Cole provides Wright answer

Manchester City 0 - Arsenal 1

With Brian Clough you often got more heat than light, but when it came to the torn feelings of the average football fan towards the champions, he was hard to fault. "Brilliant," he said, before the barb was exposed. "It sticks in the craw a little bit, because nobody likes Arsenal."

Or rather nobody liked them. It is hard to feel negative about a side who play club football in such an exciting manner and "Boring, boring Arsenal" is about as relevant now as the "We hate Nottingham Forest" chants that were reprised during Clough's glory days at the City Ground. The current Forest are too peripheral to despise; the Gunners, at their silky best, too thrilling.

Manchester City tried to halt the purring Rolls-Royce yesterday and at least had Arsenal's engine straining at times but not so much that they could grab a reward from Arsenal, who now have a near-perfect 19 points from seven games. The blue moon did not rise over Eastlands last night and the clock on the undefeated League record has reached 47.

City laboured prodigiously but they were unable to give their potential match-winner, Shaun Wright-Phillips, enough of the ball. Arsène Wenger had expressed his admiration for the City winger on Friday - "Could he be an Arsenal player? It is not impossible, but I don't know yet" - but the Gunners manager's attention was drawn from the England winger he clearly covets to the man marking him: Ashley Cole.

The Arsenal left-back not only did a good job in suppressing Wright-Phillips, but he was a constant thorn in City's right flank, scoring the goal that kept his side top of the Premiership and hitting a post. It is not every day Thierry Henry is eclipsed on the left, but he was yesterday.

"I'm not surprised Ashley was there," Wenger said, "but the way he took the goal was surprising. He was like a striker, he kept a cool head." On the result, he added: "Ideally we want to win 3-0, but I have to be a realist. I can go along with the fact the team can win 1-0."

Kevin Keegan was also in a generous mood, describing Arsenal as the best team he had ever met as a Premiership manager. "We put a lot of sweat on the shirts and played with a big heart, but we were still beaten by an excellent side," he said. "They are great with a capital G."

The champions lurched into the North-west reeling from their worst result of the season, a draw against Bolton, but it was soon apparent they were thoroughbreds among mongrels. To be fair to City, they had the excellent Jens Lehmann scurrying to save from Jon Macken after four minutes and would have taken the lead three minutes later if Nicolas Anelka's volley had found the top corner instead of flying just wide.

Amid these isolated home breaks, however, Arsenal were so smooth that their play could have been set to music and the only surprise about their 14th-minute goal was that a City player managed to play a part in it. Jose Antonio Reyes cut in from the left à la the injured Robert Pires and his pass was heading for Henry's run until Richard Dunne stuck out a boot. It was to no avail, though, because Cole, with the deadliness of a seasoned striker, darted in to take the rebound, slid past a potential challenge and then flicked the ball past David James with the outside of his foot.

Cole almost repeated the trick minutes later but the bounce eluded him as he burst into the area and it was Henry who came closest to extending Arsenal's lead in the first half, pushing just wide from a narrow angle on the left after 28 minutes and then shooting at James from the right a minute before the interval.

Arsenal almost stretched their lead after 50 minutes when Henry galloped down the left and drilled a low pass across the six-yard box. James's fingertips just diverted the ball away from Freddie Ljungberg and when the Swede turned, Sun Jihai was there to clear off the line.

Cole, who was proving Arsenal's most potent force in attack, came even closer 15 minutes later when his charge down the left culminated with a shot against the post and as their goal lived a charmed life, City could sense their reward was within touching distance.

Anelka, against his former club, was in one of his more dynamic moods and spearheaded a rally that could have brought an equaliser. Balls were fired at Lehmann, who dealt admirably with a series of high crosses, but the nearest City came to ruining the champions' day came when the French striker emerged just ahead of Sol Campbell to get a touch on Macken's pass from the right. A touch was all it was, however, and Lehmann saved to his right.

Like so many others in a remarkable run, the goal City needed would not come. One-nil, as they say in north London, to the Arsenal.

Suggested Topics
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Sport
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Sport
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam