Recent seasons have seen the rivalry between Manchester City and Arsenal develop into one of the bitterest feuds in the land. Any bonhomie that might have existed between the two clubs thanks to the old adage ‘the enemy of your enemy is your friend’ in the days when Arsenal used to challenge City’s cross town rivals Manchester United for league titles, is well and truly dead. A series of high profile yet acrimonious player transfers from North London to Eastlands have heightened the mutual animosity and have led to a number of ill-tempered clashes between the two.
One such clash was played out on 12th September, 2009, when City hosted Gunners at the erstwhile City of Manchester Stadium in an early season league encounter. Both the sides were in good scoring form coming into this tie and it showed in a surprisingly open game on this autumn afternoon.
In the first half, Micah Richards powered in a header from a set-piece to give City the lead somewhat against the run of play. The goal though would later be accounted as a Manuel Almunia own goal as the ball ricocheted off the hapless keeper’s head. Arsenal came out in the second half with all guns blazing and would get their just reward when Robin van Persie swiveled outside the box and sent in a low right footed drive into the far corner of the net. City’s response would be swift and incisive as Craig Bellamy, Emmanuel Adebayor and Shaun Wright-Phillips scored in quick succession to put the game beyond Arsenal’s reach. The Gunners would grab a consolation strike from returning Thomas Rosicky late on in the game but it would fail to take the sheen of the celebrations among the City players and supporters that afternoon.
Unfortunately though, footballing action was not the entire story of the game. Adebayor, who had switched from Arsenal to City in the summer, would earn the wrath of FA due to his stamp on ex-teammate van Persie and his recklessly provocative celebrations in front of the visiting supporters after his goal. The governing body would retrospectively ban him for three matches for his unsporting conduct.