Belfast Telegraph

Manchester City grind out a point as Arsenal fire blanks

Arsenal 0 Man City 0: Arsenal hit the woodwork twice as Barclays Premier League title rivals Manchester City somehow left Emirates Stadium with a point.

Head bangers: Pablo Zabaleta (left) and Arsenal's Bacary Sagna square up before both saw red last night for a head clash

Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas both saw their first-half shots come back of the base of the same post.

City then had goalkeeper Joe Hart to thank after he produced a wonderful fingertip save to deny Van Persie on the hour as Arsenal had to be content with only a point.

The teams each finished with 10 men after full-backs Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna were shown straight red cards by referee Mike Jones for a needless clash by the touchline.

Arsenal almost snatched an early lead when Samir Nasri played Jack Wilshere into the left side of the penalty area — but his cut-back was just too far ahead of Van Persie, with Theo Walcott's cross from the goalline then hacked clear.

Van Persie again went within inches of putting Arsenal ahead when, after nine minutes, the Dutchman created space for a shot from the edge of the City box and promptly drilled the ball against the base of Hart's right-hand post.

Gareth Barry was cautioned after 21 minutes when he clattered into Sagna as the right-back looked to break clear.

After 27 minutes, Arsenal again hit the woodwork after a quick break through Nasri and Fabregas down the left, with the Arsenal skipper cutting back inside to wrongfoot Hart only for his shot to bounce off the base of the same post as Van Persie's did.

From the rebound, Walcott smashed an angled drive against the other upright, but was offside.

Arsenal were calling for a penalty when Walcott's cross hit Vincent Kompany's trailing arm, but the referee instead gave a only a corner.

On the hour, Hart made a fantastic save to send a goal-bound 25-yard drive from Van Persie over the crossbar.

City boss Roberto Mancini then made a change, replacing the ineffective Jo with Adam Johnson and the visitors looked much more balanced.

As the match entered the final 22 minutes, Walcott was replaced by Arshavin.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger then sent on Nicklas Bendtner, for Wilshere, with 10 minutes left, looking to give Arsenal more presence in attack.

Both teams finished the match with 10 men after Zabaleta and Sagna were shown straight red cards after pushing their heads together.

Despite four added minutes, the breakthrough would not come and City held on for a point which keeps them second.

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