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  • Arsenal 1-1 Manchester City, Premier League

Flamini redemption halts City charge

ESPN staff
March 29, 2014
Mathieu Flamini celebrates scoring the equaliser against Manchester City - at the same end as his last-minute own goal against Swansea © Getty Images
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Arsenal battled back from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Manchester City at the Emirates, denting their visitors' title hopes and keeping alive their own slim chances.

David Silva had bundled home the opening goal midway through the first half after Edin Dzeko's shot had rebounded off the post into his path, similar to the way in which Dzeko gave City a 43-second lead against Manchester United last time out.

However, rather than build on that advantage as they had done at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening, City were forced on to the backfoot by an Arsenal side looking for their own redemption after a 6-0 defeat by Chelsea and a demoralising 2-2 draw with Swansea in the past eight days.

Mathieu Flamini personified that spirit and made amends for his last-minute own goal against Swansea with the equaliser against City in the second half, sweeping home Lukas Podolski's cross.

With current league leaders Chelsea losing against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park earlier in the day, the real winners could be Liverpool, who will go top of the table if they defeat Tottenham on Sunday. City sit a point behind Liverpool in third, with Arsenal a further three points back having played two games more.

City - who had named an unchanged XI - started brightly as full-back Pablo Zabaleta had some joy down the right before Jesus Navas curled a 20-yard effort just wide.

Arsenal, with Lukas Podolski starting after his goal in the 2-2 draw with Swansea on Tuesday night, just could not sustain any sort of possession as the visitors closed down space quickly.

Arsenal wanted a penalty for this Pablo Zabaleta challenge on Tomas Rosicky © Getty Images
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However, the home supporters felt they should have been awarded a penalty on 12 minutes when Tomas Rosicky went down under a challenge from Zabaleta. There looked to be some contact, but referee Mike Dean pointed for a goal kick.

The sense of injustice galvanised Arsenal, who started to ask more questions of the City rearguard. Man City, though, were lightning on the break and swept into the lead on 18 minutes.

Podolski was dispossessed in midfield, as Silva carried the ball forwards and to the edge of the Arsenal penalty area before feeding Edin Dzeko on the left. His shot cannoned back off the near post, with the ball dropping at Silva's feet and bouncing into the far corner.

Arsenal - thrashed 6-0 at Chelsea to ruin manager Arsene Wenger's 1,000th match last weekend - needed a response to make sure they were not overrun once again in a showdown with a top-four rival.

The ball was in the City net after 21 minutes - but Arsenal midfielder Flamini had already been flagged offside from a deep left-wing cross before he looped his shot over Joe Hart. Yaya Toure, who had a trial at Arsenal as a raw youngster, was booked on 30 minutes for tugging back Rosicky on the break. City skipper Vincent Kompany then also saw a yellow card for body-checking Mikel Arteta.

To their credit, Arsenal were still very much in the contest as half-time approached - with Rosicky the next man cautioned for another full-blooded challenge on former Gunners full-back Gael Clichy.

Silva soon followed after he left a high boot in on Arteta as the Spaniard hacked a clearance away in the Arsenal box.

City almost doubled their lead at the start of the second half when Navas' low cross from the right was spilled by Wojciech Szczesny, and the ball deflected off Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker but just the wrong side of the post.

Santi Cazorla's drive stung the hands of England keeper Hart before Arsenal levelled on 53 minutes.

Patient build-up by the home side was rewarded when the ball was worked out to the left for Podolski, and his low centre into the penalty area was swept into the far corner by Flamini as he arrived on cue 12 yards out.

Arsenal suddenly found another gear, with Sagna's cross from the right flying through the six-yard box. Hart then somehow deflected a fierce angled drive from Podolski behind.

City boss Manuel Pellegrini made a change on 65 minutes as James Milner came on for Navas. Following their dominant spell, Arsenal started to come under more pressure, but showed great resilience - a trait so often missing this season.

With 13 minutes left, Wenger sent on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Podolski, before City substitute Javi Garcia replaced Nasri.

Arsenal continued to push on but City, always dangerous on the counter, were not about to throw away what could just turn out to be a crucial point in their title quest.

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