Man City draw does little to clear the waters at Arsenal
Fans protest against Wenger as Gunners fight back twice to claim a draw at the Emirates
Arsenal 2 Manchester City 2
An exciting game at the Emirates finished with a result that suited neither team. Manchester City remain fourth, 11 points behind leaders Chelsea, who host them on Wednesday in a match that if they lose will end their faint title hopes.
As for the Gunners, they've now won just one of their past six Premier League games, a dramatic downturn in form that has seen them sink to sixth in the table, two points behind fifth-placed Manchester United but more significantly seven behind City. The Gunners have a game in hand on the Sky Blues but given their form this year it will take something special if they're to continue their record of qualifying for the Champions League for the 20th consecutive season.
The day began with more protests from Arsenal fans with an estimated 1,000 supporters marching to the stadium where they then handed out leaflets on which was printed a seven-point plan explaining why they wanted Arsene Wenger to leave.
According to former Arsenal striker Ian Wright, now a BBC pundit, the club's board accept "the fans will be the ones who ultimately decide Arsene Wenger's fate."
That is likely to encourage the disenchanted Arsenal supporters to step up their campaign, starting with the visit of West Ham on Wednesday. In the meantime Wenger is trying to focus on purely on-field matters but there were the inevitable questions in the post-match press conference about his future. "I love this club," he said. "I don't know how long I will be here, I am clear in my head, that's the most important thing. The decision will be soon."
The match couldn't have started more badly for the Frenchman as his side conceded a goal after five minutes when Kevin de Bruyne sliced open the Arsenal defence with an intelligent pass and Leroy Sane held off Hector Bellerin to round David Ospina and slide the ball into an empty net.
That was the cue for some jeering from the home fans, who feared the worst in an opening period dominated by the visitors. But the Gunners held on and then slowly began working their way back into the game, helped by some City defending that was so sloppy it reminded one of their hosts. In fact it was a former Gunner, Gael Clichy, who was at fault for the equaliser, playing former teammate Theo Walcott onside with some dozy defending and the winger did the rest.
Two minutes later it was Arsenal's turn to gift a goal, failing to clear their lines and allowing Sergio Aguero the time and space to put City back in front.
But in a match that showcased the two sides defensive ineptitude - and the reason why neither are serious title challengers - City then went to sleep at a Mesut Ozil corner and Shkodran Mustafi jumped unchallenged to direct his header into the left-hand corner of Willy Caballero's goal.
With defending like that, neither side deserved to take the three points, and Wenger was left looking for positives at the end of exciting if error-strewn match. "Mathematically a draw is not the best solution for both teams but it is a point which will help us," he said. "You could see that the players were down after it went to 2-1 but they gave everything to come back. The draw is the least we needed today. Psychologically it was important not to lose."
It was important to win, however, to ease the pressure mounting on his shoulders, but the same could be said for Pep Guardiola who knows his position may come under scrutiny should City fail to finish in the top four. "We didn't play in the first half, after the goal we forgot to play, the desire went," said the Spaniard. "But it's OK, time to improve."
Not much time. Wednesday's game against Chelsea will make or break City's season but Guardiola was trying to take it all in his stride. "We play against a team who is stable in what they do. We don't have too much time to prepare but we go back to Manchester now and recover and then come back to London."