Match Report: Arsenal 3-2 Man City

Theo v City

A serious-looking injury to Gabriel Paulista cast a shadow over what had been an exhilarating exhibition encounter in Gothenburg that ended in a 3-2 victory for Arsenal over domestic rivals Manchester City.

The Brazilian defender crumbled in a heap during second half injury time with what was believed to be ankle ligament damage, cruelly throwing into doubt the player’s short term future at the club whilst also plunging the club into a defensive injury crisis one week before the league campaign kicks off next weekend.

The game that preceded Gabriel’s injury had been a highly enjoyable one, however, with the Gunners overturning a 1-0 half-time deficit to win the game 3-2 thanks to goals from Alex Iwobi, Theo Walcott and Chuba Akpom. Sergio Aguero had put the Manchester club ahead in the first half before Kelechi Iheanacho grabbed a late consolation.

After routing Viking FK in Norway on Friday evening by eight goals to nil, Arsenal travelled across the border to Sweden in buoyant mood and were able to field returning pair Aaron Ramsey and Alexis Sanchez for the first time this summer after both had enjoyed extended holidays following their international excursions. City, meanwhile, were unable to field new signings Ilkay Gundogan or Leroy Sane and their own defensive issues meant Serbian full-back Aleksander Kolarov was forced to play in the centre of defence.

However, with the likes of David Silva and Sergio Aguero fit and available Pep Guardiola’s men were always going to pose a threat, and after a series of missed chances from Arsenal the Citizens were able to take the lead midway through the first half through their Argentinian talisman. After Aaron Ramsey headed over, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain chipped his effort wide of the post and Francis Coquelin had his shot blocked on the line, Aguero was able to punish the Gunners by drawing away from Gabriel in the box to poke home a simple finish from Raheem Sterling’s cross.

Arsenal had enjoyed most of the good play in the first half but suffered from a lack of clinicalness in front of goal and some defensive lapses at the back, two problems that have dogged them for some time. The game was being played at a quick pace reminiscent of a Premier League and both managers will have been pleased with the exertions of both of their sides.

Half time came and went and Arsenal looked to get back into the game as soon as possible, and after some good work from Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi, they did. Breaking on the counter, Walcott was able to find space down the right flank and after seeing his Nigerian teammate free on the opposite flank, he played a ball across to the young winger who was able to apply a powerful finish into the far corner. Joe Hart got his fingertips to the effort but was unable to divert the ball wide.

Arsenal continued to dominate most of play whilst City retained some threat in their attack, but in the end it was Walcott who went from provider to scorer as he hit his second strike in as many games. Making a run from the right wing into the heart of the City defence, he was cleverly picked out via a perfectly weighted ball from Alexis Sanchez before instinctively dinking the ball over an onrushing Hart. Arsenal had turned the game around within half an hour of the restart and were good value for their lead.

Minutes later substitute Yaya Toure had a chance to bring the game level once more, but after recieving possession inside the edge of the area he couldn’t control his effort and skied the shot high over the bar. Arsenal were able to capitalize on this miss shortly after after some terrible defensive work from the opposition, and after pressure from Walcott saw the ball move into Santi Cazorla’s pass before being rebounded by Hart, it was that man Chuba Akpom on hand again to apply the simplest of finishes. That goal made it four in four games for the youngster.

Arsenal were cruising at this point and most fans thought they had the game won, but City still made the final minutes nervous for the north Londoners by making it 3-2 late on. Pulling off his man at the back post, some poor marking from the Gunners’ defence allowed Iheanacho to meet Jesus Navas’ well-placed cross and head into the corner from a couple of yards out. Petr Cech in the Arsenal goal was left with no chance.

Unfortunately for Arsenal the game ended on the sourest of notes despite retaining the lead, as in injury time Gabriel fell to the floor and writhed in agony after seemingly twisting his ankle in an unnatural fashion after competing with Iheanacho for the ball. The Brazilian defender, known for his aggresive and n0-holds-barred style of play, was visibly upset as the medical team tended to his injury.

Gabriel’s injury aside, however, manager Arsene Wenger will have been pleased to see his side come out on top in what was their toughest game of the summer so far, and the victory draws a pleasant line under their pre-season schedule which has born a draw and four successive wins. The Gunners’ season kicks off for real next Sunday at home to Liverpool whilst Manchester City entertaining Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium a day prior.

Man of the Match: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)

Callum Perritt

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