Arsenal 1, Manchester City 2
Rodri scored an injury time winner for Man City in a game in which VAR had a say in two penalties and Gabriel was sent off for Arsenal.Embed from Getty Images
Arsenal defender Gabriel was sent off after Manchester City fought back to cancel out Bukayo Saka’s opener with a Riyad Mahrez penalty before City won it in added time to extend their Premier League winning run to 11.
And it was the first time that City had won a Premier League match they had been trailing in at half time since November 2017.
The Gunners were on top against an under-Par City side but they blotted their own copy book after Gabriel was sent off for two bookable offences within a couple of minutes of the awarding of the spot kick which was a hotly disputed VAR call.
Arsenal had been causing City no end of trouble until Gabriel became the 100th Arsenal player to be sent off in the Premier League.
In fact, Arsenal had a penalty claim of their own turned down by VAR earlier and also several near misses by a very dangerous Gabriel Martinelli including one that needed a goal line clearance by Nathan Ake after he tried to chase down a misdirected header by Aymeric Laporte.
But City eventually held on to notch a 21st away win from 24 and to go 11 points clear in the Premier League with their latest Premier League goal since a Gabriel Jesus winner at Southampton in May 2018.
City boss Pep Guardiola conceded Arsenal, who had six days rest while City had to grind out a result at Brentford, were the better team today but admitted that the result could have gone either way.
He admitted: “Arsenal was better today.
“We are not a team to score goals in extra time. I don’t remember the last time we scored that late.
“Football happened and in that situation sometimes it goes comes on our side.”
Guardiola also admitted that City were tired after playing an extra game since Arsenal last played, adding: “We didn’t have energy, but we tried.
“Look at our bench today, [we had] four guys from the academy. We have had many cases of COVID – Kyle Walker only just back.”
He claimed not to have seen the VAR incident for Martin Odegaard’s penalty shout, saying: “I didn’t see the penalty for Odegaard – they didn’t show it on the screen but they did for Bernardo.
“‘[Winning] eleven games in a row is so great, especially in this period.”
Assistant boss Albert Stuivenberg took charge of the Arsenal team during Gunners boss Mikel Arteta’s absence through COVID.
Rodri returned to fitness to replace Fernandinho in midfield as City made three changes from the side that beat Brentford – adding Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling to the side.
Jack Grealish was dropped to the bench while Phil Foden was dropped from the match day squad along with John Stones, and Oleksandr Zinchenko – all were deemed ‘not fit enough to play’.
They were left out of the match day squad as Kyle Walker, Kayky, and James McAtee were named on the bench alongside Cole Palmer and Luke Mbete.
But one City player who could have missed out but was kept in the side with Walker not fully fit was Joao Cancelo.
Cancelo was caught up in a burglary at his home and suffered facial injuries trying to defend his family but he passed himself fit to play just days after the shock incident.
City boss Pep Guardiola said: “It was a real tough moment for him and his family, it was really scary.
He added: “He feels good and said he was ready to play.”
Under-par Manchester City summon injury time winner to extend winning Premier League run
Gabriel Jesus headed wide from a corner routine as Arsenal were amply warned not to take it easy in the opening minutes at the Emirates.
But the Gunners were more dangerous on the break as City couldn’t keep hold of the ball and Ederson was not penalised after a VAR check on a penalty shout opted to go with the original referee decision of no penalty as Martin Odegaard raced onto a through ball which was blocked after the Brazilian came off his line.
Pep Guardiola was furious with his side’s slack start but Ruben Dias headed Raheem Sterling’s cross wide as City began to profit from balls into the box.
Gabriel Martinelli forced a save from Ederson as City couldn’t keep hold of the ball, although the Brazilian was offside anyway.
De Bruyne curled a shot wide as both sides attacked each other throughout the first half.
But the battle continued until the Gunners opened the scoring after 31 minutes with a swept finish by Bukayo Saka after Keiran Tierney picked him out with a left wing cross.
It was the 7th goal of the season for Saka and his fourth goal in his last three games for the in-form England man.
And Martinelli might have made it 2-0 with long range efforts from wide on the left as City struggled to find cohesion with poor passes costing them possession.
Bernardo Silva want down following a shirt pull and a possible trip from Granit Xhaka after another action packed start to the second half.
VAR requested a pitch side review of the incident and Xhaka was subsequently booked and the penalty was awarded by Stuart Attwell.
Riyad Mahrez stepped up and fired in the equaliser into the top right corner.
Martinelli thought he had put the Gunners back into the lead but Nathan Ake made a massive clearance off the line before he could reach a poorly directed Laporte back header.
And things got even worse barely a minute later when Gabriel was sent off for a second booking after clattering Gabriel Jesus from the goal kick by Ederson.
Rob Holding was brought on to replace Odegaard while Ilkay Gundogan replaced Jesus as City anticipated a change in tactics from the 10 men of Arsenal.
City looked more fluid in midfield and although Sterling was wide with the shooting the visitors immediately looked more confident.
Emile Smith Rowe replaced Alexandre Lacazette with 19 minutes to go as the Gunners put Martinelli up front to use his pace on the break.
Ederson had to make a last ditch clearance after casual defending by City almost let Martinelli in for a shot after Thomas Partey attacked up the Arsenal left flank.
The game ended with City in control, Arsenal took off Saka for Mohamed Elneny as they looked to preserve the point.
Cancelo’s late shot was blocked by Partey before Rodri stabbed home the winner after De Bruyne’s curling cross into the area was headed into the danger zone by Rob Holding where Aymeric Laporte’s shot blocked but the ball fell into the path of the big midfielder who made no mistake from close range for his third goal of the season.
Mahrez could have made it 3-1 after a late breakaway but fell over in the box after losing his bearings.
GOALS – Arsenal 1, Manchester City 2
Arsenal 1, Man City 0: 31. Bukayo Saka finished well with a left foot finish after coming in from the right to meet Kieran Tierney’s left wing cross.
Arsenal 1, Man City 1: 57. Riyad Mahrez slotted home the spot kick into the top right corner
Arsenal 1, Man City 2: 90+3. Rodri stabbed home the rebound after Granit Xhaka blocked Aymeric Laporte’s initial shot at close range following an enticing cross into the box by Kevin De Bruyne was headed into the danger zone by Rob Holding.
MATCH STATS – Arsenal 1, Manchester City 2
Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney, Partey, Xhaka, Saka (Elneny 84), Odegaard (Holding 62), Martinelli, Lacazette (C) (Smith Rowe 71)
Arsenal subs not used: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Cedric, Pepe, Tavares, Sambi Lokonga
Bookings: Xhaka 55 (trip and shirt pull on Bernardo Silva); Gabriel 57 (unsporting behaviour, scuffing up the penalty spot); Gabriel 59 (clattering Gabriel Jesus); Saka 64 (demanding a yellow card for Rodri); Holding 69 (foul on Kevin de Bruyne).
Sent off: Gabriel 59 (second booking after clattering Gabriel Jesus from a City goal kick).
Goal: Saka 31
Man City: Ederson, Cancelo, Dias (C), Laporte, Ake, De Bruyne, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, Mahrez, Jesus (Gundogan 63), Sterling
Man City subs not used: Steffen, Walker, Grealish, Fernandinho, Kayky, Mbete, Palmer, McAtee
Booking: Bernardo Silva 90+5 (kicking the ball away); Rodri 90+4 (taking his shirt off after scoring his goal)
Goals: Mahrez 57 pen; Rodri 90+3
Referee: Stuart Attwell