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27 July 2012
• Beijing National Stadium, Beijing
Thanks for stopping by folks. Manchester City fans: congratulations, looks like you team is still the one to beat this season! Arsenal fans: don't get too down-hearted, after all, it's only a pre-season game!
90' + 2'
Vermaelen bombards up the pitch and forces a save from Pantilimon, but it's the last action of the game. Arsenal have lost 2-0 to Premier League champions Manchester City.
90' + 1'
Substitute Adam Johnson whips a corner in but it's cleared with considerable ease by the Gunners.
A late bit of pressure from City now, the fire has really died from this game though as Arsenal accept the defeat.
Oxlade-Chamberlain almost buries an effort once again, the 18-year-old's shot swerving mid-air to drift just wide of the left upright.
Pantilimon flaps successfully at a curling Arsenal cross from the right and City scamper the loose ball away. Looks like the Manchester side will hang on on Beijing.
Aneke squirms a shot - off-balance - a metre or two over the crossbar from 30 yards in front of goal.
Tevez is withdrawn for George Evans, a 17-year-old of Man City's.
...no, no they can't. The set piece is hammered into the waiting Man City wall.
Arsenal have a free-kick 25 yards out on the right edge of the City box. can the Gunners get a late goal back...
Both sets of players looking weary - City in defence and Arsenal in attack. 10 minutes remain.
Savic goes to sleep and Kolo Toure thinks he's got it covered but Arsenal spring a surprise. Chamakh backheels inside the box when seemingly trapped and Aneke's shot almost dribbles into the bottom corner.
Now Gibbs gets in on the long shot act that everybody else on the pitch seems to have tried today. The full-back forces a save from Pantilimon to the keeper's right, but the effort was possibly heading wide anyway.
Biton's getting himself properly involved at both ends of the pitch at the moment! The City midfielder slices a shot wide when he skims back for him on the edge of the Arsenal box.
Aneke darts sideways past City's Biton and the young Arsenal attacker fires goalwards. Pantilimon continues to impress this afternoon by diving to his left and denying the Gunners a lifeline.
Since that slip in concentration, Arsenal have barely had the ball out of their feet. 18 minutes to find a goal, or two, or three.
Oh, and it should have cost them again! Aguero is slotted through from the right by Tevez and should've nicked it past or over Fabianski with his first touch but inside he chipped it wide-right of the goal. Poor finish from the Argentine, and Arsenal remain in this clash...just.
Stat attack: Arsenal have had 58% possession this match. Sums up their superior control for much of the match really. Sadly for them, their five minute defensive lapse might have cost them.
Kolo Toure proves impressive long passes run in the family when he switches the ball from right-to-left diagonally to the in-space Aguero. The City forward cannot make it past the right-back however, and Arsenal continue to try to find a way back into the match.
Wenger makes three more substitutes: Jenkinson, Gervinho and Song make way for Chuks Aneke, Benik Afobe and Craig Eastmond.
Man City counter-attack in the pouring rain with Tevez and Aguero, two-on-two, but Tevez's ball to Aguero after a winding run is blocked and Wenger's men have the ball back.
Oxlade-Chamberlain's corner is slightly cleared by City but not far enough, and the Gunners continue to stay camped around the Blues' 18-yard box.
Song's passing has vastly improved since the start of the game. His dinked chip is perfectly accurate, landing nicely on Chamakh's forehead, but the striker cannot direct it past Pantilimon.
Gervinho is through on goal and drags his shot centrimetres wide but it won't matter as Sian Massey has correctly called the Ivorian winger marginally offside. The chance has upped the volume inside this bird's nest stadium nonetheless.
A rare second-half City attack but Aguero couldn't control Kolarov's ball on the left-edge of the Gunners' box.
Song dips a delightful ball in from the left but it's a tad too heavy and drifts over every waiting Arsenal head. A little over half an hour left and it remains 2-0 to Manchester City.
So close!! Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is denied by both posts with one shot! The Arsenal winger strikes the ball sweetly 30 yards out and it cannons off the side of the right post before bouncing sideways into the left upright, then dribbling away from goal. The 18 year-old is so unlucky not to have the Gunners back in this match.
Santos flails to the floor AGAIN, and Howard Webb isn't being fooled by his exagerrated diving AGAIN. He's a good player is Andre Santos, but he needs to work out when and when not to go to ground.
Zabaleta is incorrectly deemed offside on the right wing and Arsenal have a bit of luck coming their way at last it seems.
Oh Arsenal, how are you not level?! It's four on three, Chamakh gives a similar pass to Gervinho just like Yaya Toure did for Zabaleta for the first goal. Unfortunately for Gunners fans in the ground, the former Lille attacker cannot direct his shot past Pantilimon.
Andre Santos tries to spectacularly turn into the Blues' box but sprawls to the floor when Kompany takes the ball from his tangled feet. No free-kick, and correctly so.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has a long shot blocked then five seconds later Coquelin has a shot from a similar position also prevented from reaching the goal by a City defender's body.
Gervinho almost made it onto the end of Song's sliding-pass into the City box. Plenty of pace in that Ivorian winger. Then again, he is a winger. Is there a single good winger on the planet who is slow?!
Gibbs and Jenkinson have both made crucial tackles already this half. The tempo remains very high in this game.
Ignasi Miquel on for Bartley, Francis Coquelin on for Diaby, Oxlade-Chamberlain on for Walcott, and Marouane Chamakh on for Arteta. I think. Arsene Wenger just had to confuse me by sending them all on at once didn't he...
There's about a million (more like four) Arsenal subs, I'll bring you the info in a second. The second half has just begun.
City players meander back onto the pitch led by, among others, goalscorers Toure and Zabaleta.
Another fun fact: the stadium playing host to this match cost around $500 million to build, and now it's barely used!
I'd be surprised if Manchester and Arsenal don't make any changes at half-time. And if Carl Jenkinson stays on after being at fault for both goals then it will be a minor miracle...
Will we see Arsene Wenger's side recover in a similar fashion to their comeback against Malaysia XI? City are certainly no Malaysia though, most would argue...
Well, well, well, that's half-time, and this game has really turned on its head! Arsenal were only in control loosely, but 2-0 is not a deserved scoreline for the Blues. Still, whoever said football was fair?
Goal Yaya Touré
GOAL!! Manchester City go two goals ahead! The Gunners are caught out again, this time when Kolarov finds space down the left and whips a low cross for Aguero at the back post. The striker nudges the ball goalwards instinctively and Toure gets to the loose ball before an Arsenal shirt to make it 2-0 to Roberto Mancini's men.
Goal Pablo Zabaleta
GOAL!! Pablo Zabaleta makes a run off the ball past Yaya Toure, and the Ivorian just has to slot the right-back in 10 yards out and the Argentine hammers it into the back of the net for the Blues to take the lead. Arsenal 0-1 Manchester City!
Toure charges beyond Diaby and Song into the final third but City striker Aguero leans back too much on the edge of the box once the ball is given to him, and the ball loops high of Fabianski's crossbar.
Neat attacking play but a poor final pass from Song. Clearly the African midfielder is yet to rediscover how to pass now that his summer holidays have passed an pre-season has begun...
Finally, City get a distance attempt on target! Costel Pantilimon is called into action as Santos' 25-yarder is heading into the top-right corner before the Blues keeper pushes it wide with his fingertips.
Gervinho dances past Savic but cannot get his low cross beyond Kompany's imposing body.
Jenkinson has his long-shot effort now! All the Gunners are at it this afternoon! This time it's not as close as Walcott's prior blast but it's still near enough to cause some nervous City glances from further up the pitch.
City remain pinned in their half most of this match. The north London team win a free-kick when City trialist Nir Biton brings Santos down on the left flank.
Very, very, very close to a spectacular goal from Walcott! Arsenal counter-attack after Toure is tackled on the edge of their area, and the move culminates in the Gunners forward smashing a shot from 30 yards that screeches inches past the top-right corner.
