|Riyad Mahrez converts from the spot to draw City level at the Emirates on Saturday. It ended 1-2 at the Emirates. (Photo credit: Sky Sports)|
It wasn’t the perfect start to the year for Arsenal, despite the fact that yours truly predicted a City win based on form, history and quality of players, it was a whole different affair at the Emirates on the very first day of the new year.
Manchester City beat Arsenal 2-1 but a lot could have been different had Start Artwell been honest with his job and Granit Xhaka didn’t make it easy for him; we’ve ranted about the quality of premier league refereeing severally, this one time something has to be done.
Takehiro Tomiyasu returned to the Arsenal line up in the only change on the pitch while someone else had to take the dugout role with Mikel Arteta down to covid, City rang a host of changes with Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez and Rodri coming in.
Arsenal went on the offensive from the blast of the whistle and no one could believe their eyes, the typical languid display against top opposition wasn’t there, the midfield was all Arsenal and even the ever reliable Kevin De Bruyne had to give the ball away for Arsenal’s opener.
Bukayo Saka swept home a fine finish from the area from a simple diagonal Kieran Tierney pass, City had no answers and could even have been two before the break when Martinelli danced through but saw his effort just wide of the post.
Martin Odegaard was hacked down in the City area earlier by Ederson, it was clear and obvious but Atwell decided against seeing it on the monitor, he was quick to book Arsenal players while Rodri and co were getting away with every rash tackle on the Arsenal kids.
The second half was all Arsenal early on until Xhaka had a tug on Bernardo Silva’s shirt, each time you see it, you’d be convinced that the Portuguese was on his way down, but the VAR asked the man in the middle to look at it on the monitor, this time he found energy to do so.
Mahrez converted from the spot and it was game on, Nathan Ake cleared on the line and Martinelli side-footed wide from the rebound, the next that happened was a red card being flashed at Gabriel for a collision with Gabriel Jesus.
It was a second yellow, the first was a debatable one for dissent, needless to say Saka was booked also for wondering why Rodri didn’t get booked for nearly sending Partey to the hospital; it went south from there and the Cityzens who couldn’t dominate before the red suddenly found their rhythm…
Arsenal lost this one, not because they weren’t good enough, but because the referee and the VAR took the result away from them.
Spurs won late at Watford, series of debatable calls in that game as well and they have closed the gap on the Gunners to two points with two games in hand, the top four race would be fun but it could also be decided by the referees.