Manchester City vs. Arsenal: Player Ratings for Both Teams at the Etihad
City had taken the lead through Jolean Lescott's headed goal at the end of a first half that the Gunners had largely dominated.
Then, in a turn of events that mirrored the first half exactly, Arsenal played second fiddle to the champions and had to rely on their centre-half to score against the run of play to earn a deserved draw.
The result extends City's unbeaten run at the Etihad Stadium to 32 games, but it could have been so different had Arsenal taken advantage of their superior play during the first 45 minutes.
Once again, Santi Cazorla was Arsene Wenger's chief architect and put in an assured performance that will surely have caught the eye of Vicente del Bosque as he prepares to select his Spanish squad ahead of the World Cup qualifiers in October.
Roberto Mancini's team selection was full of surprises with Sergio Aguero returning to the fray much earlier than expected, while Carlos Tevez, City's best player this term, found himself dumped to the bench.
It would appear as if the Italian is struggling to deal with the pressure of expectation that comes with being champions. His strange selection against Arsenal makes this the third time he has made hugely significant changes to his starting XI in just seven games so far this season.
In the end, a draw was a fair result.
Arsenal were the better side in the first half and conceded against the run of play, while City were the better in the second half and also conceded against the run of play.
Here, we look at the player ratings for both teams in a game where that single point could yet prove crucial as far as the title is concerned.
Read on and leave your comments below.
Manchester City: Joe Hart: 7
Joe Hart is easily the best goalkeeper in the Premier League, but even he struggled to get to Laurent Koscielny's late effort.
Apart from that, he had a relatively quiet game except for one or two occasions when he went into battle with Santi Cazorla.
The main attribute you look for in a top-class goalkeeper is concentration, and with the game dead and Hart all but a spectator, he launched himself into action to keep out the Spaniard's superb strike.
Lesser 'keepers would have baulked at the challenge and their team would have lost.
City and Roberto Mancini have a lot to thank Hart for, and the Italian manager had better remember that the next time he decides to pull rank on his 'keeper.
Manchester City: Pablo Zabaleta: 7
The Argentinian defender is a cult hero at the Etihad, and you can easily see why.
He may not be the most gifted of players, or even defenders, that Roberto Mancini has at his disposal, but he is the most committed.
Zabaleta never shirks a challenge, and while he may give away undisciplined free-kicks from time to time, he is, so far this season, City's most effective defender.
Today against Arsenal was no different.
Manchester City: Gael Clichy: 6
The ex-Arsenal defender has endured a mixed season so far.
Today against Arsenal, his performance was an almost perfect example of everything he does well, and does wrong.
Clichy always supports his attack and has made a knack of overlapping and doubling up on defenders when they least expect it.
At times, the intelligence of his marauding runs had Carl Jenkinson worrying about who to pick up, and the lack of intelligence he showed in his defensive positioning allowed both Gervinho and Theo Walcott acres of space when they should have been marked tightly.
He will have to improve upon his current form if he is to be a major factor in City holding onto their title.
Manchester City: Jolean Lescott: 6
Despite scoring, Jolean Lescott was serviceable more than anything else.
He seemed to stroll through the game never doing more than enough until his goal, and then when City got on top, he didn't seem to have the confidence of last season to force the game home.
One wonders if Lescott's confidence is being affected by Roberto Mancini's tinkering and constant benching of the player. Last season, he was ever present and even carried the team when Vincent Kompany missed matches through injury and suspension.
This year, it looks as if Mancini is now looking past Lescott for other options while the England centre half remains his second-best defender after Kompany.
Manchester City: Vincent Kompany: 6
Vincent Kompany's form so far this season has been patchy at best.
He cost City the game against Real Madrid this week and was under huge pressure coming into the Arsenal game.
Thankfully, Kompany showed his in-game-intelligence and exactly why he is City's captain by concentrating on his defensive duties more than any other part of his game.
When under pressure, the signs one looks for in a good player is him concentrating on the basics. Today Kompany did not try to be fancy, and while his passing game suffered slightly, his defensive game was put back on track by a solid display.
He also could have scored late on through a dramatic bicycle kick, but that would have detracted from and perhaps derailed his mission to get back on form.
Manchester City: Yaya Toure: 6
Knowing that Yaya Toure is the key to Manchester City's attack, especially with Carlos Tevez amazingly on the bench, Arsene Wenger set his tactics out to nullify the giant Ivorian.
The Gunners took Toure out of the game in the nicest way possible: by keeping the ball away from as they overloaded midfield.
The end result was a muted performance, which was understandable when you consider the opposition both today, Arsenal, and on Wednesday last, Real Madrid.
Manchester City: Scott Sinclair: 4
One of the biggest transfer surprises of the summer transfer window was Manchester City's acquisition of Swansea's forward, Scott Sinclair.
