Man City proves too much for Arsenal
Manchester City capitalized on Laurent Koscielny's early sending-off to canter to a first league victory at Arsenal in 38 years, with Sunday's 2-0 win keeping the defending champions seven points behind Manchester United in the Premier League title race.
The France center back was shown a straight red card for rugby-tackling Edin Dzeko to the ground inside the area, leaving Arsenal a man down with just nine minutes gone.
Dzeko's resulting penalty was saved - via the post - by Wojciech Szczesny, but the Bosnia striker made amends by adding to James Milner's opener to give City a 2-0 lead after 32 minutes.
"I don't know if it was a red card but it was a penalty," Dzeko told Sky Sports 1. "I didn't score but I knew I was going to score after. I said to myself 'you have missed but are playing well'. I knew I would score when I had the chance."
With Sergio Aguero injured, Dzeko has stepped up from the bench and is City's leading scorer this season.
"It's very important for me to play some games. I have started four in a row now and have scored four," he said. "I am happy but the team is important."
One black spot for City was the late sending off of captain Vincent Kompany for a two-footed tackle on Jack Wilshere.
"It's hard to say if it was the right decision at that pace," said Milner. "I would have to see it again. But this is a tough place to come. We've not had much success in the past, we needed to put that right and did."
The visitors also ended the game with 10 men after captain Vincent Kompany was red-carded for a wild two-footed challenge on Jack Wilshere, even though he got the ball.
City's record at Arsenal was so bad that the champions had to go back to 1975 for their last league win at the home of the London club. They hadn't even scored a goal in their last five league visits to Emirates Stadium.
However, there was only going to be one winner once Koscielny was dismissed for wrestling Dzeko to the ground as they competed for a ball that had been flicked back into the penalty box.
Koscielny's vehement protests at referee Mike Dean were in vain and although Szczesny saved Dzeko's penalty with his feet, with the ball rebounding off the post and back into the goalkeeper's arms, the respite was brief.
Milner, one of manager Roberto Mancini's go-to men in big games, rifled a fine finish in off the post in the 21st minute after being fed by Carlos Tevez's no-look pass, and then helped set up Dzeko's goal.
Tevez saw his flicked shot from Milner's low cross palmed away by Szczesny but only into the path of Dzeko, who tapped into an empty net.
Jack Wilshere cleared Javi Garcia's header off the line in the final moments of the first half as City continued to press and it was more of the same in the second half until Kompany's red card for diving in two-footed toward Wilshere.
It gave Arsenal a fighting chance of salvaging something from the match - and substitute Olivier Giroud should have done better than heading a free kick over from eight yards out - but City held on.
Kompany's three-match ban will cause him to miss Premier League games against Fulham and Queens Park Rangers as well as the FA Cup fourth-round match at Crystal Palace or Stoke. It leaves City deprived of another leading player, with midfielder Yaya Toure at the African Nations Cup potentially until mid-February.