Manchester City 2-2 Arsenal: Gunners comeback twice to all but seal Champions League place

Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez cancel out goals from Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne to leave them needing only a draw in their remaining game to seal a Champions League place.

Manchester City 2-2 Arsenal: Gunners comeback twice to all but seal Champions League place
Image source: Arsenal
Manchester City
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Manchester City: (4-4-2) Hart; Sagna, Otamendi, Mangala, Clichy; Navas (Bony 79'), Fernandinho, Fernando (Yaya Touré 79'), De Bruyne; Iheanacho (Sterling 71'), Aguero
Arsenal: (4-2-3-1) Cech; Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal; Elneny (Coquelin 76'), Ramsey; Alexis, Iwobi (Walcott 59'), Welbeck (Wilshere 24'); Giroud.
SCORE: 1-0, Aguero 8'. 2-0, Giroud 10'. 2-1, de Bruyne 51'. 2-2, Alexis 68'.
REFEREE: Anthony Taylor. Booked: Gabriel (71'), Otamendi (90+1'), Fernandinho (90+2').

Arsenal twice came back to rescue a draw at Manchester City that leaves them needing a draw against already relegated Aston Villa next weekend to confirm UEFA Champions League football.

Goals from Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez cancelled out Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne’s efforts in what was still a poor performance from the Gunners.

Lively opening 10 minutes

The hosts started much the brighter side with heavy pressing that caused several errors in the Arsenal back four in the opening minutes, including a comical miss-kick from Laurent Koscielny.

It was City’s pressing that helped them open the scoring after only eight minutes when a cross was nodded down from Fernandinho for Aguero's 24th league goal this season, who finished with a sliced half volley into the bottom corner.

The Gunners hadn’t even left their own half at this point and looked to be struggling but - like most games this season - City’s defence gifted them a route back into the game.

An innocuous cross from Giroud was poorly headed across goal from former-Arsenal fullback Gael Clichy and almost beat Joe Hart in goal but hit the post and went out for a corner.

From the resulting set-piece, Giroud equalised with his first league goal since January. It came from poor marking from City as Elaquim Mangala lost his man and allowed his fellow Frenchman a free header in the box.

Welbeck injury concern

City still looked the better team however, and a Fernando through ball almost created a calamitous situation for the Gunners as Petr Cech and Koscielny collided outside the Arsenal goal but City couldn’t capitalise.

Arsenal also had to deal with losing Danny Welbeck, the Englishman appeared to re-injure the knee that had kept him out of action for ten months before Valentine’s Day and it looks weary for his hopes to make England’s Euro 2016 squad.

Grioud levelled the game with a towering header. | Image source: Arsenal
Grioud levelled the game with a towering header. | Image source: Arsenal

City strike after the interval

After half-time, it was City who continued to push on and they were rewarded six minutes after the restart when de Bruyne finished outside the box to beat Cech with a low shot.

The Belgian got the better of Hector Bellerin from a long ball forward and ran on, unopposed from the Arsenal defence who backed off and allowed him to score.

Kelechi Iheanacho almost put the game beyond doubt three minutes later but his indecisiveness proved costly as his sidefoot effort went wide rather than playing in Aguero.

Arsenal brought on Theo Walcott for Alex Iwobi and the much-maligned winger looked to make a slight difference to Arsenal’s fortunes and added more woes to Clichy’s game who twice allowed him into the box and would be thankful that Walcott couldn’t finish past Hart.

Sanchez saves a point

Sanchez could, however, he ran at the City defence like de Bruyne and after a quick give and go with Giroud, finished low past Hart for Arsenal’s second equaliser.

It was Arsenal’s last real effort of the game and City perhaps should have stolen the points when substitute Wilfried Bony hit the bar with a sliced sidefooted volley inside the box.

The visitors clung on however and came away with a valuable point that leaves them needing just a point at home next week against Aston Villa to secure third place and automatic qualification for the UEFA Champions League.

Manchester City will now be relying on either West Ham United or Bournemouth to take points off rivals Manchester United who know two wins from those two games will see them overtake City into fourth place.