Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish and Erling Haaland all scored to put Manchester City top of the Premier League with a vital 3-1 victory against title rivals Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal went into Wednesday’s top-two clash with a three-point lead, but De Bruyne ruthlessly punished Takehiro Tomiyasu’s opening error after 24 minutes.
Bukayo Saka’s penalty looked to have maintained Arsenal’s advantage at the summit but Grealish struck in the 72nd minute before Haaland added a third to make it seven straight wins for City against the Gunners.
Arsenal have dropped points for the third game in a row, although they still hold a game in hand over City as they look to win their first title since the ‘Invincibles’ 2003-04 campaign.
Eddie Nketiah wasted a golden opportunity when he headed Oleksandr Zinchenko’s accurate cross wide and Arsenal were made to pay moments later, De Bruyne latching on to Tomiyasu’s shock backpass before hitting the net first time.
After Tomiyasu skied a decent chance to atone for his mistake with a volley, the Gunners were awarded a penalty when Nketiah was fouled by Ederson, who avoided a second yellow that had earlier been booked for time-wasting.
Saka rose to coolly stroke into the bottom left corner to restore parity with a header heading into the break, although City hit the post in stoppage time when Rodri’s header deflected off Nathan Ake onto the woodwork.
The visitors were given a major reprieve after the break when a penalty was awarded for Gabriel pulling down Haaland, with the VAR review ruling the City striker was offside before the foul occurred.
But Grealish, fed by Ilkay Gundogan, superbly buried a low effort into the bottom corner to restore City’s advantage before Haaland expertly drilled past Aaron Ramsdale, who De Bruyne parried on eight minutes for his 26th Premier League goal. season and secure what could prove to be a vital triumph.
Arsenal player ratings (4-3-3)
GK – Aaron Ramsdale – 5/10 – He couldn’t do too much about any of the goals.
RB – Takehiro Tomiyasu – 3/10 – Woeful mistake cost Arsenal in the first half.
CB – William Saliba – 4/10 – Struggled to deal with the physicality of Haaland.
CB – Gabriel Magalhaes – 2/10 – He’s been sloppy in recent weeks and that sloppiness permeated into this game too. Lost the ball clumsily in the lead up to City’s second goal.
LB – Oleksandr Zinchenko – 6/10 – All action at both ends.
CM – Martin Odegaard – 5/10 – Much quieter than Arsenal fans were hoping he’d be.
CM – Jorginho – 4/10 – Got swallowed up in the midfield by City.
CM – Granit Xhaka – 5/10 – Too slow making decisions off the ball, but battled when when out of possession.
RW – Bukayo Saka – 6/10 – Confident penalty drew Arsenal level.
ST – Eddie Nketiah – 5/10 – Missed a decent chance in the first half but made amends by winning a penalty for his side.
LW – Gabriel Martinelli – 3/10 – He never really got the better of Walker all night.
SUB – Leandro Trossard – N/A.
SUB – Ben White – N/A.
SUB – Fabio Vieira – N/A.
Man City player ratings (3-2-4-1)
GK – Ederson – 5/10 – He didn’t have a whole lot to do to be honest.
CB – Kyle Walker – 7/10 – Dealt with Martinelli very well throughout.
CB – Ruben Dias – 6/10 – Another confident and composed performance.
CB – Nathan Ake – 6/10 – Solid at the back.
DM – Bernardo Silva – 5/10 – Played in a more defensive role than he’s used. Bit weird from Pep if we’re being honest.
DM – Rodri – 7/10 – Full of energy and vigour in the middle of the park.
RM – Riyad Mahrez – 3/10 – A quiet outing for Mahrez on the right flank.
CM – Kevin De Bruyne – 9/10 – Scored a brilliant goal and then set up the third. The best player in the Premier League and it’s not really up for debate so stop trying to debate it.
CM – Ilkay Gundogan – 8/10 – His wonderful pass into the path of Grealish proved to be a decisive moment in the game.
LM – Jack Grealish – 7/10 – Composed finish to make it 2-1. Subbed off with an injury soon after.
ST – Erling Haaland – 7/10 – Scored a crucial goal in the final 10 minutes. Really showed his quality at times in the second half.
SUB – Manuel Akanji – 6/10 – Shored up City’s defence when he came on.
SUB – Phil Foden – N/A.
SUB – Kalvin Phillips – N/A.