Arsenal v Man City: Wayward Welbeck and a raging Pellegrini

By Phil McNultyChief football writer
Alex Sanchez puts Arsenal ahead as he fires past Manchester City keeper Joe Hart
Both sides led but the game ended 2-2 in London on Saturday

Arsenal's draw with Manchester City at Emirates Stadium will have brought both pleasure and frustration to Arsene Wenger and Manuel Pellegrini.

Gunners' boss Wenger was left regretting the failure to hold on for victory while City counterpart Pellegrini saw his side concede a lead before rescuing a point - while also nursing a very obvious sense of injustice over a series of decisions from referee Mark Clattenburg.

All eyes were on Danny Welbeck as he made his debut following his £16m move from Manchester United - and plenty of other talking points came out of a highly entertaining 2-2 draw.

The two sides of Danny Welbeck

Danny Welbeck
At £16m Welbeck may prove a bargain - if he can find a ruthless touch in front of goal

Former Manchester United striker Welbeck was given a standing ovation by Arsenal's fans after he hobbled off late on with cramp - after a performance that perhaps summed up his career so far.

Welbeck was powerful, energetic, unselfish and offered the sort of attacking focal point that will be crucial to an Arsenal side packed with mercurial, but not exactly physical, presence in the shape of Alexis Sanchez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott.

The England striker's departure from Old Trafford was accompanied by a less-than-flattering send off from manager Louis van Gaal, who made an unfavourable comparison between his record and that of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao.

It was somewhat harsh in that few would suggest Welbeck was in that elite bracket - and his chances to perform in his favoured central position were limited at Old Trafford.

Danny Welbeck
Welbeck was clean through - but failed to find the net with his chip

Here, though, there was a moment that drew the mind back to Van Gaal's comments as Welbeck raced clean through on to David Silva's misplaced backpass after 11 minutes. He was composed, only to hit the post with his chip.

It was easy to admire his audacity but arguably he was guilty of over-complicating matters.

On the plus side Welbeck's attitude, as ever, was exemplary and it was his nuisance value (a value not appreciated by angry Manchester City manager Pellegrini) that saw him in close proximity to Vincent Kompany as his clearing header was sent back into the area for Sanchez's equaliser.

Arsenal boss Wenger drew attention to Welbeck's link play, suggesting this is an area for improvement, but this was his first start and his natural footballing intelligence should address this.

If Welbeck can start to look as accomplished a finisher at club level as he does for England, then Wenger will have got himself a bargain at £16m. The raw materials are there to work with - but Welbeck showed he still needs to find that ruthless touch in front of goal.

BBC Radio 5 live analyst Steve Claridge: "I wouldn't say it was a fantastic debut but Welbeck has shown he will have a big part to play in what Arsenal achieve this season."

Pellegrini loses his cool

Manuel Pellegrini
Pellegrini was unhappy at the refereeing on Saturday - and unafraid to show it

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is as undemonstrative as they come - but referee Mark Clattenburg is a man who makes him drop the mask.

Pellegrini clearly remembers Clattenburg's refusal to award a penalty when Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel handled in City's defeat at Anfield late last season and he was in unforgiving mood again here.

The Chilean, who rarely gets rattled, could barely disguise his annoyance at his belief that Sergio Aguero was fouled in the build-up to Jack Wilshere's equaliser and that the England midfield man was also guilty of handball.

We were the better side - Manuel Pellegrini

Pellegrini's final complaint about Welbeck fouling Kompany before Arsenal's second was tenuous, as Manchester City's outstanding captain did not complain and play moved on before Sanchez scored with a fine volley.

The manager's selection brought plenty of comment, with Frank Lampard in for his debut as Yaya Toure was rested and James Milner a pick that hinted at safety first, with Samir Nasri on the bench.

The sight of Chelsea legend Lampard in a City shirt after 13 years and 211 goals in 649 matches for the Stamford Bridge club, making him their record scorer, was almost surreal and this will not be a day he will recall with any pleasure.

The 36-year-old looked out of place and off the pace before being removed at half-time. It is hard to see how Lampard will get any serious game time when City have their full complement available before his full-time move to New York City FC.

Wilshere the driving force

Jack Wilshere
Wilshere flourished at the head of Arsenal's diamond - but will struggle to play there for England

Jack Wilshere gathered mixed reviews for his performance as the defensive point of England's midfield formation during their opening Euro 2016 win against Switzerland in Basel.

In Wilshere's defence, this is not a natural role for a player whose first instinct is to run forward into attacking positions - although even his ability to do that to full effect has been questioned after an indifferent run of form.

This was much better, playing in a position that suits him, where he could run at the heart of Manchester City's defence and link with the likes of Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey and (to a lesser extent as he was very disappointing) Mesut Ozil.

Jack Wilshere
Wilshere capped a commanding performance for Arsenal with their opening goal

Quite whether he will emerge as an England player in this position is open to debate, with Raheem Sterling now surely established as the attacking factor in the diamond and Everton's Ross Barkley still to return from injury.

For Arsenal, however, he has the chance to flourish and this was a performance of authority, and delivered against the Premier League champions.

One note though - Wilshere has to accept that opponents are actually allowed to challenge him without what has become a customary angry response.

On the whole though it was an excellent day for Wilshere.

MOTD presenter Gary Lineker:external-link "Would love for Jack Wilshere to stay fit for a long period. He's a delightful footballer."

Player reaction: "I'm trying to do what I do week in week out, I'm trying to work hard in training and take those performances out on to the pitch. I felt good. I had a good couple of games with the national team, I recovered well and felt fresh today."

Sloppy City

Alexis Sanchez
Having taken the lead City's sloppiness allowed Arsenal to hit back and go in front themselves

As stated, Pellegrini cut a frustrated and angry figure, reserving most of his ire for referee Clattenburg - but he may also have been irritated by the reigning champions' failure to claim the victory.

In such a competitive environment every point will be a prize at the top of the Premier League table this season and City needed to bounce back from that shock home defeat by Stoke City.

After surviving early uncertainty caused by Arsenal's excellence, Aguero gave City the lead and this was the signal for a period of control.

Rather like last March's game here, when City were controlling and in the lead from David Silva's goal only to end up having to settle for a point, they rarely looked assured here and it was no surprise when a period of sloppiness ended with Arsenal not only equalising, but going ahead before Demichelis earned a point.

The ruthless touch will surely come but City were not at their best.

The return of Yaya Toure will help resolve any difficulties and one player who can be absolved from any blame is captain Kompany, who illustrated once more why he is rightly regarded as a member of the world's elite group of defenders.

BBC Radio 5 live analyst Steve Claridge: "Manchester City showed weaknesses when they were put under pressure and that makes you wonder if they will be title-winners."


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