By Walter Broeckx
One big surprise when the team sheet came out as Mesut Özil didn’t play as he got a slight hip problem.
So a few changes compared to the starting line up from last week. Welbeck came in the place of Özil but I think he will not play in his position. And at the back we knew that Gabriel started in the place of the injured Mertesacker.
On the bench we had Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla both on the way back from a long injury period.
Team at the start: Cech, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Elneny, Ramsey, Welbeck, Iwobi, Alexis, Giroud
On the bench: Ospina, Gibbs, Coquelin, Wilshere, Cazorla, Campbell, Walcott
Taylor immediately pointing out his standing point from the start. A foul on Bellerin is ignored, a little pull from Giroud is punished. City the most attacking team in the opening minutes. Arsenal not attentive enough and too much looking at the ball and not enough attacking on the ball leading to some space for Aguero and his left footed shot went in the goal. 1-0 to City after 8 minutes.
The first attack from Arsenal caused havoc as Clichy headed the ball back to Hart and it trickled wide shaving the post in a corner. Elneny with the corner and Giroud completely unmarked 6 meters out headed it over the line. GOAL 1-1 after 10 minutes.
City almost in with another chance but Koscielnu could clear. A crazy opening is the least you can say. A loose ball in the Arsenal penalty area and Aguero with the shot but Gabriel diverted it in to a corner. Taylor inventing a foul when Giroud put up his arm to apologise for a bad pass that still went well in the end…
Arsenal kick out the ball as Welbeck is down with an injury just under the knee it seems. He injured himself when blocking a ball. Wilshere came on so that would bring Iwobi to the flank and Jack in the centre. Jack making his first appearance in the PL this season. City with a long ball and Cech coming out far out of his penalty area, Cech half missing the ball but in the end City fire over. Iwobi is punished for a late tackle but when Ramsey has to jump to save his legs to avoid an injury Taylor sees nothing wrong.
The match now more even after half an hour. Mangala heads a corner wide for City. City not as accurate with their passing as in the opening 15 minutes and lots of lost balls. I notice many Arsenal players slipping for no reason. Change the studs in the second half? City with more pressure with some 10 minutes to go. But apart from some corners not much danger from open play. De Bruyne with a shot that ends up in the Arsenal end. At the end of the first half we wend in the dressing room at 1-1.
Fernandinho slipped past the offside trap but his shot went far over from a difficult angle. Fernandino holding Alexis after a free kick and Giroud being pulled back by the short but as usual no penalty for Arsenal. (My match commentators said it was two penalties for Arsenal but non given…. again) . De Bruyne then on a run after a lucky bounce at the start but the Arsenal defenders just let him run and then he kicked it in the goal from outside the penalty area. 2-1 to City after 52 minutes. Ieanechio on a run but he choose the shot and it went wide.
Taylor then stopping a pass from Wilshere with his chest…. bad positioning from the ref… After 58 minutes Walcott came on for Iwobi. Arsenal with an attack and a cross from Monreal but a City defender could just hook it away in front of Giroud. A bit later Giroud with a shot after a good combination between Walcott and Bellerin but it was wild and went over. Walcott away but Otamendi could just cut it out in front of Giroud.
Walcott away but he lifted the ball over Hart but also wide of the goal. Wilshere is fouled in the middle but Taylor gives advantage and Monreal gives it to Alexis who runs through the middle, gives it to Giroud who lays it off for Alexis again and he puts the ball in the net. GOAL! 2-2 after 68 minutes. It came after a long spell where Arsenal was clearly the better team.
De Bruyne on a run but this time Gabriel stops him outside the penalty area at the cost of a yellow card and a free kick. Cech punches the free kick away. Aguero shoots the following corner wide. Aguero with a half volley but it went just wide. After 75 minutes Coquelin came on for Elneny who hadn’t had his best match for Arsenal looking rather slow in his reactions this time.
City looking for the winning goal as that would take them in front of Arsenal in the league table. A draw would secure 3rd place for Arsenal unless we completely would mess up against Aston Villa. Free kick for Arsenal after a foul on Alexis, Giroud heads it again the cross bar but was well offside. City claim a penalty for handball but no movement with the hand so correct non decisions. Bony shoots against the cross bar after a cross. That was a lucky escape.
Otamendi gets a yellow card for a studs showing tackle on Alexis. Fernandino also goes in the book for a late kick on Giroud. The match ended rather desorganised from both teams. Not really good football.
But in the end Arsenal took a draw and that secures at least 4th place and when we win against Aston Villa we will finish in third place. A few players below their usual level this time but we fought back and Giroud with a goal and a great assist my man of the match.