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Monday, October 25, 2010

Arsenal step up title challenge

A great weekend for Arsene Wenger's boys saw the Gunners dismantle Manchester City at Eastlands, to take them up into second place in the league.

The day had started very well for the Arsenal, with City's Dedryck Boyata dismissed after just five minutes for a mistimed challenge on Marouane Chamakh. From that point on the game was an exercise in damage limitation for Mancini's side. It didn't take long for Arsenal to crack the City defence open, a clever one-two with Andrey Arshavin allowed Samir Nasri to smash the ball home, the lead should have been doubled just before half time were it not for Hart's goalkeeping heroics in saving Fabregas's penalty.

In truth, Arsenal had not quite hit their stride in the first half and not dominated as they should have. This was all to change after the interval, where the Gunners controlled the game in a master class in playing ten men. Song nicked a second on 66 minutes, and Bendtner sealed the three points on 88 minutes with a well taken finish. The victory was as much due to Wenger's tactics than anything else, and Mancini's £100 million squad barely had a look in. This wasn't because they played poorly, by any stretch of the imagination, but because when Arsenal turn on the class, on those days when it all just comes together for them, they are unstoppable. The football tips suggest they should be in with an excellent shout of winning the title this season.

The win takes Arsenal to second in the Premier League, equal on 17 points with both Manchester clubs, and five behind pace setters Chelsea, and will look to use Sunday's victory as a springboard for more points against Newcastle and in the derby against West Ham.

On the down side it seems that Thomas Vermaelen will be out for longer than expected, maybe even months, and with a long injury list including Van Persie, Ramsey, Koscielny, Almunia and Frimpong, Arsene will be praying he doesn't take on any more casualties with the tough run coming up at the back end of November and into December, including ties with Tottenham, Villa and Manchester United.

If Arsenal can manage to maintain the kind of form which so comprehensively swept aside City, they could finally put together a decent title challenge this season.
Meanwhile, the Everton v Arsenal betting suggests the Gunners can pick up another three points when the clubs meet in a few weeks' time.

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