Manchester City took a huge step towards reclaiming their Premier League crown on Wednesday as they comprehensively beat Arsenal.
A 4-1 home victory over the Gunners at the Etihad means City are just two points behind the London club but have two games in hand. The class between the sides was undeniable on Wednesday, with City in total control as Kevin De Bruyne netted a brace, John Stones scored from a header in the latter stages of the first half and Erling Haaland added another in second-half injury-time.
It took just seven minutes for City to take the lead via De Bruyne. Erling Haaland set the move up and effortlessly nudged aside Rob Holding before controlling John Stones’ long ball downfield and then slipping it into the path of De Bruyne. The Belgian advanced before curling a low shot past Aaron Ramsdale at his near post, one the goalkeeper won’t want to see back.
City were totally dominant in the first period, with Ramsdale kept busy as he kept out a dangerous effort from Bernardo Silva and then two strikes from Haaland, while the latter also fired wide following a rapid breakaway on 36 minutes. Prior to that, Haaland had played in De Bruyne again, with Ben White forced into a superb sliding challenge to block his goal-bound shot.
A second goal felt inevitable and on 41 minutes Silva cut the ball back to Haaland around the six-yard box, only for Ramsdale to deny the Norwegian with his feet. Just before half-time, City grabbed a pivotal second via a Stones header from a deliciously floated De Bruyne free-kick. The goal was originally flagged offside but after a VAR check the decision was correctly overturned.
Arsenal had only created one chance in the first half - a Thomas Partey effort that curled wide - but began the second period with Ederson holding Granit Xhaka’s floated attempt. But it was business as usual thereafter as City regained control.
Haaland missed a fifth big chance of the night when Ramsdale saved from a one-on-one opening, before City grabbed a third on 54 minutes. Again, Haaland teed up De Bruyne from a breakaway chance, before the midfielder curled the ball through the legs of Holding and into the back of the net.
From there, it was a quiet affair as City’s impeccable standards dropped, while Arsenal grew into the game. Bukayo Saka did fire a free-kick over late on and Eddie Nketiah smashed a low, driven cross across the six-yard box.
In the final stages, Holding grabbed a consolation for Arsenal when he fired in after a goalmouth scramble, but there was no hope of a late comeback from the visitors. Haaland got his deserved goal in injury-time when he fastened onto Phil Foden’s flick into the box and fired past Ramsdale.