30 November 2023 8:50 PM
Manchester City 4-1 Arsenal: Reigning champions take full control in the Premier League title race

Images tinged with sky blue are printed on a wall that rises alongside one of the staircases at the Etihad Stadium. One of them shows Vincent Kompany, hotly pursued by Bernardo Silva, wheeling away after he had scored the critical goal against Leicester City that helped Manchester City win the league in 2019. The legend underneath it reads: Where do you want your statue?

There are pictures of Neil Young and Georgi Kinkladze and Gabriel Jesus, all taken after they had scored decisive goals in a City season. At the top of the staircase, of course, there is a picture of Sergio Aguero scoring the goal that won City’s first league title for 44 years in 2012. ‘Manchester City are still alive here,’ the phrase written above it says.

Now there will be more iconography on the wall, more moments to treasure, more beautiful goals to acclaim, more City heroes to celebrate. There were four home goals to choose from last night but if City’s one-sided victory really was a title decider, it was decided in the seventh minute when Pep Guardiola’s side fashioned a magnificent opening goal that was created and finished by the two poster boys of their increasingly irresistible and lustrous season, Erling Haaland and Kevin de Bruyne.

De Bruyne is a City hero who would grace any era and his strike was just the start of a game that was billed as a shoot-out but turned into an execution by firing squad. Haaland administered the coup de grace with almost the last kick of the game. It was his 49th goal of a quite remarkable individual season. He and De Bruyne have developed an almost telepathic relationship that destroys opposition.

City were imperious. This is a high bar, but even by their standards, this was a performance of breathtaking brilliance. Arsenal, who were eight points clear at the start of the month, have had a wonderful season but they were completely outclassed by the champions here. The average age of Mikel Arteta’s players is 24.4 years and last night, it looked it. It was men against boys. 

Manchester City took a huge step towards defending their Premier League trophy with a dominant 4-1 victory over Arsenal

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Kevin de Bruyne netted a superb solo goal to fire the hosts ahead in the seventh minute and kickstart a great first-half for City

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The Belgian collected the ball inside Arsenal’s half and charged at the defence before firing his strike past Aaron Ramsdale

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Ramsdale initially kept the visitors in the contest, denying Erling Haaland on numerous occasions with several shrewd saves

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Haaland put the icing on the cake after letting his hair down, netting Man City’s fourth with almost the last kick of the match

City still need to win six of their last seven matches to be sure of becoming champions for a third successive season but even though they are still two points behind Arsenal with two games in hand, the manner of their victory here suggested they will sprint to their third title in a row and their fifth in six years. Arsenal looked so overwhelmed that it is hard to see them sustaining their challenge in the five games they have left.

This 4-1 humbling was the Gunners’ 12th successive league defeat to City and will probably condemn them to a 20th year of searching for their first title win since the Invincibles victory of 2003-04. City were the team who looked invincible last night. Arsenal looked like Pep-Lite City’s football was unstoppable. They had too much for Arsenal in every single department. This win took them a giant step closer to winning the Treble.


Man City (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Akanji; Rodri, Gundogan (Mahrez 72′), De Bruyne (Alvarez 87′); Silva, Grealish (Foden 87′), Haaland

Subs not used: Ortega, Laporte, Lewis, Phillips, Gomez, Palmer

Scorers: De Bruyne (x2), Stones, Haaland

Yellow cards: Dias, Grealish, Rodri 

Red cards: None

Arsenal (4-3-3): Ramsdale; White, Holding, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Partey, Xhaka (Jorginho 60′), Odegaard (Smith-Rowe 71′); Saka (Nelson 80′), Martinelli (Trossard 60′), Jesus (Nketiah 81′)

Subs not used: Turner, Kiwior, Tierney, Vieira

Scorers: Holding

Yellow cards: Partey

Red cards: None

Referee: Michael Oliver 

This was barely a contest. It was an evisceration. It was a humiliation. It was a lesson. It was the most formidable statement of intent any team has made in the Premier League this season. 

