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Flamini makes Man City wait

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Mathieu Flamini1

Reuters.

Arsenal's Mathieu Flamini celebrates scoring during their English Premier League soccer match against Manchester City at The Emirates Stadium in London March 29, 2014.

London - Manchester City could not exploit an earlier defeat by Premier League leaders Chelsea and had to be content with a point from a 1-1 draw at Arsenal on Saturday.

The visitors looked on course for the summit after taking an 18th-minute lead through David Silva, but Mathieu Flamini earned his side a share of the spoils early in the second half.

City would have moved ahead of Chelsea, who had surprisingly lost 1-0 at Crystal Palace, and Liverpool, who are at home to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, had they won, but Chelsea remain at the summit for now.

Manuel Pellegini's side stay in third place, but will have two games in hand over their rivals once the Liverpool game is concluded, so their title destiny remains in their own hands.

Arsenal's title hopes continue to fade, however, as they find themselves still in fourth, five points behind Chelsea with only six games remaining.

Arsenal made one change from the side that drew 2-2 at home to Swansea City on Tuesday due to a late Flamini own goal, with Lukas Podolski replacing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Unsurprisingly, City retained the same starting XI that had won 3-0 at Manchester United on the same night.

City had scored early at Old Trafford and almost repeated the trick when Jesus Navas curled just wide in the third minute after the visitors had twice got in behind the home defence on the right flank.

Kieran Gibbs was finding himself exposed on the left of the home defence, with Podolski offering little protection in front of him.

Arsenal replied with a ball into the box from Santi Cazorla that saw Tomas Rosicky go down under Pablo Zabaleta's challenge.

The City defender had not got the ball, but referee Mike Dean awarded a goal-kick rather than the penalty Arsenal wanted.

City then opened the scoring through Silva, who started and finished the counter-attack himself.

The Spain midfielder brought the ball forward before slipping Edin Dzeko in on the left.

The striker's low shot cannoned back off goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny's near post to Silva, who got enough of a touch to divert it into the net.

Flamini put the ball in the City net straight after with an effort that bounced over City goalkeeper Joe Hart, but the Frenchman was one of two offside attackers when the cross came in so it did not count.

The setback seemed to galvanise Arsenal, who continued to attack, and Yaya Toure was booked for tugging Rosicky to the ground, with Vincent Kompany also cautioned for a body-check on Mikel Arteta.

The half then drifted into a war of attrition and ended with Rosicky booked for a late challenge on Gael Clichy and Silva cautioned for catching Arteta.

City almost doubled their lead early in the second half when Szczesny's parry of a Navas cross hit Per Mertesacker and bounced just wide.

But Arsenal then equalised in the 53rd minute through Flamini, whose first-time effort from Podolski's left-wing cross beat Hart.

It was not long before Podolski was presented with a great chance to fire Arsenal ahead, but Hart was able to divert his low drive from the left of the box behind for a corner.

City eventually recovered their poise and swapped Navas for James Milner after Szczesny had tipped over a long-range effort from Fernandinho.

Szczesny did well to block from Toure in a scramble, before Dzeko's follow-up was deflected behind.

The final few minutes were tense, with both sides keen to carry on attacking, but not if it meant being caught on the counter-attack, and it was no surprise that the game ended all square. - Sapa-AFP


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