Koscielny gets Arsenal the goal they deserve

Posted by Andrew Mangan

GettyImages / Laurence Griffiths/Getty ImagesThe Gunners still remain unbeaten this season after they battled to a 1-1 draw at Etihad Stadium.

Arsenal thoroughly merited the point they earned with a 1-1 draw against champions Man City today.

After a near-faultless first half, some sloppiness in defence allowed the home side to pull ahead off a corner. Vito Mannone will feel he could have done better while Laurent Koscielny and Lukas Podolski were a bit too static as Joleon Lescott headed City into the lead.

It was very much against the run of play and Arsenal probably should have been ahead but for a poor Gervinho touch when played in behind by the excellent Aaron Ramsey. City looked to have perked up as the second half began, but Arsenal worked hard and again took control of the game.

Santi Cazorla tested Joe Hart, but if it was a set piece that was Arsenal's undoing, it was also their salvation. Koscielny was first to react when the ball was headed down, and as he fell backwards, he crashed a shot into the top of the net to give Arsenal the equaliser they deserved.

Both sides had chances to win it after that. Aguero rolled a shot just wide after Koscielny's miscued clearance fell to him at the back post, while Gervinho lashed a shot high and wide after making space on the edge of the box. The composure that capped his fine performance against Southampton was truly missing today, although he could not be faulted for the work he put in.

At the back, the ever-improving Carl Jenkinson put in another fantastically energetic and honest performance, while Per Mertesacker was a giant, literally and figuratively. The German made seven interceptions and his reading of the game ensured that potential danger from City was snuffed out early.

Although slightly culpable for the goal, Koscielny slotted in seamlessly alongside Mertesacker, and Arsene Wenger spoke after the game of the need to rotate his three "first-class centre halves." Certainly it's a good problem for the manager to have and the Frenchman will likely start alongside Johan Djourou in the Capital One Cup in midweek.

Despite a 19-point gap at the end of last season, there was very little between these sides head-to-head, and today's performance showed that this Arsenal team are very much a match for City. The season is long, of course, but this was the first game we could really benchmark Arsenal, to get a real measure of where we are and how we compare.

Arsenal fans should be very encouraged by what they saw today and the unbeaten start to the season has instilled confidence and belief in the team. Coming from behind against the champions showed real character, and to do it twice in a week to win points will have Wenger very pleased with the spirit of his team.

The Arsenal manager called on his players to show that famous "mental strength" ahead of kickoff, and they duly obliged.

ESPN Conversations