Arsenal 0 – 0 Man City
By Nabil Hassan
Walcott and Zabaleta battle for posession
Manchester City moved to within one point of fourth-placed Tottenham as Arsenal’s mathematical chances of winning the league title disappeared.
But the point came at some cost for City with keeper Shay Given stretchered off with a suspected broken shoulder after he made a second-half save.
In a poor first half, Given was called into action just once, which was more than counterpart Lukasz Fabianski was.
Arsenal’s Robin Van Persie went close late on with his free-kick inches wide.
Arsenal’s best chance of the game came with 20 minutes remaining when Abou Diaby forced a fine save from Given, who superbly tipped the French midfielder’s 20-yard low strike round the post.
But in making the save, City’s keeper injured his left shoulder and play was stopped for five minutes as the former Newcastle keeper received oxygen before he was stretchered off the pitch.
Poor April form cost Arsenal title – Wenger
During a turgid first-half, Arsenal enjoyed the majority of possession but failed to break down a resilient defence that was brilliantly marshalled by former Gunners centre-half Kolo Toure, despite the loss of Wayne Bridge after 27 minutes with a dead leg.
Carlos Tevez was an isolated figure up front as City continuously pumped long balls up to the Argentine, which Arsenal defender Sol Campbell lapped up with consummate ease.
With Tevez struggling, Craig Bellamy and Adam Johnson on the flanks also failed to have any impact in the opening 45 minutes.
Arsenal’s solitary chance came from Smair Nasri whose angled shot from Van Persie’s fine pass was comfortably kept out by Given.
Earlier Nasri had been dubiously flagged offside after latching onto another Van Persie’s through ball with replays suggesting the French international had timed his run perfectly.
At the other end, Campbell’s last-ditch tackle prevented a marauding Patrick Viera from pulling the trigger from just inside the area.
It took City manager Roberto Mancini just six minutes of the second half before he turned to former Gunners striker Emmanuel Adebayor.
He came on for ex-Gunners captain Viera, who left the field to a standing ovation, while Adebayor’s arrival was greeted with a chorus of boos.
That hostile reception was due to Adebayor’s altercation with Van Persie earlier in the season, as well as his infamous goal celebration in front of the Arsenal fans at Eastlands during City’s 4-2 win in September.
Draw at Arsenal is good result – Mancini
City had claims for a penalty turned down when Toure’s low cross was put behind for a corner seemingly off the arm of Campbell as the visitors started to get into the game, thanks largely to Adebayor’s introduction.
Mancini was forced to make a third substitution due to Given’s injury, with Faroe Islands keeper Gunnar Nielsen coming for his City debut.
The game started to become stretched but Arsenal failed to test Nielsen with Van Persie curling a free-kick inches wide, with substitute Nicklas Bendtner later firing straight at the City reserve keeper.
There was eight minutes of injury time but by that stage City seemed content to settle for the point, keeping alive their Champions League hopes, as the visitors packed men behind the ball.
And Arsenal’s attempts to break them down seemed almost half hearted as the realisation of another trophy-less season finally hit home.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger:
“I am not used to games like this.
“We created very little chances. Man City did not create anything, were highly focused on defending and gave us no space.
“We could not find an opener. It was a locked game of very few chances. But we did not throw everything forwards blindly, because we knew we could not afford to lose.
“However, we are nearly there (Champions League) It is 90% now, but not yet 100.”