Arsenal collapse 2-0 to Man City after Koscielny red card
Gunners now sixth and facing a real battle to qualify for Champions League next season
Arsenal 0 Manchester City 2. "Cheap" and "timid" was how Arsene Wenger summed up Arsenal's effort on Sunday after they suffered their first league defeat at home to Manchester City in 37 years.
In October 1975, the Sky Blues won 3-2, but there was nothing like that sort of close contest yesterday as City cruised to a comfortable 2-0 victory thanks to goals from James Milner and Edin Dzeko.
The match was effectively over as a contest after 10 minutes when Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny pulled off a tackle on Dzeko in the penalty area that would have won him a standing ovation at Twickenham.
But referee Mike Dean didn't think much of Koscielny's rugby tackle and sent off the Frenchman. Dzeko missed the penalty but City soon made amends, Milner thumping in a shot from a tight angle as the Arsenal defence went to sleep at a free-kick.
Dzeko doubled City's lead just after the half-hour mark when he fired in the rebound after Wojciech Szczesny had parried Carlos Tevez's initial shot, and only a goalline clearance from Jack Wilshere prevented Javi Garcia making it 3-0 before the break.
Arsenal were clearly stunned by events of the first period, and though they appeared more organised in the second half the Gunners never looked like getting back into the game.
Even the harsh dismissal of City captain Vincent Company on 74 minutes for a tackle on Jack Wilshere failed to change the course of the match as City moved to within seven points of leaders Manchester United, who earlier in the day had defeated Liverpool 2-1 at Old Trafford.
Arsenal are now sixth, six points behind Tottenham in fourth and facing a real fight to qualify for next season's Champions League. "We started too timidly, with not enough authority in a game like that, and we allowed them to dictate from the start," admitted Wenger, who for once didn't blame defeat on the officials.
Asked whether he thought Koscielny should have seen red, he replied: "I don't know... I haven't seen it again. I was surprised by the decision but I have heard that it was a penalty. We have to live with the decision and it does not mean that we had to lose the game. I felt we gave two cheap goals away."
A dispirited Wenger must now rally his players ahead of a crucial six days for the club. On Wednesday they face Swansea in their FA Cup third round replay, and on Sunday they travel to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea in the league.
"We have to fight to do as well as possible until the end of the season," said Wenger, who added that the club "is in the market" to bring new players to Arsenal in the transfer window.
As for City, Roberto Mancini believes his side can overhaul United between now and May despite the fact their rivals haven't lost in the league for two months.
"In this moment, they play very well but the season is long," said the Sky Blues boss. "It's important for us to be there, close with them, and we will arrive the moment they lose points... I don't think that we deserve to stay seven points behind United, but we are there. We need to play well, that is all we can do." ·