Man City 1 Arsenal 3
By Paul Chronnell at Eastlands ARSENE WENGER does not go in for the same kind of mind games as his great rival Sir Alex Ferguson. But it was impossible not to notice in the aftermath of Saturday s win how pleased he was to have turned the pressure on Manchester United and Chelsea, for
ARSENE WENGER does not go in for the same kind of mind games as his great rival Sir Alex Ferguson.
But it was impossible not to notice in the aftermath of Saturday's win how pleased he was to have turned the pressure on Manchester United and Chelsea, for a few hours at least.
"We have done our weekend's work, now we go home and watch the other results with interest," said Wenger just as the games at White Hart Lane and Fratton Park were kicking off.
Two hours later and both of Arsenal's title rivals had dropped two points each - Wenger must have been delighted to hear that when he and his players touched down in London after flying back from the north.
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Of course there will be many more twists and turns in this title race before the season is out and two points is not a big gap, but there was no doubt that Saturday was Arsenal's day.
"It is exciting," admitted Wenger, no stranger to these tit-for-tat weekends.
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"The confrontations between us will be key and I do not rule Chelsea out, they play us, Manchester United and Liverpool all at home."
Chelsea host Liverpool at Stamford Bridge this Sunday, and while Rafael Benitez's side are certainly out of the running themselves, they could have a big part to play in the destiny of the Premier League crown.
Arsenal's lead over Chelsea was extended to six points last Saturday - any further slip-up this weekend and they will be under increasing pressure to stay in the race, despite having home advantage in the key clashes.
Only for a brief period early in the second half on Saturday did Arsenal look like they might drop points in the blue side of Manchester.
Cruising at 2-0 after Emmanuel Adebayor's well-worked opener and Eduardo's brilliantly executed second, they left the door ajar when Gael Clichy's aberration allowed Gelson Fernandes to reduce the deficit.
The points were not safe until Adebayor's second two minutes from time, but this was another comma-nding display from Wenger's side.
Arsenal have now won seven out of nine Premier League games since their sole defeat at Middlesbrough in early December.
Three wins in row against Fulham, Newcastle and Manchester City may not sound spectacular, but it is worth noting that from those corresponding games last season Arsenal garnered just a single point.
It has also been achieved with an increasingly thin squad - with Manuel Almunia and Gilberto added to the injury list on Saturday, Wenger was without eight first team regulars at Eastlands.
As a result the team is pretty much picking itself at the moment, and there was much to admire in a classy display that had the home fans applauding them off at the end.
Adebayor was rampant, laying to waste the hitherto almost impregnable duo of Micah Richards and Richard Dunne with a scintillating mix of skill and aggression.
But he was not the only star - Bacary Sagna and Alexander Hleb were dynamic on the right flank, Fabregas and Mathieu Flamini again dominated in the centre and on the left Abou Diaby finally put in a display of which he always looks capable.
"Overall we controlled the game and scored very good goals," added Wenger, who will see roles reversed this weekend, with Arsenal not in action until Monday night when Blackburn come to the Emirates.
He will be hoping City find some form as they head to Old Trafford on Sunday for a Manchester derby that will also serve as a memorial day, 50 years on from the Munich disaster.
And while that tragedy always puts football into perspective, Ferguson will know that a second consecutive slip could leave the Gunners firmly in the driving seat come Monday night.