LONDON – Arsenal dealt Manchester City’s Premier League title hopes a big blow after a deserved 2-0 victory at the Etihad Stadium.
Goals in either half from Santi Cazorla, who converted from the spot after Vincent Kompany’s foul on Nacho Monreal, and Olivier Giroud, who headed home 20 minutes after the break, inflicted City’s third defeat of the season.
Cazorla made no mistake from the spot in the 24th minute; forcefully placing the ball high to Joe Hart’s left after Kompany collided with Monreal as he tried to latch onto Giroud’s one-two.
City, who went into the match on a 12-game unbeaten run in the league, pushed for an equaliser in the first half, but fell short as the Gunners produced a disciplined and resilient defensive display which the champions struggled to deal with.
A frantic start to the second period saw City create a number of chances, but it was the visitors who struck to secure the points.
Man of the match Cazorla delivered a free kick into the box for Giroud, who, after capitalising on Fernando’s lapse in concentration, nodded past Hart from six yards.
The result sees the Gunners move up to fifth in the table, a point adrift of fourth-placed Manchester United, while City remain second, five points off leaders Chelsea.
The focus before the game was on the return of Sergio Aguero and Kompany, who both came back from lengthy injury-induced spells on the touchline.
But it was the man who has orchestrated City’s recent rise toward the top of the table, David Silva, who made an impact early on, dancing his way through the Arsenal defence in the opening exchanges.
After weathering an early onslaught, the Gunners sat deep and afforded their opponents little space to develop attacks. Instead, City enjoyed a large amount of possession high inside their half which allowed Arsenal to counter.
Alexis Sanchez raced towards the City goal in one attack moments before Giroud spurned a great chance to open the scoring on 18 minutes.
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