(Reuters) – Arsenal twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with Manchester City in a tense Premier League encounter yesterday and stay seven points behind the fourth-placed visitors.
Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero twice fired City into the lead in the first half, but Arsenal equalised through Theo Walcott before Shkodran Mustafi’s header after the break ensured the points were shared.
Against a background of fan discontent over the form of Arsene Wenger’s side as he decides his future, Arsenal were nervy from the start.
They fell behind in the fifth minute when Sane rounded keeper David Ospina and finished elegantly after Arsenal’s defence was dissected by a sublime through-ball from the excellent Kevin De Bruyne for his 13th assist of the season.
City lost impetus after the goal and Walcott levelled from close range in the 40th minute after being played onside by Arsenal old boy Gael Clichy, who tried desperately to make amends after his former team mate was played in by Mustafi.
“We didn’t play in the first half, after the goal we forgot to play,” Pep Guardiola told Sky Sports. “The desire went.
“In the second half we played more. We suffered a lot in the first half because we didn’t make those passes together.”
While the defensive frailties of both sides were regularly exposed, they also demonstrated their attacking brilliance in spells.
Pep Guardiola’s first season in England has not been an unqualified success, but he has succeeded in giving City one of the Premier League’s sleekest attacks, and Arsenal’s equaliser spurred the visitors back to life. Aguero restored City’s lead two minutes later after being picked out by David Silva before finishing with aplomb. Arsenal defender Mustafi again restored parity eight minutes after the break when he rose above Nicolas Otamendi to head Mesut Ozil’s corner past keeper Willy Caballero with City’s defence static.
“The test was mental,” Wenger told Sky Sports. “We had to come back after half time and we got a point after a time that has been so stressful for us.”
The draw takes City, who visit Chelsea on Wednesday, on to 58 points, five clear of fifth-placed Manchester United, who have a game in hand, and a point behind Liverpool, who have played a game more than Pep Guardiola’s side.
Arsenal, in sixth, now have 51 points and are in danger of missing out on a top-four finish for the first time since 1996. They will bid to end a three-game winless streak in the Premier League when they host West Ham United on Wednesday.