Jack of all trades takes City to summit
A classy second-half display saw Manchester City not only become the first team in history to win seven successive away games against Arsenal, but also leapfrog the Gunners at the top of the Premier League (PL), as they ran out 3-1 victors in a pulsating clash.
Cagey, would probably be the best way to describe the opening stages at the Emirates Stadium, with both Arsenal and Manchester City playing their cards close to their chest. It took 22 minutes for the first meaningful goalmouth action to arrive, and it fell the way of the unmarked Eddie Nketiah, who directed his header narrowly wide. Arsenal found out the hard way just moments later how City make their opponents rue their missed chances. Mikel Arteta’s side were the architects of their downfall too, with Takehiro Tomiyasu’s miscued backpass sending Kevin de Bruyne racing clear on goal and the Belgian’s sumptuous lofted effort fired City into an early lead.
Tomiyasu spurned a glorious chance to clear his name moments later, thundering a volley over from 12-yards, but after falling behind, Arsenal’s response was impeccable. Their incessant pressure eventually bore fruit before the break, and after succumbing to some refereeing controversy at the weekend, the Gunners were the beneficiaries of a penalty as Ederson wiped out Nketiah to allow Bukayo Saka to stroke home a leveller from the spot.
A topsy-turvy first half so nearly had one more twist, but Rodri’s downward header bounced up off Nathan Aké and onto the crossbar to leave this potential title decider on a knife edge ahead of the second half. Having had a penalty given against them, City thought Anthony Taylor had levelled the penalty scores in the second period when Gabriel Magalhães hauled down Erling Haaland in the area, but to the relief of Arteta, a VAR offside call, this time a correct one, went in his side’s favour.
The game was more reminiscent of basketball at times, and it was Jack Grealish who found a three-pointer to ensure the spoils headed north. It was a rather unfortunate evening for Tomiyasu, who deflected Grealish’s tame effort beyond Aaron Ramsdale, leaving his side with a mountain to climb with a little under 20 minutes left on the clock.
It proved to be a hurdle Arsenal couldn’t overcome, as City wrapped up their 23rd-straight PL victory on a Wednesday with a customary Haaland strike, though perhaps none of those 22 prior Wednesday wins have been as pivotal as this one. The title race certainly isn’t over yet, and Arsenal will know that, but this defeat is certainly a crushing blow to their chances.