Manchester City 0 Arsenal 1

Last updated : 25 September 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Arsenal maintained their remarkable record against Manchester City by registering an 11th straight victory.

Ashley Cole's first-half goal keeps the Gunners top of the Premiership and extended their unbeaten run to 47 league matches.

Despite City's spirited showing, however, they still haven't managed a win against the Gunners since 1991.

And in that time, City have managed to pick up a measly two points from a possible 45, such has been Arsenal's domination in this fixture.

Sol Campbell returned after injury for his first match of the season for Arsenal, who were without Robert Pires and Gilberto Silva, who were both ruled out with knocks.

City were without Ben Thatcher, while the out of favour Robbie Fowler again couldn't win a place in their 16.

Kevin Keegan's side, who had beaten Crystal Palace and Barnsley in their past two games, made a spirited start twice going close in the opening exchanges.

Jonathan Macken forced goalkeeper Jens Lehmann into a diving save with a long-range drive, while Nicolas Anelka's shot from well outside the penalty area was narrowly off target.

Arsenal were also dangerous early on with Edu and Jose Antonio Reyes both firing wide.

It was the Gunners who made the initial breakthrough in the 14th minute through an unlikely source - defender Cole.

The England left-back popped up from nowhere in the City penalty area, running on to a Reyes throughball and firing a shot low to the right of goalkeeper David James.

Arsenal would've doubled their lead, but for James' possess alertness as he raced out of his penalty area to deny Reyes who burst clear through on goal.

Former Arsenal striker Anelka came close to an equaliser while at the opposite end, Thierry Henry fired inches wide after cutting in from the left past Richard Dunne.

Lehmann was seldom troubled, though he had to be alert to tip over a header from Antoine Sibierski, which was dipping under the crossbar.

Henry remained menacing and a minute before half-time, he forced James to make an excellent save to keep out his angled drive.

Paul Bosvelt became the first player to be booked shortly after the break for a late tackle on Patrick Vieira, who was making his 250th appearance for Arsenal.

City had a let off when James failed to gather a low cross from Henry, but Sun Jihai saved the day, diving in to block Freddie Ljungberg's goalbound shot.

Though Arsenal were largely in control, City occasionally threatened with Anelka invariably the source of the danger.

Macken broke on the right and centred for Anelka, who skipped past Kolo Toure and fired in a shot which forced Lehmann into a diving save low to his left.

Anelka then thundered in a venomous free-kick from over 30 yards out which forced Arsenal's German keeper to acrobatically tip the effort over the crossbar.

City were enjoying their best spell of the match and Arsenals response was to take off Reyes and bring on Gael Clichy to give them more defensive steel.

Cole came within a lick of paint of putting Arsenal 2-0 up in the 70th minute when his cross beat James, but thudded against the woodwork.

City made a double substitution, taking off the hard working Macken and midfield man Bosvelt as Willo Flood came on for his Premiership debut, while Steve McManaman returned after recovering from an Achilles tendon injury.

Spirited City continued to carve out a number of decent chances, but were unable to find a way past Lehmann.

Joey Barton, who had earlier in the week signed a new three-year contract, powered in a drive, which deflected off Vieira for a corner.

Anelka's rocket free-kick from 35 yards flew just wide, while McManaman fired in a long range-shot which luckily flew straight at Lehmann.

Arsenal made their second and third substitutions in the 88th minute, taking off Ljungberg and Dennis Bergkamp, replacing them with Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie.

In the case of Van Persie, he became the 100th player Arsenal have used in the Premiership, since its inception in 1992.

Luckily Arsenal didn't appear to pick up any more injuries which was a relief for Arsene Wenger as he prepares for Wednesdays Champion League game in Norway against Rosenborg.

Man of the Match: Ashley Cole – Gave an assured display on the left side of the Gunners defence and even had time to pop up to net the only goal of the game.