Saturday, 14 December 2013

Manchester City vs Arsenal - LIVE Commentary:

Facts galore: One of the biggest games of the season kicks off today, City vs Arsenal.
Hello and welcome to my latest blog post, where I have a LIVE Commentary of the early afternoon kick-off from the Ethiad Stadium - where title chasers Manchester City host league leaders Arsenal. 

Both sides had contrasting performances during midweek, with the hosts coming back from 2-0 to beat Champions League winners Bayern Munich 3-2 on Tuesday night to confirm their place in the Last 16 of the European competition. 

Meanwhile the visitors Arsenal were lucky to qualify after a 2-0 loss in Naples, against Napoli who did not qualify on goal difference as Dortmund won late on against Marseille. 


Team Line-ups:

Manchester City: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Silva, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Nasri, Negredo, Aguero. 

Subs: Hart, Lescott, Milner, Dzeko, Kolarov, Garcia, Navas. 

A strong City side, with clinical strike partnership Negredo and Aguero starting up-front.
English goalkeeper Joe Hart moves back to the bench having played well against Bayern on Tuesday night, while Kompany starts in the centre of defence. 

FACT: Aguero and Negredo have scored a combined total of 18 goals in the EPL this season so far, one of the most prolific in the league. 

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Wilshere, Walcott, Ozil, Ramsey, Giroud.

Subs: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Rosicky, Arteta, Cazorla, Gnabry, Bendtner.  

In-form Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey returns to start for The Gunners, after being rested during midweek's 2-0 loss to Napoli away from home. 

Theo Walcott starts his first game for Arsenal in over 2 months after minor abdominal surgery, while Arteta and Cazorla drop to the bench after a few lacklustre performances of late. 

12:43 - This game will be a good test for the both sides, especially Arsenal who would do well to prove their doubters wrong to even win a point away from home against City today. They lost against a well-oiled Napoli team on Wednesday night, but to be fair they were holding out for qualification not for a win. 

City can close the gap at the top to just 3 points with a win at home today, but you would expect it to be a test for the title chasers. 

0: The referee blows his whistle to start the game at The Ethiad.

4: City have started the game brightly, pressing the visitors high up the pitch with attacking football and pressurising Mertesacker and Koscielny at the back. Two corners already for the hosts, with Nasri's delivery inviting headers but not on target. 

8: Arsenal starting to settle slightly, pushing City back into their own half and winning a corner as Negredo helps out at the back to head out the danger. 

13: GOAL!! Manchester City lead after all the pressure, with the corner being finished with no hesitation from Aguero who volleys the ball perfectly into the top corner of the net past Szczesny who could only dive and watch helplessly. 


Clinical: Aguero has now scored 12 goals in the EPL this season, after his opener.
23: 10 minutes have past since Aguero's opener, and the game has opened up with end-to-end play from both sides. Silva almost found Aguero with a precise through ball which split the Arsenal defence, while Sagna is continously springing balls into the box for Giroud and Mertesacker to head onto. Interesting.

26: Negredo tries to use quick footwork and skill to get past Monreal on the flank, before finding Yaya Toure lurking just outside the box waiting for a chance to shoot.

The ball falls to the Ivorian powerhouse, who hits the ball first time with a half-volley which flies over Szczesny and the bar for a goal-kick. 
Disappointing effort, he should be testing the goalkeeper from that distance. 

29: Walcott with an inviting ball from a free-kick from 25 yards out, with Pantilimon punching the ball out straight to Ozil, who controls the ball well but the danger is smashed clear by Yaya Toure into the centre circle.

31: GOAL!!!! Theo Walcott equalises for Arsenal with a suspected deflected strike off defender Martin Demichelis which trickled past Pantilimon who could only stand and watch the ball fall into the net as he was rooted to the spot. 


Back with a bang: Walcott celebrates his equaliser to put Arsenal back on level terms.
35: Arsenal press on the counter attack again with Wilshere and Sagna bursting forward after a great ball through by Silva finds Negredo but his curling strike narrowly moves past the post. 

39: GOAL!!! City back in-front after a lovely move is clinically finished off by Negredo who slides in at the near post to tap past Szczesny into the net. 2-1, with an assist from Zabaleta on the side. 


Sliding in: Alvaro Negredo slides in at the far post to give City the lead again.

Deadly from close range: Negredo celebrates regaining City's lead with Zabaleta, who got the assist.
Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny is on the floor in a heap looking in some serious discomfort after the goal, replays show he slide in to try and stop Negredo from scoring, got up after and fell back down because he felt something in his knee. Looks serious, and the physio and stretcher are on the pitch now.

41: Koscielny is being stretchered off the pitch, with former captain Thomas Vermaelen getting ready to replace him in the centre of defence. 

42: Arsenal SUB:
Laurent Koscielny (injury) OFF

Thomas Vermaelen ON

45: The fourth official puts his electronic board up with 4 minutes of stoppage time to be added on at the end of the first-half, after Koscielny's injury. It looks serious but nothing is broken, he could be out for a few months though. 

45+1: City keep the pressure with good link-up play between Negredo, Silva and Aguero, while a City corner is almost converted again just like the first goal but the effort is pulled wide. 

45+3: Negredo has an inviting ball into the box, the ball is too high for Szczesny who has to parry away and Toure falls over as Arsenal clear.

45+4: The referee blows the whistle to end the first-half of action at The Ethiad, where City lead Arsenal by 2 goals to 1. The Gunners have not played badly, giving their hosts something to think about defensively with the counter attacking football of Ozil, Walcott and Sagna - but City's strikeforce is too strong to defend against. 

13:50 - Second half is about to begin... the teams are back out onto the pitch to resume the game. 

48: City striker and talisman Sergio Aguero limps off the pitch uncomfortably after having pulled a muscle in his hamstring after passing the ball to Silva on the flank - the physio are assessing him and the injury looks too painful to let him continue without a risk of aggravating the injury. 


Precautionary measure: Aguero limped off just after half-time with a muscle strain.
49: City SUB:
Sergio Aguero (injury) OFF
Jesus Navas ON


50: GOAL! City have made it 3-1! Fernandinho picks up the ball from 20 yards after a sloppy passing mistake in a dangerous position, and his curling effort beats Szczesny into the bottom corner of the net.


Curling strike: Fernandinho makes it 3-1 to City, pouncing on a mistake in the 50th minute. 

Unstoppable: Fernandinho's curling finish beats Szczesny's dive into the bottom corner of the net

(MORE TO FOLLOW - SOON)