LONDON: Lukas Podolski did not mark his first match as captain of Arsenal
by leading them to victory at Manchester City, nor did he extend his
scoring sequence, but a point from a 1:1 draw was satisfying enough in
the end.

Arsenal should and could have won but they went behind in the first
half against the run of play and most of the chances they created fell
to the out-of-touch Gervinho rather than to the latest German to
arrive in north London.

Arsenal came into the match as more of a ‘form team’ than City after
two wins and two draws in their first four fixtures with manager
Arsene Wenger defence looking stronger than for many years and his
attack knife-sharp thanks to summer signing Lukas Podolski who had
scored three goals in his previous three games.

Wenger was full of praise for the former Koln and Bayern forward,
saying: “Podolski is a very sociable guy, always a smile on his face,
happy to be there, helpful and, believe me, he is a clinical finisher.
Last year he scored 20 goals for Koln and they went down. For me that
is worth 30 goals in a club that is dominating a championship.

“It doesn’t mean that he will score 30 for us, because he played as a
central striker last year and for us he plays more on the right or
left side. But we are very happy to have him with us.”

City were without injured ex-Gunner Samir Nasri for a match which,
traditionally, had been tight; three of their four previous meetings
had ended 1:0 either way.

City dropped Carlos Tevez to the subs’ bench and brought in
fit-at-last Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko up front among five changes
from their dramatic Champions League defeat by Real in Madrid. Those
changes appeared to have little effect as Arsenal – with Podolski
succeeding Robin Van Persie as both spearhead and skipper  –
controlled midfield from almost the start of the game.

Thus it was totally against the run of play when City went ahead with
a headed goal by Joleon Lescott. Arsene Wenger scratched his head in
probable disbelief at the injustice of it all as he disappeared down
the tunnel at half-time.

The goal would also have upset assistant Steve Bould who has been
working hard on the training ground to tighten up the Gunners’
defence. Keeper Vito Mannone Lescott made a poor attempt to reach
David Silva’s corner and Lescott found it comparatively simple to rise
above Laurent Koscielny to head home.

Kocsielny made amends by thumping home the late equaliser, punishing a
reciprocal mistake by Lescott who was guilty of a weak clearance.
Arsenal still had some awkward moments to survive but they were well
worth the point which left them in fifth place, above Fulham and
champions City both on goal difference.

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