Arsenal might be the pretenders to City’s crown but City put them back in their box last night and slammed the lid shut. They have now won 13 of their last 14 games in all competitions. The masters of the late-season charge, they appear to have done it again.

Arsenal were fortunate not to concede a penalty inside the first two minutes. City tore into them from the start and when Jack Grealish drilled in a cross from the left, Aaron Ramsdale spilled it at full stretch and it trickled into the path of De Bruyne. 

De Bruyne was about to force the rebound home when Thomas Partey appeared to take his legs out from under him. Referee Michael Oliver waved play on. VAR agreed with him.

It was a brief reprieve for Arsenal. Five minutes later, Stones hoisted a long ball out of defence and Haaland cushioned it on his chest, shielding it brilliantly as Holding tried desperately to dispossess him. 

Haaland laid the ball off to De Bruyne and this time the Belgium playmaker would not be denied. He ran at the retreating Arsenal defence, turned Gabriel inside out and curled his shot beyond Ramsdale’s despairing left hand.

It was a stunning goal but while City’s outfield players and the home fans celebrated wildly, Guardiola rushed over to Ederson and remonstrated with him, imparting instructions with animated urgency. Guardiola’s mind never sleeps.

The atmosphere inside the Etihad was febrile, just as Guardiola wanted it. He did his bit to fan the flames, too, stamping his feet and waving his arms and protesting furiously when the referee penalised Bernardo Silva for a foul on Partey.

Midway through the half, City nearly doubled their lead. Haaland played De Bruyne in again, De Bruyne turned Gabriel inside out again but this time, his shot was blocked by Ben White. 

A couple of minutes later, Haaland went for goal himself, scything through the Arsenal defence, surging into the box before his shot was saved. ‘Stand up for the Champions’ rang around the ground.

City were utterly dominant. Arsenal had no answer. Grealish, De Bruyne and Haaland were tormenting them. They were toying with them. Haaland ran at their defence again ten minutes before half time and moved the ball on to his left foot. When he shot, the stadium waited for the net to bulge. It went just wide, sending Ramsdale’s water bottle spinning and flying instead. 

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John Stones’ bullet header just before the half-time whistle found the back of the net but was initially disallowed for offside

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The England international celebrated jubilantly after VAR overruled the on-field decision, putting Manchester City 2-0 in front

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The City superstar bagged his second goal early in the second half, coolly slotting his effort past Ramsdale between the sticks

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Arsenal defender Rob Holding clawed a goal back in the 86th minute after combining well with substitute Leandro Trossard

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The Norwegian hitman took his remarkable goals tally to 49 for the season across all competitions, sealing City’s 4-1 triumph

City finally added a second on the stroke of the interval when Stones rose at the back post to power home a free kick from De Bruyne. A linesman’s flag seemed to have ruled the goal out for offside but it was checked by VAR and the goal was allowed to stand. Stones had been played onside by White’s boot. The stadium erupted in ecstasy all over again.

Even if it was only a formality, City put the game out of reach eight minutes into the second half. Haaland should have scored a few moments earlier when he went clean through but saw his shot saved by Ramsdale’s legs. It didn’t matter. When Martin Odegaard lost the ball cheaply in his own half, De Bruyne played the ball to Haaland, raced on to the return and threaded his shot through the legs of poor Holding and into the net.

City’s tempo dropped a little after that but Arsenal knew there was no way back. So many of the players who have made them so good to watch this season disappeared last night. They were overrun. They were anonymous. As the game wore on, embarrassment, then frustration, then anger, began to take hold and Partey and White were lucky to stay on the pitch.

Holding swept in a late consolation goal but it did nothing to disguise the fact that, for the visitors, it had been a chastening night. Arsenal’s misery was complete when Haaland finally got the goal he deserved with practically the last kick of the game.

Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-12017801/Manchester-City-4-1-Arsenal-Reigning-champions-control-Premier-League-title-race.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490&rand=1270


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