Manchester City took the Premier League title race into their own hands with a 4-1 demolition of leaders Arsenal on Wednesday.
Three straight draws saw Arsenal level with City ahead of the Gunners’ trip to the Etihad Stadium, and Pep Guardiola’s side showed little mercy in a stunning display of dominance.
Kevin De Bruyne took the lead as he scored either side of John Stones’ header, which found the City player.
Rob Holding grabbed a late consolation, but Erling Haaland ensured he had the final say with a goal that saw him break the record for goals in a 38-game Premier League season, as City took their point.
City were adamant they should have had a penalty inside three minutes, but de Bruyne was adjudged to have fouled Thomas Partey after Aaron Ramsdale had knocked down Jack Grealish’s cross.
De Bruyne was spinning out of celebration soon after, however. After the Belgians got their hands on Haaland’s superb touch, the Belgian beat Ramsdale with a sublime finish into the bottom right corner.
White and Ramsdale denied De Bruyne and Haaland respectively as City chased a second, before the latter drilled wide at the end of a threatening run.
Ramsdale blocked Haaland again, but Arsenal’s intent was thwarted for a second time on the stroke of half-time – Stones heading home from De Bruyne’s free-kick, with the goal awarded after a VAR check on the linesman’s call.
Haaland’s battle with Ramsdale continued after the break, and the Arsenal goalkeeper came out again with a brilliant one-on-one save.
But Haaland converted City’s third in the 54th minute, playing a slick one-2 with De Bruyne, whose crisp finish flashed beyond Ramsdale.
Partey mocked Grealish as Arsenal came close to laying down the gloves on City before Holding curled home with four minutes remaining.
Haaland got his goal with the last kick of the game, however, when City took it very much into their own hands.
What does it mean? A city to lose as Guardiola’s winning machine will prove that the gulf is still there
Shot – 14 to eight. By target – nine to two. Expected goals – 2.0 to 0.5.
This was not just another win for City – their 12th straight Premier League victory over Arsenal – it was a statement of intent that could prove the straw that breaks the Gunners’ title challenge.
If it goes that way, this win didn’t really do it for Mikel Arteta’s side. Instead, they will look back on conceding two goals to Liverpool and West Ham, and of course drawing that game 3-3 with lowly Southampton.
The title is to lose City. Arsenal must remain perfect, and I hope their rivals will succeed where they never did under Guardiola.
De Bruyne goes down on the Gunners…again
De Bruyne has scored eight goals against Arsenal in the Premier League, three more than against any other side in the competition.
The 31-year-old is coming up big when it matters most for the reigning champions. He now has 24 assists in all competitions this season, his best tally in a single campaign at the club.
Haaland turns a creator, but still finds his goal
It looked like it wasn’t going to be Haaland’s night before the goal, but right at the death, the super striker scored for the 49th time this season, moving on to 33 league strikes in the process – which saw him the record for the whole. in a season of 38 games in the Premier League.
He did more than just score, of course. Haaland’s play and hold for De Bruyne’s opener was a lot of fun; The pass weight for the third City was perfect.
Haaland has it all, and to go with his goals, only five players have provided more assists in the top flight this season than his seven.
What lies ahead?
Arsenal host Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday next week as they look to bounce back, although the Gunners could be second by the time they kick off, having faced Fulham City two days earlier.