Arsenal vs. Manchester City: Reaction from Arsene Wenger and Manuel Pellegrini

Stuart NewmanFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2014

Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger watches his team play from the technical area during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at White Hart Lane stadium in London, Sunday, March 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Associated Press

After seeing Chelsea slip up at Crystal Palace earlier on Saturday, Manuel Pellgrini’s Manchester City missed a great chance to take charge of the title race away at Arsenal.

David Silva gave City a deserved lead just 18 minutes in at the Emirates in their quest to return to the summit of the Premier League, but Mathieu Flamini denied them that privilege with an equaliser early in the second half.

David Silva celebrates giving Manchester City the lead at the Emirates with Edin Dzeko
David Silva celebrates giving Manchester City the lead at the Emirates with Edin DzekoKirsty Wigglesworth

The Citizens were quick out of the traps against a lacklustre Arsenal side, and when Silva turned in Edin Dzeko’s original effort that rebounded off the post, it looked for all the world like it would be a long day for Arsene Wenger’s side.

As OptaJoe revealed via Twitter, City’s recent record when the Spaniard has got himself on the score sheet has been flawless:

Credit to the Gunners, though, as they came out fighting in the second period and had chances to win the game following Flamini’s tap-in from Lukas Podolski’s pass on 53 minutes.

The draw keeps Arsenal clinging to the Premier League title race by their fingertips, while it means City can go four points above Chelsea at the top of the table if they win their remaining games in hand.

Following a spirited second-half performance, under-pressure Arsenal manager Wenger showed his appreciation for his side’s resilience during an interview with BBC Sport, saying:

In the second half we controlled the game but we could not score a second goal. It was a good game with two quality teams and very tight. I was confident we could win it but, after what we have gone through, it was important not to make a defensive mistake. What happened to us last week was a nightmare and on top of that we scored an own goal versus Swansea so the dressing room was really, really flat on Tuesday night. I would like to pay credit to the team because of the way the team responded today showed a really special mental quality. They are a fantastic team to work with.

Arsenal have a, let’s say, generous set of fixtures to come as the Premier League approaches its climax, but gaining a draw on Saturday was imperative in keeping the Gunners in touch with the top three.

In the end, though, a draw was a fair result against the title favourites, which Arsenal fan Piers Morgan wholeheartedly agreed with on Twitter:

Meanwhile, City boss Pellegrini appeared satisfied with a point against an Arsenal side that haven’t lost at home since the opening game of the season and told BBC Sport:

I don't know if the word is disappointed. This week we have played away at Manchester United and Arsenal and we have four points from six. In the first half we played very good but only scored one goal. In the second half, when they scored, they grew because they were at their home ground but, before they scored, we had a clear chance to make it 2-0. All of us want to win all our games but Arsenal are a very good team here and they are also fighting for the title.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 29:  Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal celebrates scoring their first goal with Santi Cazorla of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on March 29, 2014 in London, England
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

City return to their Etihad fortress next weekend for the visit of Southampton, and having won 13 of their 14 home games this season, they’re hot favourites to romp to victory once again.

The small matter remains of City travelling to Anfield on April 13, where if they produce a similarly sloppy second-half performance, a ruthless Liverpool side looking to fulfil title dreams of their own will undoubtedly punish them.