City thrashes Arsenal 6-3 to throw open title race
Manchester City delivered another devastating attacking display
to beat Premier League leader Arsenal 6-3 in a wild shootout on
Saturday, leaving the chastened leaders in range of the chasing
pack in the title race.
After putting four goals past Manchester United and six past
Tottenham at Etihad Stadium this season, City dismantled another of
its main rivals for an eighth straight home win that showed just
why Manuel Pellegrini’s freescoring team is most pundits’ favorites
for the title.
Arsenal, weary after a grueling Champions League defeat at
Napoli on Wednesday, was breached by prolific strikers Sergio
Aguero and Alvaro Negredo in the first half and disintegrated after
the break as Fernandinho (two), David Silva and Yaya Toure
plundered more goals.
Pellegrini’s players are living up to their tag as the Premier
League’s entertainers – they have scored 35 goals in eight matches
at the Etihad and are now just three points off Arsenal.
”At times the tempo was frightening,” City captain Vincent
Kompany said. ”It is a real fortress here.”
Arsenal arrived in Manchester with the league’s stingiest
defense and left with its title credentials back under the
Theo Walcott scored twice, to make it 1-1 and 3-2, with Per
Mertesacker grabbing the Gunners’ other goal in second-half
stoppage time. But they were ripped apart by City’s sparkling
forward department, reviving memories of their 8-2 loss at
Manchester United in August 2011.
This was Arsenal’s third high-intensity match in the space of
seven days, having drawn 1-1 with Everton last weekend, and they
have clearly taken their toll. Thankfully for the creaking leaders,
they have a much-needed nine-day break before playing Chelsea
”Our strength until now was our defensive discipline and that
went as the game went on,” said Wenger, who refused to use the
short turnaround from the Napoli game as an excuse.
”It was 6-3 but what hurts me more is that we had an
opportunity to put Man City at nine points (behind). It’s three
tonight and that’s difficult to swallow.”
City’s confidence couldn’t be higher at the moment – even its
second-choice team beat reigning champion Bayern Munich 3-2 in the
Champions League in midweek. And goals are coming from all areas,
with Brazilian defensive midfielder Fernandinho finding time to
maraud forward and join the party here.
”For me, it’s very important to be an entertaining team,” City
manager Manuel Pellegrini said. ”There are managers who prefer to
score one goal, hold their team back and try to counter attack. Our
philosophy is to continue trying to score more goals. That’s the
best way to win.”
With its away form slowly improving, City appears to be the team
to beat in what is proving to be an open, exciting title race. The
only negative was the sight of Aguero hobbling off with a right
calf injury at the start of the second half. He will have a scan on
The omens weren’t good for Arsenal from the very first minutes,
with the visitors pinned back in their own half and City’s
overpowering midfield sharper both in possession and off the
Fernandinho delivered arguably his best performance since
joining from Shakhtar Donetsk in the offseason and the return from
injury of playmaker Silva added even more guile.
The last thing Arsenal’s tired backline needed was to deal with
a sprightly Aguero and the Argentina striker continued his
brilliant scoring run by volleying in expertly in the 14th minute
after Samir Nasri’s corner was flicked in at the near post by
Martin Demichelis. It was Aguero’s 19th goal in 20 matches in all
Walcott equalized against the run of play in the 31st, meeting
Mesut Ozil’s cut-back with a sidefooted shot that took a slight
deflection off Demichelis.
Back came City, though, Negredo guided home a cross by the
galloping Pablo Zabaleta in the 39th. Worse for Arsenal, key
defender Laurent Koscielny sustained a deep laceration to his left
knee as he attempted to cut out the cross and was carried off on a
Aguero hobbling off in the 48th didn’t hamper City, with
Fernandinho making it 3-1 within two minutes after Mathieu Flamini
failed to collect Ozil’s pass across the face of the area. The
Brazilian seized on the mistake and curled in a fine finish from 25
yards for his first City goal.
Walcott, making his first start since September, curled a
brilliant shot past Costel Pantilimon from an angle in the 63rd
minute but City wasn’t to be denied as Jesus Navas set up fellow
Spaniard Silva for the fourth in the 66th and Fernandinho made it
5-2 in the 88th.
Mertesacker replied at the start of injury time with a header
but Toure had the final say, sweeping home a penalty after James
Milner was tripped by Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.