench for too long and to mark his return since January 2008, the Czech star teed up Van Persie who incredibly managed to beat Lescott and then Shay Given with a clean finish after 62 minutes.
Arsenal now had all three points back in sight as they pressured City for a lead. But the Gunners’ return into the ascendancy was undone in the 74th minute when Wright-Phillips’ pass found Bellamy, who swept home to send the entire stadium back in ecstasy.
Arsenal were back on desperate gear again, their full urgency in attack but lack of awareness at the back saw Adebayor beat three Gunners and set up a tap-in for Wright-Phillips who shockingly missed from no man’s land.
Moments later, Arsenal would be severely punished for their continued lack of presence in defense as a cross found no one else but Emmanuel Adebayor unmarked.
The outcome was inevitable.
Adebayor headed past Almunia, raced to the Arsenal supporters’ location and slid on the ground to utter the ultimate ‘in your face’ insult to his old fans.
As if that was enough humiliation for Arsenal, their naive back line helped Wright-Phillips add salt to wounds with a fourth goal.
And ironically, with two minutes of regulation time left, the duo who had forced Arsenal’s only goal of the game nearly forced an absurd comeback.
First, Rosicky netted with a neat finish past Given on 88 minutes, and soon after, Van Persie curled a shot onto the post.
It was indeed too little too late at 4-2, but the Dutchman still added to his misses with a goal bound effort which was parried off the line.
There was no salvaging from this major collapse though.