Arsenal FC Barclays Premier League

Playing With Fire

3:10 PMAleks Vee

Szczesny saves Dzeko's penalty.
Unlucky Gunners Fail to Deliver 

As one of this week's biggest games, the Arsenal-Manchester City match was sure to have its share of drama, goals, and the occasional refereeing mishap. Emirates Stadium saw all three. With controversial referee Mike Dean officiating the game, things got out of hand early on. He's given out 6 red cards in his past 6 games, and he's been known to start a card party. Less than ten minutes into the game, Koscielny was sent off for holding and pulling down Dzeko in the box. While giving the penalty was a no-brainer, the red card seemed a debatable decision. (Edit: Replays showed that Dzeko was indeed denied a goal-scoring opportunity.) Earlier this season, Jack Wilshere was the first to succumb to Dean's refereeing wits as he earned a second yellow for a supposed foul on Patrice Evra. Some fairness was restored in today's match as Dzeko's penalty bounced off Szczesny's leg, hovering near the goal line before the keeper took the ball. Down to ten men for the rest of the match, the Gunners tried frantically to regain possession and, at times, attempted to create chances. One could assume that even with a full 11, there was little doubt that City would put up a bigger fight. The crowd would have to be the 13th player and offer the Gunners their moral support. Set pieces and occasional counters are usually the go-to solutions, but unlike Manchester United, Arsenal have not been able to come back into the game on a regular basis. Their past games have shown hopes of a reawakening, but the fulfillment of that has been rather unsteady. Ironically, it was Manchester City, and not Arsenal, that made use of their set piece. Carlos Tevez's delivery gave James Milner a beautiful chip into the far post, proving that City can score and stay sharp without Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero. Just like Liverpool's goal against Manchester United, City's goal against the Gunners was a warning signal. Another flop would lead to another goal against the home team. Wenger had brought on Mertesacker earlier to crank up the defense, but the second goal in Szczesny's net was in part his responsibility. The ball bounced off Mertesacker's leg, forcing the keeper to dive in for the save just as Dzeko was running up - a second reminder that this was Roberto Mancini's game. If there was a positive aspect to Arsenal's game, it was the unexpected series of attempts by Lukas Podolski, and Jack Wilshere's defending on the goal line alongside Szczesny.

One against six: Podolski battles for the ball.
Arsenal were no better off in the second half. It was a true survival of the fittest, and City was the better to put on pressure. Mancini's team were the pinball wizards of the match, passing the ball around to their liking. Giroud's involvement for Arsenal, though at times productive, wasn't enough to get his team a goal. As usual, Mike Dean had to have the final say, and Manchester City was seeing red late in the game. The sending off of Vincent Kompany was a difficult decision to make from Dean's angle, however. Watching the replays, it is evident that Kompany was going for the ball and did not have much contact with Wilshere; the Arsenal player fell entirely on his own. As the last minutes of the game pitted ten against ten, Arsenal made use of a "last chance for romance". Walcott would have scored if not for Lescott, whose defending mirrored that of Wilshere's in the first half. It was unfortunate that the match was stifled from living up to expectations, and it would certainly be a treat for both fans to see these teams meet again with more competent refereeing.

English Premier League - 22nd Match Week
Saturday, January 13, 2013, 11:00AM EST

Arsenal vs. Manchester City - 0:2 (0:2)
Venue: Emirates Stadium (London)
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)
0:1 James Milner (Asst. Carlos Tevez) (21')
0:2 Edin Dzeko (32')

Half Time Stats:
Shots on target: 1:8
Shots off target: 3:5
Fouls committed: 4:5
Yellow cards: 1:0
Red cards: 1:0
Corners: 1:5
Offsides: 1:1
Possession: 38:62

Full Time Stats:
Shots on target: 4:10
Shots off target: 5:7
Fouls committed: 11:18
Yellow cards: 2:4
Red cards: 1:1
Corners: 2:7
Offsides: 3:2
Possession: 46:54

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