The buildup to the game was largely on the return of the captain Cesc Fabregas, after a long 3 ½ mths layoff since the Liverpool game. But it was another returning player who stole all the headlines.
After the international break, Van Persie, Nasri, Diaby and Bendtner all returned with varying degrees of injury. Only the Dane recovered sufficiently to earn a place on the bench. 3 players returned from injuries, Fabregas, Adebayor and Walcott.
The team started as follows, Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Song, Denilson, Fabregas, Arshavin, Walcott and Adebayor.
The game started brightly, with the visitors having the first chance, with Bellamy forcing his way into the box via the left channel. Denilson cleared the danger, only as far as De Jong, who tested Almunia with a low shot, which was comfortably saved by the Spaniard-soon-to-be-English. The visitors have signaled their intention to come and attack.
Arsenal’s first clear chance fell to Adebayor in the 8th minutire, who made no mistake. Robinho fouled Sagna near the touchline, and Fabregas floated in a delicious freekick into the box. Comical defending by City saw 2 defenders challenging for the same ball, which eventually came to Adebayor. He didn’t even have to leap of the ground, just guiding the ball past Given with his head. 1 nil to the Arsenal. Adebayor is back after a hamstring layoff, and he didn’t look rusty at all.
Possession and chances were coming the way of the home side, with Toure, Denilson, Fabregas and Adebayor all having chances to double the lead, only for Given to come to the rescue.
The half wore on and City had 2 enforced changes, Bridge and Kompany leaving the field with injuries, with Fernandes and Elano coming on.
With the introduction of Elano, there was more attacking purpose to the visitors, but the next goal would come to the home team.
Shortly after the 2nd half kickoff, Fabregas once again provided the ammunition for Adebayor to fire us ahead. An angled scoop pass over the defence saw Dunne desperately trying to flick the ball away from Adebayor, but he might have done it if he had a giraffe’s neck. The ball fell perfectly for the big striker in the box, rounding a stranded Given before sliding the ball into an empty net. 2 nil to the home side.
The return of Fabregas and Adebayor had provided the firepower and ammunition, but Walcott was doing fine as well. Darting runs down the right proved difficult for the defence, and a few long range efforts might have ended up in the net if they were more accurate. But the result was seldom in doubt, especially after Adebeyor’s second.
Substitutions saw Adebayor, Fabregas and Walcott leave the field to rapturous applause, on came Bendtner, Eboue and Ramsey.
By now, the home side were creating chances with almost every attempt. Gallas and Toure charged up field, with the former flashing a cross shot and the latter firing in a long range effort.
There was to be no 3rd goal, but it was a massively satisfying result and performance, especially the successful return of the 3 we have missed so long.
Happy days continue, next up, Villareal.