Manchester City thrashed their title rivals Arsenal by 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium. It was a title-defining victory for City, as it reduced Arsenal’s lead at the top of the table to just 2 points. Pep’s men appear to be heading for their third successive Premier League title, whereas Arsenal’s Premier League title race appears to have come to an end.
Manchester City 4-1 Arsenal – as it happened
Before the start of the game, a close contest was expected between the two sides, but Manchester City showcased their superior strength by completely outclassing the league leaders. Pep’s men have the pedigree to lift the Premier League title and are used to playing in such high-pressure title-deciding games, but Arteta’s men were experiencing it for the first time.
Manchester City were on song from the first whistle of the game and took an early lead. Haaland played in Kevin De Bruyne with a brilliant through ball that completely opened Arsenal’s defence. De Bruyne ran through the heart of Arsenal’s defence before striking from outside the box. His shot wrong-footed Ramsdale who was beaten at his near post in the 7th minute of the game.
City doubled their advantage when John Stones finished off De Bruyne’s sublime free kick with a towering header. The goal was initially ruled offside, but VAR intervened, eventually ruling in favour of the home side. Manchester City continued to pile pressure on their title rivals in the second half. Arteta’s men had no answer to City’s onslaught, as they were starting to crumble under pressure. Club captain, Martin Ødegaard gifted the ball away to Haaland in his own half. The Norwegian made no mistake and played in De Bruyne again, who finished calmly through Holding’s legs to make it 3-0 for City.
The Gunners managed to score a consolation goal in the 86th minute when Holding side-footed Trossard’s pass viciously past the diving Ederson. Just when it seemed that Arsenal’s misery would come to an end, Haaland pounced upon Foden’s pass in the penalty area and made it 4-1 for Man City. By doing so, he surpassed Mohamed Salah’s record of scoring the highest number of goals in a 38-game Premier League season.
What has gone wrong for Arsenal?
About a month ago, Arsenal had an eight-point gap over Manchester City and it seemed like they would cruise to their first Premier League title in over two decades. But the Gunners have only picked up three points out of 12 in their last four Premier League games. This four-match winless streak has turned the Premier League title race on its head. It’s a kind of run that has prompted every football fan to ask the same question, what has gone wrong for Arsenal?
Well, for starters, Arsenal have not got the desired squad depth to lift the title. They have got a young squad that has exceeded all expectations this season, but there’s a huge gap between their squad depth and Manchester City’s squad depth. The Gunners were bound to struggle if any member of the first-team squad spent a lengthy period on the sidelines. And such has been the case lately. Their star defender, William Saliba, has missed Arsenal’s last six Premier League games with a back injury and it is feared he might not feature again this season.
In his absence, the Gunners have really struggled defensively. They have conceded 13 goals in their last six Premier League games and have failed to keep a clean sheet. They had kept 12 clean sheets when Saliba was part of their defence. Although Rob Holding has been doing a decent job in his absence, there seems to be no cohesion in Arsenal’s defence anymore as depicted by the stats.
Another area of concern for Arteta is his side’s lack of experience. The Premier League title race is always an intriguing experience both for the fans and the players, and things can get a lot tougher if one is experiencing it for the first time. Arsenal have got a young squad who have not been involved in a Premier League title race before. Their inexperience was apparent in tomorrow’s game as they failed to step up for one of the most important games of their season.
During the entire match, the Gunners could only muster two shots on target. Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are on a completely different level, but you need to show some intent and resilience if you really want to challenge for the title which can only come with experience.
Is there still a way back for Arsenal in the Premier League title race?
As things stand, Manchester City are the favourites to lift the Premier League title. They are just two points behind the league leaders and have 2 games in hand over them. Pep’s men have been playing outstanding football lately and have shown no signs of slowing down, especially when they have got the extra motivation to complete the treble this season. But at the same time, this is the one thing that can turn in Arsenal’s favour.
Arsenal have only got five Premier Leagues left to play this season. Whereas Manchester City still have seven Premier League games left to play and in between they have got a high-octane UEFA Champions League Semi-final clash with Real Madrid. Although Manchester City have got the resources and the squad depth to cope with such a challenge, Arsenal fans would be hoping that City’s UCL involvement can hamper their Premier League title race.