Manchester City seized the momentum in the Premier League title race after Jack Grealish and Erling Haaland scored second-half goals to secure a 3-1 win at Arsenal on Wednesday. (More Football News)
Having trailed Arsenal by as much as eight points just weeks ago, City suddenly find itself atop the table after the defending champions extended their recent dominance over the Gunners and showed they won’t relinquish the title easily.
The win puts City in first place ahead of Arsenal on goal difference, although the Gunners still have a game in hand. More importantly, perhaps, it maintained a psychological edge over its title rival as City has now beaten Arsenal in 11 straight league matches.
“We can all agree that (Arsenal) has been the best team this season, so to come to their place and play against them is not easy,” Haaland said. “But we played an amazing game and we got the three really important points, and we’re in it again.”
In a game that lived up to the billing of the biggest Premier League match of the season so far with moments of end-to-end action, City took the lead when Kevin de Bruyne capitalized on a defensive error in the 24th minute, before Bukayo Saka equalized from the penalty spot in the 42nd.
Arsenal made a bright start but gave away the lead cheaply after City goalkeeper Ederson booted the ball up the field. Right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu tried to pass the ball back to Aaron Ramsdale but only hit it into the path of De Bruyne, who curled a lob over the onrushing goalkeeper and into the empty net.
“I’ve never seen Tomiyasu make that pass back in seven years but he did it today,” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said.
Minutes earlier, Eddie Nketiah had spurned the best chance of the game so far when Oleksandr Zinchenko picked him out in the box with a cross but the striker headed wide.
But Arsenal kept pushing forward and the host’s pressure paid off when it was awarded a penalty for a foul by Ederson on Eddie Nketiah as the striker tried to shoot from a difficult angle. Saka calmly rolled the spot kick into the left corner after sending Ederson the wrong way.
City improved after the break and thought it had a penalty early in the second half when Gabriel clumsily pulled down Haaland in the area, but the decision was overturned for an offside on the Norway striker.
But City still retook the lead after another mistake by Gabriel, who turned the ball over in his own half. The visitors countered quickly and Ilkay Gundogan squared the ball for Grealish, who beat Ramsdale with a low shot that took a deflection off Tomiyasu.
Haaland was fit to start after picking up a knock in the previous game against Aston Villa on Sunday and took his tally to 26 league goals this season when De Bruyne cut the ball back for the striker, who took one touch before slotting a shot into the far corner.
Nketiah sent another header wide late on but that was the closest Arsenal came to pulling a goal back.
“In the first half, they were much better than us. Second half, we were much, much better,” City manager Pep Guardiola said. “At halftime, we said we were not playing, just defending because they were so good, but we should be more active and the second half was excellent.”
Arsenal has now gone three straight league games without a victory — losing two of those — after racking up 16 wins in the first 19 rounds of the season. The Gunners have dropped more points in those three games (8) than they did in the first 19 (7).
Arteta said the defeat was largely self-inflicted.
“It was an incredible battle between two teams and we just gave them the goals, absolutely gave them the goals and against this team, they’re going to destroy you,” Arteta said. “On the other hand, we had three big, big chances and we didn’t put them away. That was the difference.”
The game had originally been scheduled for October but was postponed because of a schedule reshuffling in the wake of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.