Sinclair had just enjoyed a fruitful season with Brendan Rodgers and the free-flowing Swans, and when Roberto Mancini came knocking, everyone wondered why and where would the youngster fit in.
Adam Johnson, a far superior player, was shipped out to Sunderland, and Sinclair came in to add width to a team that don't really play with any.
He has almost been parachuted straight into City's team right from his transfer, but he has struggled severely, and today was no different, as he was hooked after just 45 minutes.
The learning curve in front of Sinclair is massive, and he will have to learn quickly if he is to become a force in this team.
Manchester City: David Silva: 6
Perhaps it was being in direct combat with the man who many feel will oust him from the Spanish set-up, Santi Cazorla, but David Silva put in his best performance so far this season today against Arsenal.
At times, the diminutive midfielder was back to his amazing best and tantalised the Arsenal defence with mesmeric twists and turns and deft touches.
However, his defensive play was, once again, below par, and he, with the rest of his City teammates, will have to improve as the season goes on.
Manchester City: Javi Garcia: 5
After a debut to remember against Stoke City last weekend, Javi Garcia was brought back down to earth with a bump by an Arsenal midfield that left him as a peripheral figure today.
All too often, Garcia was bypassed by a slick-moving Arsenal midfield that were under orders not to get too close to City's most influential players, Garcia and Toure.
The good news is that neither he nor City will face weeks where they play the likes of Real Madrid and Arsenal again, and as the season rolls on, he is destined to become an important player, but only against certain teams.
His sole contribution today was a yellow card for a late professional foul. Better weeks lie ahead.
Manchester City: Edin Dzeko: 6
Edin Dzeko works hard, has a good touch and links up well with his midfielders, but when all is said and done, there is something missing from the Bosnian striker's game.
He lacks game intelligence and pace, and at the highest level, this can be exposed to leave him as an onlooker as his game is bypassed.
He was, surprisingly and unusually, selected ahead of Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli and is the kind of player that needs the rest of his team to be humming to reach the heights he is capable of.
As many City players went through the motions today, so too did Dzeko.
Manchester City: Sergio Aguero: 6
Having being out injured for the last month Aguero was expected to make an appearance at some stage today, but no one expected him to start—least of all himself.
The brilliant Argentinian was off the pace of the game from the start and struggled to make an impact against a well-drilled Arsenal defence.
The fact that he was substituted will surprise no one, but the fact that he lasted 85 minutes will, especially when you consider that a fully-fit Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli were on the bench.
Safe to say that today was not one of Roberto Mancini's best managerial days.
Manchester City: Substitutes:
Jack Rodwell: 6
The ex-Everton man came on at halftime for a very poor Scott Sinclair, as Mancini re-shuffled midfield. The end result was both Toure and Garcia pushed further forward into a formation similar to a 4-1-2-1-2. Rodwell did OK without being spectacular and seems primed to take over from Gareth Barry as City's main defensive midfielder.
Carlos Tevez: 5
Tevez came on for the last 20 minutes as a lacklustre Edin Dzeko made way, but by then, City's game-plan was set in its grooves and the Argentinian struggled to get into the match.
Mario Balotelli: No Rating
Balotelli has seemingly been told he is now on more than a squad player at City. If that is the case, expect to see more five and 10-minute cameos from the erratic Italian as the season moves forward.
Manchester City: Roberto Mancini: 6
Mancini and Manchester City had more questions asked of them this week than in almost all of last season.
Unlike last term, where he passed every exam with flying colours, he is, so far this season, looking at an F at best.
When you consider the resources and players he has at his disposal, he should be tactically much better.
Today was a minor example of how he can be good and bad at the same time.
The team he sent out in the first half was inferior in every way, so he was forced into a halftime change which reversed the game completely, only for his team to draw thanks to a poorly-defended goal from a set-piece.
As teachers would say, plenty of room for improvement.
Arsenal: Vito Mannone: 6
Vito Mannone is not the goalkeeping answer at Arsenal.
He made a couple of expected saves today, but went completely missing under David Silva's corner as Manchester City took the lead through Jolean Lescott.
This pattern is far too common in all of the Gunners goalkeepers, and one wonders why Arsene Wenger has never really replaced David Seaman, who left in 2003.
Arsenal: Carl Jenkinson: 6
Bakari Sagna's understudy had another good game. Jenkinson has been one of the main reasons Arsenal's defence have been so hard to penetrate this year because he provides balance both in defence and in attack.
Today, City played without wide men as their fullbacks pushed on, but he had to be wary of Silva's probing passes into the space behind him.
He did everything he had to do and was defensively sound first above anything, which is a very good sign for his future.
Arsenal: Kieran Gibbs: 6
At this very moment in time, Kieran Gibbs is the only irreplaceable player on the Arsenal team. He provides excellent width and will surely succeed Ashley Cole as England's first choice left-back before Brazil 2014.
He put in another assured performance today and attacked and defended intelligently. He has a great future ahead.
Arsenal: Per Mertesacker: 7
With the ever-present Thomas Vermaelan out through injury, Arsenal's defensive organisation fell to Per Mertesacker.
At the start of the season, the German defender was deemed the third wheel in the Koscielny-Vermaelan defensive partnership, but as the campaign has unfolded, he has become Arsenal's best, and arguably most important, defender.
Mancini may have played into the German defenders strengths by playing an unfit Aguero and a static Dzeko. He coped easily with them and initiated many of Arsenal's breaks through good positioning and play, and it will be hard to remove him from the team on current form.
Arsenal: Laurent Koscielny: 8
The French defender started his first game of the season in place of the absent Thomas Vermaelan and walked away with the Man of the Match award.
Koscielny put in an assured defensive performance and scored the well deserved equaliser.
He provided the two highlights of the game, his goal the obvious first, and the second when he back-flicked the ball away from the marauding Yaya Toure.
All in all, Arsene Wenger will be very happy with his fellow countryman's return, and it gives him a selection headache going into next week's game with Chelsea.
Arsenal: Abou Diaby: 5
It says much about Abou Diaby's performance that when I went looking for a photograph of the player from today's match, all I could find were pictures of him in the background as City players raced past him.
He was off the pace today and never got to grips with either Arsenal's or City's midfield.
The lacklustre Diaby was eventually replaced by the lacklustre Olivier Giroud.
Arsenal: Mikel Arteta: 7
Arteta showed the full gamut of skills he is capable of as Arsenal came from behind to draw at City.
In the first half, as captain, he pulled all the strings as the Gunners midfield dominated the game through possession.
In the second half after City had re-shuffled, he was forced into a more defensive role as he took up positions to deter and stop Yaya Toure from making those lung-bursting runs he is so famous for.
A good day all around for the Spanish star.
Arsenal: Aaron Ramsey: 7
Aaron Ramsey put in, what for many, was his best performance in a long time in an Arsenal shirt against City.
He was largely deployed on the right of Arsene Wenger's midfield, but he literally showed up everywhere. What stood out most was his complete lack of fear on and off the ball, and he was often to be seen challenging the likes of Toure, Silva, Garcia or Kompany, regardless of reputation.
This is hugely encouraging for Wenger and the Gunners, as Ramsey has almost unlimited potential.
Arsenal: Santi Cazorla: 8
Santi Cazorla is obviously enjoying life at the Gunners, and the team is perfectly set up for his superb technical playing style.
He has been the most outstanding player of the Premier League season so far, and today was no different. The only thing separating him from the Man of the Match award was Joe Hart, who pulled off two great saves from the Spaniard.
Arsenal: Lukas Podolski: 5
Lukas Podolski had hit the ground running at Arsenal this season with three goals in five games, and having been named vice-captain in Vermaelan's absence, he went out and put in his worst performance so far.
He never got into the game and made runs in behind defenders where no pass could possibly find him. He was also caught ball-watching when he allowed Jolean Lescott to rise unchallenged for the opening goal.
So it came as no surprise to see him come off for Theo Walcott with 20 minutes to go.
Arsenal: Gervinho: 4
Gervinho is the Marshall Bravestar of the English Premier League.
He has the eyes of a hawk, the ears of a wolf, the speed of the puma and the first touch of a baby elephant.
Time and time again, he would break the City rearguard, either through his incredible pace and through some astonishing dribbling skills, and then basically pass it to Joe Hart and bunt the ball into the stand.
He must be an infuriating player to play with never mind watch, and at times, you could see his own teammates shake their heads in anger and frustration at his actions.
Saying that, he occupied City throughout, and you just know that someday, he will score a bag full of goals against someone.
Francis Coquelin: No Rating
He deserves at least a seven for replacing Gervinho, but alas, he did it in injury time.
Olivier Giroud: 5
Giroud came on for the lacklustre Abou Diaby and replayed that faith by Arsene Wenger in kind. He was anonymous while on the pitch, and his constant flicking of the ball to no one in particular almost caused Arsene Wenger to have an embolism.
Theo Walcott: 4
Walcott replaced Podolski and was terrible while on the pitch. Time and time again, he was released into space, only for his first touch to give the ball away or for his crosses to go into orbit.
On this performance, the Gunners should cut their ties with the player who is demanding a new contract worth £100,000 per week.
Arsenal: Arsene Wenger: 7
Wenger is obviously the happier of the two managers, but he knows his team has huge room for improvement and must show more consistency going forward.
His team dominated the first half, but were over-run for long periods in the second before capitalising on a late set-piece mistake by the City defence.
The most worrying thing going forward for Wenger and the many Gunners' fans is the lack of depth on the bench, and should a key player like Arteta or Gibbs get injured, they will suffer badly.
Saying that, Arsenal are well worth their nine points after five games, and on this form, they will be there or thereabouts come a top-four challenge in May.