Arsenal signifies its strong intent to clinch its first Premier League title in over a decade on Monday night with a 2-1 home win against league crown contenders, Manchester City.
First half goals from rejuvenated strikers, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud was all that Arsene Wenger’s side needed to inflict another defeat to Manuel Pellegrini led side, albeit Yaya Toure’s consolation goal, eight minutes from time sparked an unsuccessful late resurgence.
Although, City had the chances to open the score with Kevin De Bruyne squandering a goal-scoring opportunity after a half an hour, it was Arsenal that eventually took the lead in the 34th minutes when Mesut Ozil fed Walcott on the left edge of the penalty area and the England goal poacher fired the ball exquisitely into the far corner.
Arsenal would double the lead in the first-half stoppage time as a defensive error from Eliaquim Mangala gifted possession to Ozil who, this time fed the ball to Giroud. And the Frenchman striker fired his left footed effort low beneath England keeper Joe Hart for his 10th league goal of the campaign.
Pellegrini has been left frustrated by the defensive lapses that have plagued City this season, especially since the captain, Vincent Kompany sustained injury.
“We took more risks and created chances but you cannot make mistakes in these important games,” Pellegrini said.
The Cityzens, however, pulled a goal back when Toure powerfully found the top corner with his left foot, prompting a late surge from the visitors. But Arsenal held firm and go into the hectic Christmas period with confidence booming.
The defeat at Emirates Stadium means that Manchester City have now not won away in the league since September and have lost three of their last five games on the road.
Arsenal, who have not lost at home in the league since their first match of the season, stay second in the table, two points behind surprise trailblazers Leicester City, but four clear of Pellegrini’s side.
“I believe we have shown… spirit, organisation, brilliance and altogether they gave us the three points,” an elated Wenger declared.
“You could see that there is exceptional life in this team and when we did not have the legs anymore, we relied on spirit and that got us through in the end.”
Manchester City have now lost five games in the league so far and no side has won the title having suffered so many league defeats before Christmas since Everton in 1986-87, although Pellegrini remains coy of his team’s title quest.
“It was an important game but we have 63 more points to play for so I think we have the same option to win the title,” said the Chilean who claimed his side played better than Arsenal.
By Olisemeka Obeche