Manchester City start the New Year where they left off

Rodri celebrates after scoring the late winner for Manchester City against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday. (Photo by IAN KINGTON/IKIMAGES/AFP via Getty Images)

Arsenal made Manchester City sweat but Guardiola’s side came out on top

Usually, the start of a new calendar year marks the “new year, new me” motto where someone is going to better themselves. More often than not, that applies to everyone. Manchester City is one exception.

The league leaders started the new year exactly how they left 2021 by going to the Emirates and coming away with a 2-1 win over Arsenal to climb 11 points against Chelsea pending their game against Liverpool.

However, it wasn’t easy or without controversy.

Arsenal proved their recent run of form is not solely down to their opponents as Mikel Arteta’s set-up stifled City. The Gunners were arguably the better team over the course of 90 minutes. They more than deserved going ahead in the first half courtesy of Bukayo Saka.

Arsenal went into halftime leading 1-0 but that lead, and the game, went away early in the second half when City equalized on a controversial penalty call — one of a handful of referee decisions Arsenal were aggrieved by.

Riyad Mahrez scored from the spot to tie the game. From there, things went from bad to worse for the Gunners.

“I have no doubt about the [City] penalty,” Rodri said. “I had doubt in the first action, I didn’t know if there was enough contact but I get close to the screen and it’s a clear penalty.

“I didn’t watch [the Odegaard shout] in the screen like I did for the second penalty.”

Source: Manchester Evening News

Two minutes later, Gabriel picked up a second yellow card and was sent off, leaving the home side with 10 men.

Credit to Arsenal who were able to manage the game despite being down a player and the Gunners seemed like they were going to pick up a point.

However, three minutes into stoppage time, Rodri scored the winner for City to the delight of City supporters and the dismay of Arsenal.

Given his reaction, Rodri knew exactly how important the winner was in the race for the Premier League title.

“I’ve learned from the last years you have to push always no matter what happens,” Rodri said. “We were 1-0 down in the break. Suddenly things change. Our mentality, we didn’t do a great game, we pushed, never dropped, always thought it was possible. In the 90 minutes, I don’t know what I was doing there with Laporte. It was crazy but three points are vital.”

Source: Manchester Evening News

On the basis of the match, a draw would have been a fair result but City managed to pick up all 3 points and put an even tighter grip atop the table.

For Arsenal, they’re certainly going to feel that they deserved something from the game. Because of how well they were playing leading up to the match, a moral victory is not something they are going to hang their hats on.

But the fact they are coming out of a game against Manchester City feeling they were the better team does speak well of the work Arteta is doing.

“You always have two or three games like this in a season. They showed why they are in their position. The way they have grown with Mikel [Arteta] is huge,” Guardiola said after the match.

Source: ESPN

“New year, new me” may not apply to Guardiola’s team, but if this game is anything to go by, it could apply to Arsenal who are finally turning the tide under Arteta.

The victory brings City up to 53 points and the club remain in first place. The defeat keeps Arsenal at 35 points and in fourth, five points ahead of West Ham United.