Man city 4-1 Arsenal Highlights
Kevin De Bruyne scored two and set up the other for John Stones with the irrepressible Erling Haaland, who assisted both of De Bruyne’s goals, finally getting the goal that his performance deserved by adding the fourth in stoppage time.
Rob Holding had scored late on for Arsenal but the gap is down to two points and, crucially, City still have two games in hand. Talk of the treble will only increase now. For Arsenal, their first defeat since February is also their fourth game without a win. Hopes are fading.
Arsenal’s three consecutive draws had swung the momentum back in Manchester City’s favour and the home crowd seemed to sense opportunity from the outset. Holding struggled to cope with Haaland throughout and it was critical to the opening goal.
The striker held off the centre-back and with Thomas Partey failing to track the run of De Bruyne beyond the back line, the Belgian had time to pick out the corner of the net. It looked easy. It was not. Amid the tension, De Bruyne had the coolest head of them all.
With Arsenal’s attacking threat looking more of a rumour than a fact, Guardiola would have felt his side deserved more than a one-goal lead at the break and they duly had their second late in the half. De Bruyne’s free-kick found the head of Stones. It looked offside.
Arteta on postmatch interview
“The analysis is clear, the better team won the game, they were probably at their best, especially in the first half and we were nowhere near the level. When that happens, gap is too big. We got punished and we could have been punished even more.
“We played an exceptional team but we are an exceptional team too and today we were not at the races.”
Asked why that was the case, Arteta said he would prefer to have that conversation with his players but he did expand on his concerns. “They won every single duel, we had them in the corners and then with two passes they are through on our goal,” he added.
“We have to be loyal to what has brought us all this way. But it is time to look in the mirror too. The way we started the game did not help us. We lost first and second balls. That created an uncertainty and we could not grab the game as we wanted.
“We knew we would need our best as a team and individually. You need 11 players doing that. Today we were far from them.”
Even so, Arteta refused to concede defeat in the title race.
“The stats at the start of the season said we would be sixth or seventh. There are still five games to go and I have been in this country a long time and I know how it shifts.
Guardiola on postmatch interview
Guardiola chose to focus on his own team’s performance as the reason for Arsenal’s level dipping. “I do not underestimate Arsenal. I know how good they are,” he said. “I prefer to think they did not have their best level because we were really, really good.
“Congratulations to all the players and the backroom staff. It was not decisive but very important. We played really well from the start to the end. Still, they are top of the league, the reality is that we are two points behind but we have two games in hand.
“I think the next three games will be really important but the most important thing is the destiny is in our hands. If Arsenal win, it is in theirs. If we win, it depends on us.”