Arsenal try to intricately pass it around the box and into the 18-yard area but their passing is a little rusty and City get the ball back. Walcott looking lively so far.
A pause in play as Santos nurses an injury on the floor in Arsenal's half.
City almost ahead! Aguero twists and turns into the box before Jenkinson leaps to block his goalbound shot!
Arteta whips a corner in but its headed clear before Santos curls the ball past the left post.
Arteta's lazy pass almost cost Arsenal a goal! Kyle Bartley recovers excellently when Yaya Toure powers past him into the box, and the Gunners just about clear the danger for now.
The Gunners are working the ball across the midfield, looking for a gap in the defence, but Arteta gives the ball away in the centre of the pitch...
It's Tevez's turn to get called offside now. Arsenal had been deprived of possession for a good minute before that hiccup.
Kompany showing why he has been given a new six-year City contract when, one-on-one, he prevents Gervinho from passing him with another weaving run from the Ivorian. Boos from the Gunners sections of the crowd but it was a top interception.
Gervinho gets the crowd animated with a storming run from the halfway line into the Man City box, but his through ball to Walcott is blocked by Vincent Kompany.
Alex Song gives the ball away for the third time this match when he carelessly passes wayward of intended receiver Kieran Gibbs.
Kolarov worms his way inside the pitch from the left on the edge of the box but Thomas Vermaelen manages to block the on-target effort for a Blues corner.
Tevez wins a free-kick after Alex Song bumbles into the back of him, but City fail to keep possession after the free-kick from 50 yards out.
Since Tevez's scuffed shot, City have been nowhere near the final third. Gunners fans will be grinning with glee inside the Beijing stadium as their team are in the ascendency.
Abou Diaby sends Walcott loose down the right and the England winger turns inside with a fancy flick, squares the ball for Andre Santos, but the Brazilian's shot is blocked by Kolo Toure from 25 yards out.
Arsenal's names on the backs of their shirts are in Chinese, that's a nice little touch! The Gunners are currently in possession, trying to work their way up the pitch from the back.
Neither side has a foothold in the game yet, but the tempo is high and the action is relatively end-to-end.
Stefan Savic sends Theo Walcott clattering to the Chinese turf with a foul that would undoubtedly be a yellow card to the Blues defender if this was a competitive match. Today, though, he gets away with a warning.
Y Toure bursts into the box from the right and slots it sideways for Tevez, but the City striker scuffs the shot slightly and Lukasz Fabianski saves with ease.
Fun fact: the Gunners finished 19 points behind Premier League champions last season!
Aleksandar Kolarov whips a cross in narrowly from the left, but an Arsenal body blocks it on the edge of the six-yard box.
Immediately, Aguero is flagged offside from Yaya Toure's lofted ball and it's a close call. Carl Jenkinson looks in the replay like he's in line with the Argentina international.
And were off! Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero get the game started on the halfway line.
We're seconds from kick-off, with Howard Webb a familiar face as the referee!
Neither side are the home team of course - this match is being played in Bejing's 'bird nest' stadium. Fitting that these two English teams do battle in the arena that the last Olympics opened in, mere hours before London 2012 gets under way in England!
The last time these two teams faced off Mikel Arteta scored a late winner for the Gunners in a 1-0 win at the Emirates Stadium. Mario Balotelli was sent off in that clash but there's no sign of the controversy-magnet in the line-up this afternoon.
Manchester City: Pantilimon; Savic, Kompany, K Toure, Kolarov; Zabaleta, Y Toure, Razak, Biton; Aguero, Tevez.
Arsenal: Fabianski; Jenkinson, Vermaelen, Bartley, Santos; Song, Diaby, Arteta; Gervinho, Walcott, Gibbs.
Team line-ups coming up, and they're pretty strong for a pre-season friendly-of-sorts...
Hello and welcome to our play-play-by of Arsenal v Manchester City! Yes, this may just be a pre-season clash, but it's a fantastic chance for either side to get the upper-hand psychologically before the Premier League begins in just over three weeks time! I'm Miles Chambers and I'll be with you until the bitter/sweet end (depending on who wins and who you support).
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