September 24, 2012
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Koscielny denies champions City victory

Laurent Koscielny's equaliser ensured Arsenal left Eastlands with a deserved point as the Gunners held Premier League champions Manchester City to a 1-1 draw today.

Koscielny's goal eight minutes from time ensured Arsenal maintained their unbeaten start to the season and cancelled out the opener from City centre-half Joleon Lescott.

The draw left both clubs on nine points, four adrift of leaders Chelsea.

Koscielny struck eight minutes from time, controlling the ball and converting from a dozen yards after Lescott had made a poor clearance from Theo Walcott's dangerous left-wing corner.

Lescott himself had struck with an impressive and powerful set-piece header on the half hour, arriving in between Koscielny and Lukas Podolski to power home David Silva's right-wing corner, a goal that came against the run of play in terms of chances created.

Prior to the opening goal, the two best openings of the half had both fallen to the visitors; the first after 15 minutes when Gervinho was played clean through on goal by Aaron Ramsey but produced a dismal first touch that saw the ball run away from him to goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Nine minutes later, Carl Jenkinson's tidy approach play down the right-hand by-line allowed him to pull the ball back for Podolski who planted a shot high and wide over the City goal.

Those chances had been preceded by City's Sergio Aguero forcing Vito Mannone into the first real save of the game, the Arsenal goalkeeper parrying a shot from the Argentinian.

But, until Lescott's impressive finish, Arsenal had looked the more likely scorers.

Hart scurried to his right to keep out Cazorla's well-struck 20-yard free-kick, Gervinho shot into the side netting after another Ramsey-inspired counter-attack and Cazorla ended the half by stabbing a shot just wide.

The decision of the City manager Roberto Mancini to switch his wingers Scott Sinclair and Silva proved shrewd, however, and moments after the opening goal, Edin Dzeko's 20-yard first-time shot sailed just over the bar after Aguero launched an attack.

Sinclair was brought off at the interval as Mancini continued to tinker with his formation and City started the second half exerting more control in midfield and taking greater hold of the game.

Yaya Toure's run ended with a 20-yard effort wide, Aguero shot over from a difficult, narrow angle before the same City man chased a Silva through ball and had a strong claim for a penalty following a tackle from Koscielny.

Arsenal survived the spell of pressure but were struggling to carve out openings of their own.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger threw on Olivier Giroud and Walcott for the game's final 19 minutes, the duo injecting more attacking urgency into their team's play without Hart being unduly troubled at first.

Instead, Yaya Toure launched a dangerous 80th minute counter-attack, slipping in Aguero whose shot, under pressure from Koscielny, was turned around the post by Mannone.

It was a half chance, and miss, that proved costly with Arsenal immediately responding through midfielder Cazorla's powerful right-foot strike which Hart did well to tip over, resulting in the corner from which Koscielny equalised.

Two minutes later, City might have regained the lead after Aguero drove a rebound just wide after Mannone had done well to keep out Vincent Kompany's acrobatic overhead kick.

At the other end, Gervinho missed a superb opportunity with an injury-time shot that sailed over the bar from 16 yards.

AFP

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