LONDON — Martin Demichelis spared Manchester City from a second successive loss by heading in a late equalizer in a 2-2 draw at Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday.
After Sergio Aguero put defending champion City in front in the first half, Arsenal staged a fight-back after the break, inspired by Jack Wilshere. The midfielder clipped an equalizer past goalkeeper Joe Hart before setting up Alexis Sanchez for a volley in the 74th minute at the Emirates Stadium.
"I am satisfied because I think this year will be very difficult for us to defend our title because all the teams want to beat us," City manager Manuel Pellegrini said, before criticizing referee Mark Clattenburg. "Both goals for Arsenal were illegal goals, both goals were clear fouls."
But City leveled thanks to the hosts' poor defending in the 83rd when Demichelis became the fourth player in this season's four league games to score against Arsenal with a header.
"We gave away a cheap goal form a set piece," Wilshere said. "We need to look at that."
Arsenal does remain unbeaten after four league matches, while City, which was beaten by Stoke before the international break, is a further point ahead on seven.
It was a day of once-unthinkable debuts.
Frank Lampard, Chelsea's all-time top goal scorer, made his first City appearance at the start of his loan from partner club New York City FC, while Danny Welbeck, a surprise 16 million-pound ($26-million) signing from Manchester United on transfer deadline day earlier this month, led the attack for Arsenal.
Offloaded because United manager Louis van Gaal didn't rate the striker's finishing, Welbeck couldn't complete a week in which he scored twice for England with a goal for his new club.
It wasn't for lack of opportunities, striking wide early on from Mesut Ozil's cross and hitting the post after lifting the ball over Hart. And, with his last touch before being substituted in the 88th minute, Welbeck missed the target when presented with the chance to win the game.
"In the first half (City) stopped us going out on the break early by systematically fouling," Wenger said. "We had great pace in our game today but (City) stopped that in an intentioned way."
City went in front in the 28th after launching a counterattack. Jesus Navas pounced on the loose ball before sending in a low cross that Aguero met after racing past Mathieu Flamini and Per Mertesacker, slotting it into the net.
The Gunners rediscovered their verve in the second half, equalizing from a sweeping move — started and completed by Wilshere.
Wilshere fed Sanchez, who combined with Ramsey before returning the ball to the England midfielder to clip the ball over Hart at the near post. Pellegrini thought Wilshere should have been penalized for controlling the ball with his hand.
Pellegrini then claimed Welbeck fouled Vincent Kompany as the captain headed the ball in the build-up to Arsenal's second goal. The half-clearance reached Wilshere who headed into the path of Sanchez to scoop the ball past Hart.
"It showed great character to come back from one down, especially against a top team," Wilshere said.
But there was a double setback for Arsenal.
Right back Mathieu Debuchy was carried off after landing awkwardly and clutching his left ankle, which Wenger said later was sprained and "doesn't look good."
Within minutes, Arsenal couldn't defend Aleksandar Kolarov's corner. Demichelis met it with a powerful header that Wojciech Szczesny got a touch to, but the goalkeeper could only palm the ball onto the post and into the net.
"The one frustrating thing for me is we didn't keep the lead," Wenger said.