ARSENAL 0, MANCHESTER CITY 1
A top class counter attack by Manchester City ended Arsenal’s run in the Carling Cup as Sergio Aguero’s goal finally despatched the Gunners who had threatened to make things difficult for a City side that seemed ring rusty during long periods of the contest.
It was the high point in a game that struggled for momentum as City laboured at times against Arsene Wenger’s youngsters.
“All the players on the pitch were good players.” said Roberto Mancini as he defended both his and Arsene Wenger’s decision to put out second string sides for the game. “I needed to change players because we only played 2 days ago and last week we were playing in the Champions League.”
“Arsenal had Chamakh and Gervinho who are very good players. I only had Aguero and Dzeko because Mario Balotelli was suspended.” smiled the Italian.
“It looks good if we win the Carling Cup, otherwise we’ve wasted our time.”
Both sides had put out a second string line out – with several young and promising talents on show by Arsenal alongside the reserves sent out by both sides, but it was Samir Nasri’s first appearance back at the Emirates Stadium since his departure for the Etihad Stadium that really gave the home fans something to shout about.
The French midfielder got a torrid welcome from most of the Emirates crowd and the Gunners were buoyed by the support and went on to create first half chances for Park Chu-Yong and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
City’s stand-in goalkeeper, the Romanian Costel Pantilimon, at 6’8″ the tallest player in the Barclays Premier League this season, also had to stretch to save from Marouane Chamakh’s dipping first half volley as he proved himself to be a worthy backup for Joe Hart. The Gunners probably had the upper hand throughout much of the game man for man but despite the second half introduction of Gervinho they couldn’t score.
Aleksandar Kolarov ‘s injury forced the first half introduction of Sergio Aguero and the Argentine striker lent more support to Edin Dzeko who had proved to be City’s greatest threat to the Gunner’s defence with his physical presence.
The Bosnian eventually had a hand in the 83rd minute winner for City when he drove past a couple of defenders and found Adam Johnson in space. The winger turned on the edge of the area and provided a great ball for Aguero whose finish finally deflated the Gunners.