Arsenal 1-3 Man City: Haaland goal piles pressure on Gunners


By Nick Wright

MANCHESTER City seized the initiative in the Premier League title race with a ruthless 3-1 win over Arsenal to send the defending champions above the Gunners at the top of the table.

In a pulsating encounter at the Emirates Stadium which lived up to its billing, City’s title-winning pedigree eventually told as a goal from Jack Grealish (72) and a 26th of the campaign from Erling Haaland (82) clinched a potentially pivotal victory for Pep Guardiola’s side.

Earlier, Bukayo Saka’s penalty (42), after Ederson was deemed to have fouled Eddie Nketiah, had cancelled out an opening goal from Kevin De Bruyne (24), who lifted a brilliant first-time finish over Aaron Ramsdale following a poor Takehiro Tomiyasu backpass.

Arsenal, without Thomas Partey due to a muscular injury, deserved their leveller having started positively, but their recent slip-ups against Everton and Brentford had opened the door to City and Mikel Arteta’s side were unable to resist their second-half pressure.

The defeat extends Arsenal’s winless run to three games and puts the momentum behind a City side seemingly galvanised by the charges levelled against them by the Premier League. They go top on goal difference, albeit having played a game more.

How City claimed crucial win
Arsenal came into the game feeling a burning sense of injustice following the VAR error that allowed Ivan Toney’s equaliser to stand in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Brentford and it could be felt in the ground, the home fans generating a crackling atmosphere.

Arsenal started strongly, despite the absence of Partey, replaced by full debutant Jorginho, and after surviving a nervy moment when Haaland elected to cross rather than shoot from a Riyad Mahrez cross, the hosts created the first clear chance of the game, Nketiah heading wastefully wide from Oleksandr Zinchenko’s diagonal cross.

It was a let-off for City and within two minutes they ruthlessly capitalised. Tomiyasu, selected ahead of Ben White at right-back, left his backpass short for Ramsdale and De Bruyne nipped in, lifting his finish over the stranded goalkeeper brilliantly.

Tomiyasu had a chance to make amends a few minutes later at the other end, when a deflected cross fell to him in space inside the City box, but his first-time shot flew over the bar.

City attempted to disrupt Arsenal’s rhythm by delaying over goal kicks and throw-ins but the hosts’ response to falling behind was excellent, Saka spurning a good chance from Martin Odegaard’s slide-rule pass when he delayed his shot, allowing Nathan Ake to block.

But Arsenal, and Saka, who was giving makeshift left-back Bernardo Silva a torrid time on the hosts’ right flank, would not have to wait long for their moment.

It seemed they had been denied when Ake hooked Nketiah’s diagonal effort off the line, but referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot, deeming Ederson to have fouled the Arsenal striker as he struck the ball.

After a long delay, Saka showed impressive composure to step up and beat Ederson, who, mercifully for City, avoided a second yellow card having been booked for timewasting earlier.

An explosion of celebration followed the goal but the contest continued toing and froing at a frenetic pace with City inches away from scoring a second shortly before half-time as Rodri’s header bounced off Ake and onto the top of the bar.

It was perhaps a sign of things to come as City began to dominate proceedings after the break. There was a let-off for Arsenal when a penalty, won by Haaland as he tangled with Gabriel Magalhaes, was overturned for offside by VAR.

But City continued to pin the hosts back and, after a couple of narrow escapes, including a fine save from Ramsdale after Haaland had got in behind, Guardiola’s team struck their second.

It came from another Arsenal error as Gabriel ceded possession in his own half, but what followed was brilliantly clinical from City as they rapidly worked the ball out to Grealish, whose low finish took a slight deflection off Tomiyasu on its way into the net.

The game was then sealed by Haaland, who was passed fit to start having suffered an injury scare in City’s 3-1 win over Villa. The Norway striker controlled De Bruyne’s cut-back brilliantly before firing a low finish across Ramsdale and into the far corner for his 26th Premier League goal of the campaign.

Arsenal kept fighting, with Nketiah heading another effort wide, but by that point their fate was sealed, City’s experience and clinical edge proving the difference in a thrilling contest which may change the course of the Premier League title race.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said in his press conference: “It’s exceptionally difficult to play at the level they require you to play to have the chance to win and I think we’ve done it. In many moments, we had them.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was disappointed with goals his side conceded in the 3-1 defeat to Manchester City.

“But if you give three goals away the way we did, and just give them the game, and especially when you don’t put big chances away, then the margin for error with them is almost zero.

“It’s a shame because we really had them.”

On Arsenal’s next steps following the defeat, he added: “Just move on. Realise why we lost the game. And I think we lost it. And we have to move on because the performance was there in many situations.

“For our team to play at the level that we have to reach is very difficult and the boys did exceptionally well. The atmosphere was incredible and the shame is we didn’t get the points.”

“In the end, the games are decided in the boxes. We have given too much away today and we weren’t ruthless enough to convert our chances. That’s what we have to improve.”

Pep Guardiola said in his press conference: “In the first half we were soft, maybe my plan was not good. We allowed them to play but in the second half we made a step forward. We were more aggressive. That allowed us to regain balls high up the pitch where we feel comfortable.

“Haaland helped us a lot by being man-to-man and being aggressive. Playing long balls against Saliba and Gabriel is not easy but he used his body to win the balls. And that’s why we won the game.

Pep Guardiola praised Erling Haaland for the impact he had in Manchester City’s crucial 3-1 victory over title rivals Arsenal.

Speaking to Amazon Prime, he added: “If they win the game in hand they are top of the league. What they have done is incredible and we are still there.

“This league will be decided for the last eight or 10 games. There are 15 to go. It is a lot and the Champions League is coming. Many games and tiring for the players.

“It is important that we are here because six points if we lose and maybe nine points hypothetically, it is not easy. Especially for the way we behave in the second half, with a lot of personality to do it.”

Source: Sky Sport

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