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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 January, 2005, 21:40 GMT
Arsenal 1-1 Manchester City
Shaun Wright-Phillips celebrates his goal at Highbury
Arsenal slipped further behind Chelsea in the Premiership race after dropping points at home to Manchester City.

They were made to pay for a lacklustre opening when Shaun Wright-Phillips scored with a stunning strike from 25 yards in the first half.

The setback sent the home side surging forward in an effort to conjure a reply which eventually came when Freddie Ljungberg scored with a diving header.

Robin Van Persie hit the woodwork late on but Arsenal could not find a winner.

While Ljungberg's equaliser protected a proud unbeaten home record stretching back to May 2003, it will prove little consolation to the consternation of sitting seven points adrift of Chelsea, who beat Middlesbrough 2-0.

City started brightly and grew in confidence as Arsenal laboured to find any natural rhythm.

The home side lacked fluidity and any momentum was invariably undone by errant passes to opposing players.

And when they did threaten to break through the City rearguard on a handful of occasions, Richard Dunne was masterful in his handling of the talismanic Thierry Henry.

Ashley Cole had been equally committed in covering the threat of his England colleague Wright-Phillips.

But after a quiet 30 minutes on the right flank, the City flier found space when Joey Barton caught Patrick Vieira dawdling with the ball on the edge of the area.

The ball broke to Wright-Phillips in space and his curving right-footed effort left Manual Almunia no chance.

The poacher almost turned provider when he found Robbie Fowler in space on the left, but the impressive Justin Hoyte was on hand to deny City another strike on goal.

Belatedly, Arsenal hit their stride.

Vieira headed a Robert Pires corner inches wide when David James failed to connect with the ball after racing off his line.

The captain's effort signalled a picking up of pace from the home perspective as they probed for an opening which half-time failed to quell.

James was repeatedly called into action, making his most telling contribution after the break.

Van Persie picked out Cole at the far post, but the left back failed to convert a free header, instead forcing a smart save from the former England number one.

Dunne was on hand when Van Persie was played in on the right, a lunging tackle denying the Dutchman.

Next in the call to arms at the back came James when he tipped over a Pires long-range effort.

But just as it seemed as if City had seen out the storm, Arsenal struck.

Dunne cleared a Van Persie cross, but Henry scampered to retrieve it and his overhead kick back into the danger area was met by the head of a lunging Ljungberg.

Arsenal attacked with renewed vigour and Van Persie almost gave them the lead with a free-kick which cannoned back off the woodwork.

Henry saw a free-kick of his own go over and the Frenchman also failed to keep a header from a Pires chip forward under the bar with time running out.

On the day Arsene Wenger insisted Chelsea would crack under the pressure it was his charges who buckled first.

It was the least City, particularly Wright-Phillips and Dunne, deserved for their efforts.


Arsenal: Almunia, Hoyte, Toure, Senderos, Cole, Ljungberg, Fabregas (Pennant 65), Vieira, Pires, Henry, Van Persie. Subs Not Used: Lehmann, Clichy, Larsson, Owusu-Abeyie.

Booked: Toure, Fabregas, Senderos.

Goals: Ljungberg 75.

Man City: James, Onuoha, Distin, Dunne, Thatcher, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Barton (Flood 77), Bosvelt, Sibierski, Macken (Bradley Wright-Phillips 90), Fowler. Subs Not Used: Sommeil, McManaman, Waterreus.

Booked: Thatcher, Barton, Bosvelt.

Goals: Shaun Wright-Phillips 31.

Att: 38,086.

Ref: R Styles (Hampshire).




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