Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud were on target as Arsenal picked up a thoroughly impressive and richly-deserved three points at Manchester City on Sunday afternoon.
Arsène Wenger’s side took the lead midway through the first half when Cazorla converted from the spot after Vincent Kompany had obstructed Nacho Monreal. Having dealt with a wave of pressure after the break, the Gunners made the game safe after 67 minutes. This time, Cazorla turned provider sending a free-kick for Giroud to nod beyond Joe Hart. Having showcased the fluid and attacking side to their game in recent matches, this was an organized performance. Arsenal were committed and resilient against the Premier League champions, efficient in possession and disciplined off the ball. The Gunners have been criticized of late for their failure to win big games away from home. They answered those perfectly here, with a first win at the Etihad Stadium since the 2010/11 season. With Southampton, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur all having won on Saturday, this was a crucial result for Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger ,however, did not think his tactics were too far-removed from the way his team usually plays.”Look, we did that many times, believe me,” he told Sky Sports. “I think it’s more down to everybody doing well in their job.”
“As well, what you forget when you say we attack [is] if in some games away from home we’re one or two-nil down after 20 minutes you have no choice other than to open yourself up.”
“Today in the big game the first goal dictates 80 per cent of the times the way of the game. Today we scored first and of course that changes the game as well.”
“You forget that we had many defenders out for the season. You could see today the centre-backs together, they are a good partnership and it takes time to get back to that level. Many players have been out for two or three months to this season.”
Arsenal’s performance was helped by an impressive display by Francis Coquelin, with the midfielder starting his fifth straight match following a loan spell at Charlton Athletic. And though Wenger’s side have been linked with a number of defensive midfielders during the January transfer window, he hinted that Coquelin could be the answer to the club’s issues in that position.
“Look, sometimes the fact that you have to find solutions internally is a blessing and at the moment it works well.”
Arsenal are just one point off the top four and this result will surely give them an injection of momentum in the coming weeks.