Nasri fails to break Man City down as they keep a third successive clean sheet
By Jonathan Stevenson
Arsenal failed to break down a stubborn Manchester City side at the Emirates as both sides missed the chance to put pressure on leaders Manchester United.
The Gunners, third in the Premier League, were the better team throughout but Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott all struck the post.
Walcott felt he should have had a penalty and Van Persie forced a stunning save from keeper Joe Hart.
Bacary Sagna and Pablo Zabaleta were sent off after a late confrontation.
It was a disappointing way for the game to finish, with Sagna guilty of leaning his head in towards Zabaleta's after a challenge by the touchline, though what the Argentine did to warrant a dismissal is anyone's guess.
Wenger proud of Arsenal display
Arsenal will be the more frustrated of the teams as the result keeps City second, two points behind United having played two games more, while the Gunners are four points behind having played once more than the leaders.
A goalless draw seemed an unlikely outcome when the game started at a stunning pace as Arsenal, keen to establish themselves as United's principal challengers this season, stormed out of the blocks in thrilling fashion.
They tore into a stunned City and there was only a minute on the clock when Samir Nasri slipped Jack Wilshere into the area, the 19-year-old's left-foot pass to the far post agonisingly evading a lunging Van Persie.
City responded immediately with a lightning-quick counter-attack as the template for the game was set; James Milner collected a Yaya Toure pass on the right-hand side of the box, but the midfielder wastefully lashed his shot wide of the far post.
With Carlos Tevez chasing down every lost cause like his life depended on it, City always had an out ball but Arsenal had such a monopoly on possession that they barely had to give thought even to the Argentine.
As the Gunners attacked in unrelenting waves of red the opportunities started to fall their way, as the outstanding Wilshere fired at Hart and then Van Persie jinked into space only to see his arrow-like 18-yard left-foot rocket shot cannon back off the base of Hart's right-hand post.
Wilshere had another shot saved low down by Hart as City struggled to keep up with Arsenal's flowing forward play, the home team always appeared to be one step ahead as City boss Roberto Mancini showed his annoyance by remonstrating with his players on the touchline.
Walcott dragged another presentable chance wide before Arsenal - who by this stage must have thought they were cursed - hit the woodwork twice in succession as Cesc Fabregas rifled against the inside of Hart's right-hand post from the edge of the box before Walcott hammered the rebound high up against the other upright.
City were never more than one clever break away from going ahead against the run of play and Tevez volleyed wide from 20 yards out after one such move that threatened to catch the visitors out, but that merely provided the visiting defenders with a momentary respite from their exertions.
Important not to lose - Mancini
Walcott thought he should have had a penalty when his cross appeared to strike the arm of Vincent Kompany and, either side of the break, Van Persie forced Hart to save one shot and fired another wide as City's goal continued to lead a charmed life.
England number one Hart produced a magnificent moment to deny Van Persie once more just after the hour mark, leaping across his goal to fingertip the Dutchman's crashing 25-yard, top corner-bound drive away.
City sent on Adam Johnson for the ineffective Jo and the Englishman at least gave notice that he wanted to run at the Arsenal defence, but his team-mates had been run into the ground by then and no-one could get up in support of the winger.
As injury time approached, Zabaleta slid in on Sagna and the Frenchman reacted furiously, leaning his head into the left-back in similar fashion to Younes Kaboul when the Spurs man was sent off against Newcastle last week.
It was surprising to see referee Mike Jones flash his red card in the direction of Zabaleta as well as Sagna, but perhaps it was a fittingly frustrating end to a game which never quite adequately came to life.
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