CITY 1 ARSENAL 0
FA Barclays Premiership
26th August 2006
Scorer Barton(41 pen)
ref Uriah Rennie
City Weaver, Richards, Dunne, Distin, Jordan, Sinclair, Barton, Dabo, Vassell, Dickov, Corradi – Subs D Mills(80), Samaras(86), Miller(90), Hart(unused), Ireland(unused)
Arsenal Lehmann, Eboue, Toure, Djourou, Hoyte, Hleb, Fabregas, Gilberto, Rosicky, Van Persie, Henry – Adebayor(76), walcott(66), Flamini(83), Almunia(unused), Cygan(unused)
WHAT THE PRESS SAID
ARSENAL slumped to their first away defeat at Manchester City for 15 years to continue their poor start to the season.
A fiercely committed display by Stuart Pearce’s men ensured a 1-0 win for the home side at the City of Manchester Stadium. Desperate away form wrecked any hopes of a title challenge for the Gunners last time around as they were beaten 11 times on the road in domestic competition. And it was more of the same at Eastlands last night. A few minutes before half- time, City put their bad week behind them when Joey Barton scored from the penalty spot after Justin Hoyte brought down Trevor Sinclair in the box,
With Ben Thatcher suspended following his horrific challenge on Portsmouth midfielder Pedro Mendes, Bartons goal came as a much-needed tonic.
Thatcher was absent from last nights contest. replaced by Stephen Jordan, in a game the Blues needed to get something out of to restore fading morale, For the Thatcher incident has tended to divert attention away from their lacklustre start to the season. continuing the poor run of form that blighted them at the end of the last Premiership campaign. With one of the smallest squads in the top flight, further depleted by the absence of several summer signings Stuart Pearce`s outfit were desperate for their first win of the season. Badly missing the crooked Andy Cole. Paul Dickov was signed to bring more menace up front. And to show his attacking intent, Pearce brought in Darius Vassell to supplement the Dickov-Bernardo Corradi partnership up front.
Corradi, who was sent off last week at Chelsea, got on the end of a Barton free-kick in the opening minutes, but couldnt keep his header down. Dickov then claimed a penalty after falling over in the box, but it was a clear dive and Uriah Rennie should have booked the diminutive striker. But by the time the ref actually had awarded a spot-kick at the end of first half, enabling Barton to claim the home side’s first goal of the season, Arsenal should have put the game beyond City.
The north Londoners twice hit the woodwork, first through Robin Van Persie. whose rocket hit the post. then through Kolo Toure, whose glancing header struck the bar.
Arsenal welcomed back Thierry Henry after resting him for the midweek Champions League qualifying match against Dynamo Zagreb. Henry could have easily claimed a hat-trick before the interval. After quarter-of·an-hour’s play. Alex Hleb put him through and the French striker twisted past the lumbering Richard Dunne only to see his low shot blocked by keeper Nicky Weaver. The Gunners skipper then missed another good chance, this time set up by Cesc Fabregas, firing an angled shot past Weaver’s right post.
Tomas Rosicky, making his debut in place of the injured Freddie Ljungberg, looks an exciting addition to Arsene Wengers side, The Czech midfielder glided past Micah Richards before pulling the ball back for Gilberto, but the Braziliain’s shot was blocked.
But City, who’d lost five in a row in in front of their own fans before the dire 0-0 draw with Pornpey in midweek, played their part in a thrilling first half. They gave the visitors a scare when Sinclair chested the ball past Justin Hoyte on the right flank and played in Barton. But with time and space to pick his spot, the midfielder chose to try a first-time deft flick, which shaved the post.
After a disastrous end to their last campaign, with only a 1-0 win at Aston Villa to show for their last ten matches, Pearce’s boys were at last giving their fans something to cheer about. After half an hour Corradi, following good work by Sinclair and Dickov on the right, forced Jens Lehmann into a great save with a downward header. And immediately after the restart, man of the match Bar ton sped down the right flank and set up Dickov but the striker side footed tamely at Lehmann. Then slack Arsenal defending from a corner allowed Corradi in for a half chance but the big Italian fired over the bar. Wenger brought on Theo
Walcott for Rosicky but it was another wonderkid. Cesc Fabregas, who tried to rally his team-mates. The midfielder played in Van Persie, but the Dutch star titled wide, and then his run through the middle was brilliantly blocked by Dunne. The City skipper epitomised the fighting spirit of a side that put the disastrous beginning of the season behind them.
ANTHONY CLAVANE WRITING FOR THE SUNDAY MIRROR 27TH AUGUST 2006