Manchester City thumps Arsenal to take control of Premier League title race3 min read
Manchester City took a huge step towards a third consecutive Premier League with a 4-1 win over Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Gunners still lead the table, but the gap is now just two points and City will surge ahead if they win their two games in hand.
Two excellent goals from Kevin De Bruyne either side of a John Stones header in first half stoppage-time made it comfortable for City in their 12th straight league win over Arsenal. Rob Holding did score a thumping consolation but it mattered little, as Erling Haaland made it four in stoppage time.
It was a slightly nervous start from Arsenal, not helped when a poor Aaron Ramsdale parry into the danger area saw Thomas Partey tangle legs with De Bruyne – to the relief of those in red, referee Michael Oliver adjudged De Bruyne to have kicked the Arsenal man and not the other way around.
But City showed just how clinical they can be not long afterwards when a long pass from back to front beat the Arsenal press. Haaland held it up superbly and played in De Bruyne, whose surprising turn of pace and curved finish was worthy of a game of this magnitude.
Bernardo Silva lacked power to potentially double City’s lead inside 20 minutes, while it took the Gunners until midway through the first half to have their first meaningful spell. But soon the Haaland-De Bruyne combo in the centre circle again put the latter in on goal – this time, a last ditch-block tackle from Ben White kept Arsenal in it.
Moments later, it was De Bruyne to Haaland and only a fine save from Ramsdale stopped it. The Norwegian had another shot beaten away by Ramsdale, while another effort flew agonisingly the wrong side of the post as he charged into far too much space from an Arsenal perspective.
By half-time, Arsenal could have been trailing by three or four goals were it not for Ramsdale. He made another save from Haaland before the break and had the presence of mind to hook the ball away from Ilkay Gundogan, who was hunting the rebound.
But Ramsdale was helpless when Stones was part a back-post overload at a deep De Bruyne free-kick, powering a head across goal and into the net. An offside flag initially ruled it out, but VAR confirmed the City defender was being played onside by Ben White.
Arsenal made a brighter start to the second half and a speculative Granit Xhaka shot gave Ederson his first real job of the evening, but it was still a comfortable save. It didn’t take long for City to re-assert their control as Haaland capitalised on a mistake from Gabriel and was again denied by Ramsdale.
That was a warning sign because when Martin Odegaard lost the ball to Haaland in Arsenal’s half, the City striker fed De Bruyne, who gave Ramsdale no chance.
Having gone 3-0 up, City fully took the sting out of the game. They continued to dominate the ball and were toying with Arsenal – it was clear to see the frustrations rising for the visitors.
Probably sensing the game was gone, Mikel Arteta made a number of substitutions to change things up, perhaps with one eye also on what is to come. Those changes actually did make a positive impact and it was the movement of Leandro Trossard in particular that gave Holding the late consolation. By that stage, City had arguably all but shut down into auto pilot.
City still ensured it would be a three-goal winning margin in the end as Haaland swept in at the death to finally get his goal – a 49th of the season in all competitions – pouncing on a deflected pass from substitute Phil Foden after more questionable Arsenal defending.