Man City go top with 3-1 statement win at Arsenal, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Man City go top with 3-1 statement win at Arsenal

LONDON - Manchester City knocked Arsenal off their Premier League perch as second-half goals by Jack Grealish and Erling Haaland earned the champions a 3-1 victory in a feisty top-of-the-table clash at The Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.

Arsenal had come from a goal down and looked capable of ending a 10-game losing streak in the league against City but they ultimately came up short as their hopes of a first league title since 2004 suffered a setback.

Arsenal hit back strongly after Kevin de Bruyne’s 24th- minute opener and were deservedly level at halftime thanks to a coolly-taken Bukayo Saka penalty.

But they struggled to maintain the intensity after the break and hardly helped themselves with a succession of errors.

City had a penalty overturned by VAR but took the lead when Grealish fired in his third league goal of the season in the 72nd minute.

Haaland, an injury doubt ahead of the game, then netted his 26th league goal of the campaign to silence the home crowd and start the celebrations among the City faithful.

Pep Guardiola’s City have 51 points, the same as Arsenal but with a far superior goal difference.

The win will make City favourites to claim a fifth title in six seasons, but the Spaniard said the race still had a long way to run.

“They have played one game less so I consider they are top of the league,” he said. “There are still many games to play, the Champions League is coming the Europa League is coming. Many, many difficulties for everyone.

“But what is important is the fact that we could have come here a few weeks ago maybe about eight or nine points behind. Losing here it would have been almost over.

“But now because of the fact they dropped points, we came here for the chance to be close, we won the game, we are there.”

City still have to play Arsenal at home at the end of April, which is when Guardiola believes the race will come to the boil.

“This league will be decided for the last eight or 10 games. There are 15 to go. Many games and tiring for the players.”

Arsenal’s first home defeat of the season felt like a massive moment in the title race and could well prove to be so, although with a game in hand they are still very much in contention.

After picking up only one point from their last three games, however, they need to regain their momentum soon.

“It was an incredible battle between two teams and when we had them we gave them the goals. On the other hand, we had three big chances and we did not put them away,” said manager Mikel Arteta, formerly Guardiola’s assistant.

“I have more belief than I had before the game, with the performance and the level the team put in against City. They wanted to play a different game than the one we played and with the crowd we have we can do it,” he added.

“They still have it (belief they can win the title), I can sense it. They feel they can do it.”

Arteta sprung a surprise by dropping right back Ben White in favour of Takehiro Tomiyasu and the experienced Jorginho came in for the injured Thomas Partey for his first start since arriving from Chelsea.

Woeful pass

Arteta’s decision blew up in his face as Japan international Tomiyasu was pressured into a woeful back pass by Grealish and De Bruyne seized on it before dispatching a silky lobbed finish over a stranded Aaron Ramsdale.

Far from knocking the stuffing out of Arsenal, however, the hosts responded by seizing control in midfield as City looked flustered and bizarrely seemed intent on wasting time.

Tomiyasu volleyed a chance over and Saka had another opportunity but delayed his shot too long.

Jack Grealish of Manchester City scores his team’s second goal e EPA-EFE

In the 39th minute, Eddie Nketiah, who earlier had headed a chance wide, was played through and lifted a shot goalwards just before being clattered by City’s keeper Ederson.

Nathan Ake hooked the ball off the line but referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot for Ederson’s foul and Saka tucked his penalty past the Brazilian.

City almost regained the lead in first-half stoppage time when Ruben Dias’ header was flicked on to the crossbar by Ake.

Arsenal lost the plot after the break and had a let-off when City were awarded a penalty after Gabriel pulled back Haaland in the area but a VAR check ruled the Norwegian was offside.

Nketiah was inches away from giving Arsenal the lead when he slid in to try to connect with a low cross while Haaland was denied by Ramsdale after a mistake by former City defender Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Arsenal kept inviting trouble, though, and when Gabriel got caught on the edge of his penalty area, Haaland’s pass reached Grealish who fired past Ramsdale.

This time there was no response from Arsenal and Haaland sealed victory with a typically ruthless finish eight minutes from time. - REUTERS

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