Arsenal vs Manchester City – two of the best passing sides in the English Premier League, and two teams that love to play football the beautiful way. Well, for much of the 90 minutes of the Premier League game one team played that silky passing style, while the other went with a different option, a more physical one, with tackles flying in left, right and centre.
That did not take away from what was an outstanding game of football, however, as Arsenal, yes, playing the only way they know, and Manchester City, heavy tackles flying in time and again, played out an entertaining, have-no-idea-who-is-going-to-win-this 2-2 draw at the Emirates.
Arsenal started the match like a house on fire, with Danny Welbeck nearly making a dream debut courtesy a strike which struck the base of the post, but it was Manchester City who scored the opener courtesy their main man Sergio Aguero.
The Gunners have had to come back in pretty much every game in the Premier League so far this season, and they did it again as Jack Wilshere and Alexis Sanchez struck in the space of 11 second half minutes to put the home side in front.
However, a pathetic piece of defending from Arsenal gifted Martine Demichelis an equaliser as both teams left the Emirates with a point each, with quite a few bodies left battered a bruised.
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini had quite a few interesting inclusions in his starting lineup, with the likes of Fran Lampard, James Milner and Jesus Navas all getting a start, while Sergio Aguero was the lone striker in the XI, even if he did have support from the peerless David Silva. There was no place for Bacary Sagna, who would have wanted a crack at his former side after his summer move from the Emirates.
For Arsenal, of course, Danny Welbeck was included in the starting XI, with the rest of the status quo maintained, and it was the home side who started on the front foot. It was all Arsenal really in the first half going forward, and in terms of possession, with City struggling to even string a few passes together.
You always think of City as a wonderful passing side, with silky movements and one-touch passes much like the Arsenal, but on Saturday afternoon, there was a different Manchester City in town, one that left no prisoners with plenty of bulky challenges on the home team's players on view.
It was clear that Pellegrini had asked his players to be as physical as possible on the Arsenal players, with Fernandinho particularly given the hatchet man's job. It must be said, however, the City midfielder was probably their best player, cutting out play, fairly or unfairly in every possible moment, even if he possibly should have seen a .
Mark Clattenburg did keep the card in his pocket for quite a while in the first half, with Arsene Wenger, after only about 20 minutes gone in the game, screaming at the fourth referee "home many more challenges will it take," emphasising just how physical City were.
All of those tactics would have mattered little, though, had Welbeck seen a wonderful clipped shot over Joe Hart nestle into the corner of the net, rather than the base of the post, with City taking full advantage of that reprieve to hit Arsenal in that proverbial sucker-punch.
Barely in the game, and taking over 20 minutes to even muster a shot, Manchester City suddenly found themselves 1-0 up on 28 minutes as Arsenal's defending on the counter-attack came back to haunt them, with Navas tearing down the right and teeing-up Aguero to slot in past Wojciech Szczesny.
Manchester City slowly started to grow into the game, with the goal giving them confidence, as Silva nearly made it 2-0, forcing a nice save from Szczesny, even if the roughness in their play did not quell for quite a while yet.
Arsenal struggled to find their rhythm after that sucker-punch and it was clear a few encouraging words would be needed from the coaching staff at halftime to rile the team up again.
It was Manchester City, though, who started the better in the second 45, holding much more of the possession, with Arsenal taking their time to get back into that attack-at-all-costs mode.
When the Gunners did hit their stride, though, they treated their fans to two of the most sumptuous goals you are likely to see this season. The first one came in the 63rd minute from Wilshere, who was outstanding throughout, with the midfielder winning the ball in midfield, playing a little one-two, then making a run into the box, before Aaron Ramsey found his fellow midfield partner.
Wilshere took a touch, and then a second to send former Arsenal man Gael Clichy pacing, before applying the most wonderful of finishes – with his right foot – past Hart.
That goal gave Arsenal, with Gooner Lewis Hamilton watching, the impetus, like City, to go forward and find that second goal, and 11 minutes after the equaliser they did just that, as Wilshere, this time, turned provider, heading the ball back into the box, off a clearance from Vincent Kompany, for Sanchez to volley stunningly into the top corner.
It was Arsenal's game to lose/draw now, and they did just that, completely falling asleep from a corner to allow Martin Demichelis to head home unchallenged.
There were plenty of if-only moments after that from both sides, with City's Aleklsandr Kolarov and Edin Dzeko hitting the post, but 2-2 it remained with neither side, especially Arsenal, leaving particularly satisfied.
Other results: Chelsea 4-2 Swansea City; Crystal Palace 0-0 Burnley; Southampton 4-0 Newcastle; West Brom 0-2 Everton; Stoke City 0-1 Leicester City; Sunderland 2-2 Tottenham.