regular-article-logo Tuesday, 06 June 2023

Twist in title race, Arsenal take pole after Manchester City fumble

In the second half, we outplayed them, we created chance after chance, we dominated absolutely the game, says Mikel Arteta

Reuters Nottingham Published 19.02.23, 05:20 AM
Mikel Arteta.

Mikel Arteta. File picture

Manchester City fell two points behind Premier League leaders Arsenal after being held to a 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

Arsenal left it very late to beat Aston Villa 4-2 earlier on Saturday and climbed back to the top of the standings, putting pressure on City to earn victory at Forest, with the visitors starting the encounter at a blistering pace.


City dominated possession and deservedly took the lead four minutes before the break with Bernardo Silva slamming the ball into the net from the edge of the box.

The visitors should have doubled their advantage midway through the second half but the usually lethal Erling Haaland hit the crossbar from close range before blazing the rebound over the top.

That miss proved pivotal as, out of nowhere, Forest’s January signing Chris Wood tapped home at the far post to level six minutes from time and lift the roof off a damp City Ground.

The champions threw everything at Forest in search of a dramatic late winner but they could not break the hosts’ resistance, leaving City two points behind Arsenal having played one game more.

Arsenal scored twice in stoppage time to win a six-goal thriller at Villa.

Jorginho’s shot deflected in off Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez to put Arsenal 3-2 up before substitute Gabriel Martinelli raced clear to score as Villa chased an equaliser.

Villa twice led, through Ollie Watkins and Philippe Coutinho, in the first half.

They were pegged back by goals from Bukayo Saka and Oleksandr Zinchenko either side of the break.

Victory ended Arsenal’s run of three games without a win.

Manager Mikel Arteta said he demanded higher standards from his team during a half-time chat.

“In the second half, we outplayed them, we created chance after chance, we dominated absolutely the game. We needed a magic moment and Jorginho produced it,” he said.

Villa striker Watkins was left scratching his head.

“It’s one of those games where you have to look back and go over it but in the moment you don’t really know what happened.

“A good team like Arsenal punished us at the end of the day. I don’t know really what went wrong,” he said.

The game, watched by Hollywood star Tom Hanks, was a disappointment for Villa manager Unai Emery who had appeared to get his tactics right in the first half and would dearly have loved to secure victory over the team he once managed.

“I am frustrated, it’s not good,” he said, chiding keeper Martinez for throwing caution to the wind and going forward at the end.

Chelsea falter again

A trademark James WardProwse free-kick earned basement club Southampton a precious three points at Chelsea in a scrappy 1-0 win and piled more pressure on home coach Graham Potter.

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta brought down Stuart Armstrong just outside the area in the 45th minute and Ward-Prowse curled a free-kick over the wall into the right-hand side of the net with goalkeeper Kepa left sprawling.

Azpilicueta needed nearly 10 minutes of treatment on the pitch in the second half after he received a kick to the head in a goalmouth clash. Physios from both clubs rushed to his aid and the Spaniard was eventually carried off on a stretcher.

Ward-Prowse said scoring and winning was an “amazing feeling”. “The game was obviously overshadowed a bit by the injury to Cesar and we wish our best to him. We hope he is okay.”

Chelsea, who have scored only four goals in 10 games in all competitions since January 1, looked livelier in the second half when Raheem Sterling and Kai Havertz came on and they kept the Southampton defence under pressure.

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