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LONDON – Arsenal twice fought back to hold Manchester City 2-2 in the Premier League on Sunday after the attacking resilience of Arsene Wenger's side was undermined by defensive deficiencies.
Although goals from Theo Walcott and Shkodran Mustafi prevented Arsenal from sinking to a fifth loss in six league games, the failure to collect three points further damages the team's bid to qualify for the Champions League.
Arsenal remains seven points behind fourth-placed City, albeit with a game in hand over Pep Guardiola's side. For City, which led through Leroy Sane and then Sergio Aguero, it is now about locking down a Champions League spot rather than winning the league trophy for the first time since 2014.
Chelsea gave title rivals a glimmer of hope by losing to Crystal Palace on Saturday, but City is 11 points behind the leaders with nine games left.
Guardiola has time to turn it around at City with the Spaniard in his first season in charge. Patience is wearing thin at Arsenal, though, with the title drought in its 13th year.
Arriving at the Emirates Stadium can now resemble attending a political protest movement. There are street rallies against the long-standing immovable leader and trucks carrying campaign messages.
Gauging how deep the feelings run against Wenger is hard to assess. One supporters' trust published a survey earlier in the week that showed a clear majority of fans want the manager to leave, but it yielded only a few hundred responses.
Inside the 60,000-capacity stadium, there was more apathy than anger throughout the game in the spring sunshine — even after conceding within five minutes of kickoff.
Kevin De Bruyne picked out the run of Sane with a long ball and the German outpaced Hector Bellerin, then rounded goalkeeper David Ospina before slotting in his eighth goal of the season.
This should have been a game when City was more susceptible in defense with Jesus Navas deployed as a makeshift right back but Arsenal was producing little to unsettle goalkeeper Willy Caballero.
It did take a defensive muddle for Arsenal to equalize five minutes before halftime.
Nicolas Otamendi's poor clearance was seized on by Mustafi who headed high over the defense and, as Gael Clichy dithered, Walcott knocked in the equalizer.
Parity only remained for 131 seconds before City was back in front. Once again, Arsenal was too open at the back and made to pay for it. David Silva laid the ball off to Aguero and the Argentina forward slotted into the bottom corner.
Had Walcott angled his shot lower just before the break, City's lead would have been eradicated again but Arsenal did draw level again eight minutes into the second half.
Mesut Ozil was the provider, and Mustafi rose above Otamendi to head in the forward's corner.