For match photos, scroll to Photostream above. Scroll down to read manager reactions.
Manchester City closed back up on Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester United with a 2-0 win at Arsenal – where both sides finished with 10 men.
After United’s 2-1 win over Liverpool earlier in the day, the pressure was on Roberto Mancini’s men to deliver or potentially fall out of the title race.
Referee Mike Dean sent off Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny for wrestling Edin Dzeko to the floor, and although the Bosnian’s penalty was saved, via the post, City – who last won in the league at Arsenal in 1975 – took command with first-half goals from James Milner and then a tap-in for Dzeko.
The Gunners, who lost more ground on the top four, regrouped after the break, but were not able to find a way back into the game, even when City captain Vincent Kompany was sent off with 15 minutes left for a two-footed tackle on Jack Wilshere.
The game burst into life in the ninth minute, when Koscielny grappled Dzeko to the floor in the six-yard box, leaving the referee little option but to award a penalty and punish the Arsenal defender with a red card.
The home fans, though, will inevitably have felt a sense of injustice, which was appeased somewhat when Wojciech Szczesny pushed Dzeko’s spot-kick on to the post with his legs – and gratefully collected the ball as it rolled back along the goal-line.
Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was immediately sacrificed as German centre-half Per Mertesacker came into the defence.
After weathering a spell of City pressure, Arsenal finally went on the offensive, with lone striker Theo Walcott, yet to agree a new contract extension, crashing the ball over after it dropped out to the edge of the penalty area following a corner.
City, though, took the lead on 21 minutes when a free-kick was quickly worked out to Carlos Tevez, whose intelligent pass into the Arsenal area split the defence as Milner ran on to smash a rasping diagonal drive in off the far post.
Buoyed by a first Barclays Premier League goal at Emirates Stadium since DaMarcus Beasley’s effort in 2007, City were now in full flow. Javi Garcia nodded wide from 10 yards after another good delivery from Gareth Barry, and just after the half-hour and it was 2-0.
Milner turned provider down the right as his low cross towards the six-yard box was turned goalwards by Tevez. Szczesny made a fine reaction save at full stretch, but could do little as the loose ball dropped to Dzeko who rolled it into an empty net.
Arsenal had to respond quickly to force themselves back into the game and keep alive hopes of closing in on fourth spot, as Podolski’ s snapshot warmed Joe Hart’s hands.
It was almost 3-0 and game over just before half-time when Garcia’s effort was headed off the line by Wilshere and City also started the second half strongly, with Dzeko heading Milner’s deep cross over at the far post as Arsenal called for offside.
Midfielder Abou Diaby – who had been out since September with a thigh problem – was then brought off as Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey came on and Arsenal looked more menacing going forwards, albeit at the risk of being overrun in midfield on the swift counterattack.
Dzeko sent Tevez clear through the middle after breaking down the left, but Szczesny made a brilliant stop as the City striker tried to run around the Arsenal goalkeeper.
At the other end substitute Olivier Giroud headed over from six yards after Bacary Sagna sent over a free-kick from the right, as the home side pressed to gain a foothold in the match
The red card was out again on 75 minutes, this time shown to City captain Kompany when he clattered into Wilshere with his feet raised.
Mancini brought on Joleon Lescott for Tevez and the defender made an immediate impact, denying
Walcott with a vital goal-line clearance. City held on for a gutsy victory that will strengthen their resolve in terms of retaining their title, while Arsenal lie six points off fourth placed Tottenham Hotspur, with a game in hand.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "Overall we started too timid, with not enough authority in a game like that, and allowed them to dictate. We paid very early for that. We didn't start with enough confidence or authority. You have to dictate your personality, especially defensively.
"It is frustrating because the team showed great heart and desire after that, but we were a bit too nervous to play in a serene way at home and that is costing us. The players want to do well, it is just the fact that we need to be a bit more confident in this kind of game. We want to do so well, that we are a bit up-tight.
"[Mikel Arteta, who missed the game after picking up an injury on Saturday] has a scan on Monday, [he will be out for] approximately three weeks. It is a strain on his calf. Of course [it is a blow]. In midfield he gives us stability, experience and tactical knowledge. We will miss that.
"We try very hard [to sign new players], believe me. We have a team around me who analyse everything. We select targets, I watch them, but it is difficult to speak about any names.”
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini: "If you play 10 players, it can be difficult. We started the game very well, played high up and pressed. We wanted to win this.
“It was a good result for us because Arsenal are a very good team. We started very well today, which is important.
“We had an advantage early on because they had a man sent off, which I think was the correct decision, but it is important you score a goal after that and we did.
“I think we had three or four chances to kill the game after the break but were too soft at times. We should have taken at least one of them - we need to take these opportunities when they come along – this was the only disappointing thing.”
“We played well after Vincent [Kompany] went off as we have done against Norwich and West Brom when we were also reduced to ten men so that was pleasing.”
|20 Jan 2013||v Chelsea (A)|
|23 Jan 2013||v West Ham (H)|
|30 Jan 2013||v Liverpool (H)|
|02 Feb 2013||v Stoke (H)|
|09 Feb 2013||v Sunderland (A)|
|23 Feb 2013||v Aston Villa (H)|