LONDON: Arsene Wenger’s decision to prefer Laurent Koscielny in the centre of defence to Per Mertesacker misfired as the Gunners subsided into a 2-0 defeat at home to Manchester City in the Premier League.
City secured their first league win at Arsenal for the first time in 37 years despite the late expulsion of skipper Vincent Kompany.
That only levelled up the numbers on the pitchc since Koscielny had been shown a red card of his own by referee Mike Dean for wrestling Edin Dzeko to the ground after a mere eight minutes. The decision effectively decided the outcome even though Dzeko missed the penalty.
The Bosnian’s spot-kick ricocheted off Wojciech Szczesny against a post and the Poland goalkeeper grabbed the rebound.
Oddly, Arsenal had missed all their own last three penalties against Manchester City.
Arsenal’s respite did not last long.
Manager Wenger sent on Mertesacker in central defence at the cost of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in attack but the handicap of being down to 10 men so earlier offered City control of the game and decisive goals from England midfielder James Milner after 21min on a Carlos Tevez assist. The goal followed a free kick for a foul by Lukas Podolski on Javi Garcia.
Tevez proved much too much for Arsenal. In the 23nd minute his shot was only parried by Szczesny and Dzeko tapped in the rebound.
At half-time it could have been ever worse for Arsenal but midfielder Jack Wilshere headed a Javi Garcia effort off the goal-line with Szczesny beaten.
At the other end Podolski tried his best for Arsenal with minimal support. He put in a left-foot shot which was saved sharply by Joe Hart and then produced a dangerous cross which City cleared off the head of lone striker Theo Walcott. But he made little impression otherwise and was, not surprisingly, substituted 12 minutes into the second half.
Tevez should have made it 3-0 after 70 minutes when Dzeko played him clear through the middle but he delayed his shot just too long as Szczesny pushed the ball off his feet.
Referee Mike Dean levelled up the numbers when he sent off Vincent Kompany in the 74th minute for a dangerous tackle on Wilshere. City’s skipper had already been shown a yellow card but he was sent off on a straight red and will miss games against Fulham, QPR and Liverpool.
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