Arsenal produced a tactically mature performance, largely nullifying Manchester City’s attacking threats.
Manchester City selection
Manuel Pellegrini welcomed back Sergio Aguero, who played as the lone striker with David Silva just behind, and captain Vincent Kompany. City still have some key players unavailable: Samir Nasri is injured, while Yaya Toure is at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Arsene Wenger decided against using fit-again Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott, although Aaron Ramsey returned to take the place of Tomas Rosicky. There were a couple of inexperienced players in the side: Hector Bellerin and Francis Coquelin were notable starters. Meanwhile, Nacho Monreal got the nod over Kieran Gibbs, and David Ospina continued in goal with Wojciech Szczesny on the bench.
This was a distinctly unArsenal performance – they defended deep and with great compactness, although their attacking in open play was unusually poor, and they should probably have created more genuine goalscoring opportunities on the break.
Nevertheless, it adds to the idea that Arsenal have become a more tactically flexible and reactive side when needed, which could prove crucial in the second half of the campaign as they compete on three fronts.