Arsenal make Premier League top 4 statement against Man City

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 01: Aaron Ramsdale of Arsenal thanks the support during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on January 01, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 01: Aaron Ramsdale of Arsenal thanks the support during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on January 01, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images) /

The disappointment has now dissipated after what can only be described as a huge missed opportunity against Manchester City. Having the visitors in check for large portions of the game, Arsenal took it right to the champions, and two incidents separated the sides at full time.

Granit Xhaka’s pull down on Bernardo Silva caused much conjecture, and Gabriel’s red card after two incidents in the space of a minute saw Arsenal down to ten men for the last half an hour.

While the scoreline will say Arsenal lost the game, what they gained will help fuel their determination to push on in the second half of the campaign.

What Arsenal did to a City side that had won ten games in a row was a sight to behold. For the majority of the first half the Gunners were far the superior side. Hounding and harassing City and pushing them back, full-backs in Takehiro Tomiyasu and Kieran Tierney were camped inside the City half with the visitors overwhelmed.

Arsenal prove they belong in Premier League top 4 race with outstanding performance against Manchester City despite crushing 2-1 defeat

The performance as a whole was magnificent and to do it against the benchmark of the Premier League is a true testament to the process under Mikel Arteta. Given that this team is the youngest in the league, there are going to be brain fades as we saw with Gabriel. For the most part, however, it is all positive.

Despite the loss, the game proved one thing: Arsenal is well and truly in the race for the top four, if not leading the race. Consistency is key for Arteta’s side but they have shown over the last seven to eight weeks that they are capable.

Many will feel a draw would have been a fair result given the circumstances, but in truth, Arsenal could feel hard done by not to get the three points. Manchester City is an incredible team but this young side left nothing out on the turf and can rue to fine details for coming up short. It will instill confidence for future clashes that Arsenal can go toe to toe with the big teams.

The rearguard of Gabriel, White, Tomiyasu, and Tierney kept the highest scoring side in the division to just two shots on target, with one being the penalty. Even down to 10 men, City found it hard to break through a well-organized Arsenal defense.

The midfield battle was won by Arsenal’s triangle of Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey, and Martin Odegaard. All three were superb with Partey leading the way. Odegaard constantly found pockets of space and wreaked havoc on City’s defense with his invention.

For Partey, he looked like a £45m player.

His body feints to get himself out of trouble and to skip away from pressure were a sight to behold as City could not muster a response for the Ghanaian’s power and presence in midfield. The timing of him hitting this form just before AFCON is most unfortunate.

This level of performance from Arsenal is something that we have not seen for years. Truly, years.

Can we expect this every game? Most likely not, but it does show that when the tactics and gameplan are applied by every player, this is the result. On another day, Arsenal could easily have won.

The loss brings Arsenal closer to the chasing pack, with Tottenham able to leapfrog their rivals should they win their two games in hand, which makes the upcoming trip away to Spurs one of the biggest in recent memory.

The result is bitterly disappointing, but the performance is something to be proud of. Many will say that Arsenal still lost and always lose to big teams but based on the evidence of this season when they more than matched Liverpool at Anfield for a half, had the better of Manchester United and City, the gap is slowly closing.

The bigger picture under Arteta is clear for all to see. In the end, however, they’ve still not won these fixtures. That is part of the learning curve. One would hope that in 12 months, those costly little errors will be eradicated from their game. Just like all the tactical elements, that’s part of the learning process.

Next. 4 talking points from 2-1 Man City defeat. dark

Arsenal lost no admirers in this defeat. Instead they won many more. Back in the race for the Premier League top four, which months ago seemed impossible, the Gunners are right in the thick of it. Producing performances of his calibre more regularly is the challenge, and what this display told us is that hope is no longer the key word. This is a team more than capable. We don’t hope they can, we know they can.