Arsenal dent City hopes -End poor away run against big teams with 2-0 victory
MANCHESTER, England (AP):
Arsenal finally ended their streak of poor away performances against top teams as Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud scored in each half yesterday for a 2-0 victory at Manchester City that dented the hosts' title hopes.
Cazorla converted a penalty in the 24th minute and then sent in a pin-point free kick that Giroud headed in for the second in the 66th, as Arsenal ended second-place City's 12-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
City dominated possession, but Arsenal, for once, showed the kind of defensive fortitude that so often has been missing in big away games in recent seasons. Arsenal lost 6-3 at City last season, to go with a 6-0 drubbing at Chelsea and a 5-1 defeat at Liverpool.
"It reinforces the belief of the team and gives us confidence," Arsenal manager ArsenË Wenger said. "To feel that we can do well is very important for a group of players."
five points behind
With the loss, City fell five points behind leaders Chelsea. Arsenal climbed above Tottenham into fifth place, one point behind Manchester United. In yesterday's other game, West Ham also gave their European ambitions a boost, as a superb second-half display saw the Hammers beat struggling Hull 3-0.
City, despite the return of striker Sergio Ag¸ero and captain Vincent Kompany, created little against an Arsenal team that seemed content with sitting back to defend - and did it unusually well.
Ag¸ero played up front alone in the first half and had a quiet game, as Arsenal looked the more incisive at times, and fit-again captain Kompany was made to look rusty.
Kompany gave away the penalty when Nacho Monreal attempted to play a one-two with Giroud and was impeded by the City captain as he continued his run into the box.
Cazorla took full advantage from the spot, as he sent a hard shot beyond the reach of Joe Hart.
Wenger started David Ospina in goal, and the Colombian was hardly tested in the first half, as City were unable to muster a dangerous response despite controlling plenty of the ball.
City boss Manuel Pellegrini reverted to his default 4-4-2 set-up after the break, as Stevan Jovetic replaced James Milner and moved alongside Ag¸ero.
The change of approach initially appeared to work, and Ag¸ero had his first serious shot with an effort that deflected wide. Jesus Navas was the first to test Ospina - the deputy keeper again preferred to Wojciech Szczesny - with a powerful effort that was parried away.
Arsenal doubled their lead after Alexis Sanchez was fouled by Jovetic. Cazorla capped
his standout performance by clipping a free kick into the area, and Giroud reacted
quickest, losing his marker, Fernando, to head home in simple fashion.
City tried to hit back, and Monreal cleared unconvincingly over his own bar, but the hosts did not consistently trouble their visitors.
At Upton Park, Sam Allardyce's West Ham side was booed off at half-time after a dismal opening period, but Hull paid the price for some lacklustre finishing, as Andy Carroll, Morgan Amalfitano and Stewart Downing all found the net after the interval.
West Ham climbed above Liverpool into seventh, while Hull manager Steve Bruce has now overseen just two wins in 15 league games.