Manchester City took the Premier League title race into their own hands with a 4-1 demolition job of leaders Arsenal on Wednesday.
Three straight draws saw Arsenal hand City the initiative before the Gunners’ trip to the Etihad Stadium, and Pep Guardiola’s side showed little mercy in a stunning display of dominance.
Kevin De Bruyne came to the fore, scoring either side of John Stones’ header, which City’s playmaker teed up.
Rob Holding snatched a consolation late on, but Erling Haaland ensured he had the last word with a goal that saw him break the record for goals in a 38-game Premier League season, as City made their point.
City were convinced they should have had a penalty inside three minutes, yet De Bruyne was adjudged to have fouled Thomas Partey after Aaron Ramsdale fumbled Jack Grealish’s cross.
De Bruyne was wheeling away in celebration soon after, though. Having latched onto 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 hunted a second, before the latter drilled wide at the end of a menacing run.
Ramsdale thwarted Haaland again, but Arsenal’s resolve was punctured for a second time on the stroke of the interval – Stones heading home from De Bruyne’s pinpoint free-kick, with the goal awarded after a VAR check on the linesman’s offside call.
Haaland’s battle with Ramsdale continued after the break, and Arsenal’s goalkeeper again came out on top with a superb one-on-one save.
But Haaland turned provider for City’s third in the 54th minute, playing a slick one-two with De Bruyne, whose crisp finish flashed beyond Ramsdale.
Partey lashing out at Grealish’s taunts was as close as Arsenal came to laying a glove on City before Holding curled home with four minutes remaining.
Haaland, though, got his goal with the final kick of the game, as City emphatically took matters into their own hands.
Man City player ratings (4-3-3)
GK: Ederson – 6/10 – Mostly a spectator.
RB: Kyle Walker – 7/10 – Never gave Arsenal a sniff.
CB: John Stones – 8/10 – Provided the raking long ball that made the first goal possible, before scoring the second himself with a bullet header.
CB: Ruben Dias – 6/10 – Solid defensively, but got involved in a fracas with White that got him booked.
LB: Manuel Akanji – 7/10 – Ensured Saka wasn’t a threat.
CM: Rodri – 8/10 – Protected the back four in precisely the way Arsenal didn’t have.
CM: Ilkay Gundogan (c) – 7/10 – Always looking for the ball and led by example.
RM: Bernardo Silva – 6/10 – Might have thought he could have done better with a first half chance.
AM: Kevin De Bruyne – 9/10 – Scored a marvellous breakthrough goal early on and linked up so well with Haaland in open play, taking up a high position close to the striker.
LM: Jack Grealish – 7/10 – No dereliction of defensive duties.
ST: Erling Haaland – 9/10 – Arsenal struggled to even get near him. Had plenty of chances, but also showed he can be more than just a goalscorer by getting involved in good build up play.
SUB: Riyad Mahrez (72′ for Gundogan) – 6/10
SUB: Julian Alvarez (80′ for De Bruyne) – 6/10
SUB: Phil Foden (87′ for Grealish) – N/A
Pep Guardiola – 8/10 – Perfect gameplan overall.
Arsenal player ratings (4-3-3)
GK: Aaron Ramsdale – 8/10 – This would have been utterly embarrassing without him.
RB: Ben White – 4/10 – Made a big first half tackle just to keep it at 1-0, but was later culpable for the second by dropping too deep and playing Stones onside.
CB: Rob Holding – 4/10 – Bullied by Haaland. In his defence, he had so little protection, but he stood off and made it too easy for De Bruyne to make it 3-0. Took his goal well, at least.
CB: Gabriel – 3/10 – Left for dead by De Bruyne, a player not exactly known for pace, when the Belgian put City ahead. Poor all-round.
LB: Oleksandr Zinchenko – 5/10 – Among Arsenal’s better players.
CM: Matin Odegaard (c) – 4/10 – Spent far too much time on the periphery of the game and ended up losing possession in a bad area for City’s third goal. Not able to pick his team up as captain.
CM: Thomas Partey – 5/10 – Too often left on an island as the sole holding midfielder.
CM: Granit Xhaka – 4/10 – His biggest contribution was getting involved in pushing and shoving. Taken off early, perhaps to save him from himself.
RW: Bukayo Saka – 3/10 – Might as well have not been on the pitch.
ST: Gabriel Jesus – 4/10 – Starved of service to do anything worthwhile.
LW: Gabriel Martinelli – 3/10 – Just barely got into double figures for touches of the ball.
SUB: Leandro Trossard (60′ for Martinelli) – 7/10
SUB: Jorginho (60′ for Xhaka) – 6/10
SUB: Emile Smith Rowe (72′ for Odegaard) – 5/10
SUB: Reiss Nelson (80′ for Saka) – 6/10
SUB: Eddie Nketiah (80′ for Jesus) – 6/10
Mikel Arteta – 5/10 – The boss is watching the season crumble in front of his eyes, but at least the substitutes made a little bit of a difference.
Player of the match – Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)
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