Arsenal 2 – 1 Manchester City
(Walcott 33, Giroud 45) (Toure 82)
If anyone had suggested in 2004 that Arsenal would have to wait another 12 years to win the title, you might have been forgiven for thinking they were mad but, 2016 beckons and the Gunners are in with a chance after a 2-1 win over Manchester City put them four points clear in second place, now two behind Leicester.
Two goals in the first half from Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud was just enough to secure victory, despite a Yaya Toure consolation and more than a few scary moments in the second half.
In this social media mad world dominated by stats, City had all the positives apart from the most important one, balls in the back of the net.
The key, once again, to Arsenal’s success, Mesut Ozil. The German supplies the ammunition and the strike force hit the target.
Walcott still had a lot to do when Ozil played him in at the left edge of the box, but the finish was top drawer, as he curled it well out of the reach of his England teammate Joe Hart to set the Gunners on their way just after the half hour mark.
Right on the stroke of half-time Ozil was at it again, this time setting up Giroud to slip the ball through Hart’s legs from six yards to send the Emirates faithful wild with delight.
City dominated possession and came back out for the second half ready for the fight. It’s hard to believe they had 20 attempts, but only Toure’s fine angled finish into the roof of the net to show for all their effort.
In the eight minutes that remained after that goal, the Arsenal fans were biting their nails, while their manager Arsene Wenger patrolled the touchline shouting instructions to try and rid himself of his own nervous energy.
Man of the match, Mesut Ozil didn’t do too well keeping a lid on the heightened expectations of Arsenal winning the title.
He told Sky Sports ‘We believe in us. If you see the games against the big clubs, we won against them, so we know our quality. If we play our game, we can win the league. We will give our best for the season to try and win the title.’
Arsenal will never have a better chance of winning this championship and, to be honest, it is not down to their supremacy, it is more to do with the inconsistency that is rife throughout the other contenders.
The bookmakers now have Arsene Wenger’s men as clear favourites to win the Barclays Premier League but, the manager remains cautious, even after a big win over City. He told Sky Sports, ‘It makes us realise that coming out of this game tonight, there is a very long, long way to go.’
‘Every game is a battle and as soon as you release a little bit of effort, you have no chance in this league.’
If the board have any ambition to end the long wait for the big trophy, they should give the manager what he wants in the January transfer window to overcome their main title contenders in the run-in.
On the evidence of the win over City, Arsenal seem to have the belief that they can finally go all the way. Even the bookies are backing them, they’re never wrong, are they?