Wenger crisis as Arsenal lurch into disarray

Manchester City 3 Arsenal 0: Hapless Gunners fail to find right response to Gallas' stinging attack and crumble to Ireland-inspired City

Suddenly, that outburst doesn't sound so out of synch after all. "Not brave enough in battle," was one of several ways that William Gallas defined Arsenal in midweek and yes, that pretty much tells the story. If, after a day which included time spent at their London Colney training ground, Arsenal's club captain flicked on the highlights last night, he could have been forgiven for a few well-placed kicks at the coffee table.

His side's performance here, which brought a third League defeat in five games, was shockingly feeble and defensively calamitous. Never were Manchester City's known defensive frailties tested and often did Gallas's absence scream across the turf to Arsène Wenger (right).

Rarely has an air of denial drifted across the City conference room quite so tangibly as when Wenger insisted that this was "a flattering victory" for City and that his side were "quite in control" of the game.

In truth, no one was in control of the game for fully an hour. The first half passed in a blur of misplaced passes from sides whose reputations for aesthetics went before them. Then came a goal which pretty much encapsulated all that Gallas has said about the current Arsenal side. Stephen Ireland – a shining light in the footballing gloom – took a ball from Benjani, eased into the penalty area and, in a comedy of errors, watching Gaël Clichy offer him an unexpected one-two, Ireland gleefully clipped his seventh goal of the season past Manuel Almunia – who was awarded his second shot at captaining Arsenal in Gallas's absence.

Wenger's explanation of the goal – "there were too many players on the same ball" – was almost as painful as the defending and when his players attempted to reverse the deficit there was simply nothing there.

Wenger had arrived in Manchester minus nine first-team regulars. With Cesc Fabregas suspended and Theo Walcott and Emmanuel Adebayor missing, it fell upon individuals utterly out of keeping with title pretensions to propel Arsenal forward. Alex Song was as uncomfortable in a central-midfield role as you would expect. Denilson was febrile again.

As the Gunners floundered, so City prospered, with the fast, counter-attacking game which has now delivered them 29 goals – a record bettered only by Chelsea's 32. The ease with which Shaun Wright-Phillips dispossessed Robin van Persie and strode 20 yards towards goal on 56 minutes would also have disenchanted any club captain. Contrast with that the way Wright-Phillips, displaying precisely the intensity that Arsenal were lacking, placed a ball though the left channel for Robinho, whose lofted flick past Almunia for 2-0, as Gavin Hoyte dashed back, was as exquisite as it was audacious. Arsenal slipped into freefall, light years away from the side which beat Manchester United only two weeks ago.

Clichy had the ball nicked from him by Darius Vassell – when he is tormenting you, it really does spell trouble – and just recovered to place a tackle. Robinho backheeled the ball into the net after Almunia fumbled in front of him, only to be ruled offside. Then Elano, on for Vassell, took his turn to cut open the defence, threading a ball which Robinho took slightly wide in the course of rounding Almunia. It meant his shot was soft enough for Johan Djourou to clear off the line. The knock to the left ankle which Robinho took in the course of the move saw him hobble off, though Mark Hughes does not believe it will rule him out of City's Uefa Cup trip to Schalke in midweek.

Arsenal's day was done in injury time when the young City striker Daniel Sturridge, on the field for three minutes, cut past Song on the dead-ball line, was tripped and converted the ensuing penalty.

Mark Hughes enjoyed only City's second win against Arsenal in the Premier League. His owners are apparently interested in the notion of paying £63m for Juventus' Gigi Buffon. "I don't know what you're talking about," Hughes grinned, when that notion was put to him.

Bereft of any other steel, Wenger might have to put his captain's indiscretions behind both of them. "We can have a captain, we can change a captain without having a political issue of it. Of course he has a future at the club but I believe the less we talk the better it is," he added.

Attendance: 44,878

Referee: Alan Wiley

Man of the match: Ireland

Match rating: 6/10

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
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

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone