Manchester City vs. Arsenal: Sergio Aguero's Return Impactful Immediately

Phil KeidelContributor IISeptember 23, 2012

Aguero looked like his normally brilliant self against Arsenal.
Aguero looked like his normally brilliant self against Arsenal.Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Despite losing their second late lead in less than a week, Manchester City came away from its 1-1 draw with Arsenal at the Etihad with more to be happy about than to be concerned with.

City's gladdest development of the match was the form exhibited by their Player of the Year last season, Sergio Aguero.  The striker, whose goal effectively won the Premiership for City last season, had not seen action since limping off from the season opener against Southampton on August 19.

Aguero came off in the 85th minute only after squeezing off six shots, two of them on target.  He came closest to scoring on a shot that missed the goal, running a low, solid strike narrowly past the post off a rebound from a Vincent Kompany bicycle kick (!).

Sadly for City, Aguero was denied a penalty early in the second half.  Replays clearly showed contact from Laurent Koscielny, but it was Aguero's refusal to go to ground that caused referee Mike Dean to keep his whistle silent.

Perhaps Roberto Mancini will show Aguero side-by-side video of Koscielny's challenge next to Manchester United's Antonio Valencia falling as though Liverpool's Glen Johnson had hit him with a rocket-propelled grenade at Anfield earlier in the day.  Valencia's "full twist, half somersault, pike position" dive led directly to Robin van Persie's game-winner from the spot.

Apparently, this will be another season where Manchester United benefits from absurd penalty calls on the road, while City and similarly-situated perennial "challengers" will be denied clear penalties on their home grounds—even as defending champions.

Then again, Aguero notably stepped over a challenge to score that unforgettable goal against Queens Park Rangers at the season's death in May.  Perhaps coaching Aguero to dive would be unwise.

And, if Aguero continues to play as he did today, showing no ill effects from the injury that cost him a month, City is unlikely to be drawing many more at home going forward.

So, while there has been a great deal of emphasis on City's failure to defend another key set piece, which today led to Koscielny's equalizer and cost City two crucial points, seeing Aguero healthy, productive and dangerous again was exactly what City wanted to see.