Manchester City cruise past Arsenal to take control of title race
MANCHESTER – Was this the night Manchester City won the 2022-23 Premier League title and put Arsenal in their place?
It sure felt like it. This was the first time in over two years Arsenal have dropped points in four-straight games and they have picked the worst possible time for their title bid to fall apart.
From minute one the Etihad Stadium was purring as the home fans salivated and City totally overwhelmed Arsenal.
Kevin de Bruyne scored either side of half time (Erling Haaland assisted on both) and John Stones added a crucial second before the break, while Rob Holding’s late goal was nothing more than a consolation as Haaland then broke a Premier League record with his stoppage time-goal to make it 4-1.
Arsenal froze and if it wasn’t for Aaron Ramsdale coming out on top in his personal battle with Haaland throughout the game, the scoreline would have been a lot worse for the Gunners.
Man City have now won 15 of their last 16 games against Arsenal in all competitions as Pep Guardiola made it nine wins from 10 against his former assistant coach Mikel Arteta.
With the win Manchester City move on to 73 points, two points behind Premier League leaders Arsenal. Crucially, City have two games in-hand. There is still work to do but this felt like the night City pretty much secured their third-straight Premier League title.
Arsenal totally outclassed as City power on
For most of this season we thought the Premier League title race was a very close race. How wrong we were. Manchester City have beaten Arsenal 7-2 on aggregate across their two games and the 4-1 hammering they dished out at the Etihad could have been a lot more. Arsenal are missing William Saliba in defense but would he have really made a difference? Haaland and De Bruyne overwhelmed Arsenal centrally and even when Arsenal did get the ball to their star youngsters Saka, Martinelli and Odegaard, they looked like deer in the headlights and barely strung a few passes together or made a forward run. City haven’t won the title yet but this performance showed just how far ahead of everyone else they truly are.
Stars of the show; Manchester City vs Arsenal player ratings
Kevin de Bruyne: Scored twice and his midfield runs causes chaos.
Erling Haaland: Two assists and a goal and even though he missed plenty of chances, he terrified Arsenal with his direct runs.
Mikel Arteta reaction: ‘We could’ve been even more punished’
“We were beaten by the very better team. They were exceptional and we were nowhere near their level.”
“We didn’t do anything in the first half and we were punished, and we could’ve been even more punished.”
“The way we were in the first 20, 30 minutes, they were on top of us. At first they were extremely direct, stretching the pitch 60, 70 yards with their goalkeeper. You have to be in position and win the ball. And we did not win the ball.”
“Today is a very difficult night after the way we lost but we have to stand up, look at the bigger picture. The fact that we are toe to toe with this team is incredible. With five games to go anything can happen. I’ve seen a lot of things in 20 years. Tonight was very difficult. We have to look in the mirror and accept that we lost to a very good team.”
Kevin De Bruyne reaction: Difficult to deal with Arsenal
“We played really well. The way that Arsenal press, the opposition is top class. It’s almost impossible to play back especially when it’s a goal kick that’s like a set piece. We had to play longer today and we tried a few things in training, to play off Erling, and we found that a couple of times.”
“It works together. He gave me a few in the beginning of the season but I didn’t have my shooting boots.”
“Normally we play a little bit with two No. 8s, and he wanted a little bit control. Gundogan was more the double-six. It was difficult for Rob Holding and Gabriel to decide what to do with my runs. I was a little bit more free today.”
“What we train most of the time is high-pressing and goal kicks. Everything in between is a little bit more free. The first 45, 60 meters is pretty rigid in the beginning because you have to try to control but once you get in the opposition half it’s more freedom, and try to exploit the spaces you get because everybody does it differently.”
“We try and maintain the consistency is the most important thing. We try to put just the right emotion to compete at the best level. I know people will say it’s done and City will win but we have almost 25 percent to play in the league and Madrid. We have to be ready in another three days and maybe it’s good that we have all these games coming up.”
"I know people will say "Oh now it's done, City will win." but we've got almost 25% to play in the league."— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) April 26, 2023
Kevin De Bruyne joins us pitchside to discuss his tactical role during the match and Manchester City's aspirations for the rest of the season.
📺: @Peacock | #ManCity pic.twitter.com/uwI5THYe7g
Martin Odegaard reaction: Disappointing
“I don’t know why (we played poorly). They were the better team. We didn’t play on our level and they were a lot better than us in many areas of the game. It’s disappointing, I don’t have a good answer.”
“They got the game where they wanted with the early goal and the second one makes it all the more difficult.”
“They can do different things now with Erling up front. They can go more direct to the dangerous areas. They can defend from the back. It’s difficult to defend but we should do better.”
“Everyone is down now of course. We wanted to come here and get something. The last three games before this wasn’t the best for us but we have to stick together. Everything’s possible. Everyone’s really down at the moment but we have to stick together because in football anything can happen.”
Manchester City travel to Fulham on Sunday, April 30. Arsenal host Chelsea on Tuesday, May 2.
How to watch Manchester City vs Arsenal live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 3pm ET Wednesday, April 26TV Channel: PeacockOnline: Stream via Peacock Premium
Manchester City vs Arsenal live analysis! - By Joe Prince-Wright at the Etihad Stadium
FULL TIME: Manchester City 4-1 Arsenal - Dominance from City. The scoreline doesn’t reflect how superior they were. Arsenal were taught a lesson. City now have one hand on the Premier League trophy.
GOALLL! Manchester CIty 4-1 Arsenal - With his hair down, Haaland gets his goal. Finally. He has set a new record for the most goals scored (33) in a 38-game Premier League season.
GOALLL! Manchester City 3-1 Arsenal - Rob Holding curls home after Leandro Trossard found him on the edge of the box.
Fair play to the Arsenal fans. Their team are 3-0 down and have been totally dominated but they are singing loud and proud in the away end.
Trossard and Jorginho are on in the 60th minute for Arsenal. Some would say 60 minutes too late. Both could have easily started this game and Arsenal’s starting lineup look jaded right now.
GOALLL! Manchester City 3-0 Arsenal - Erling Haaland races free once again and he slots in Kevin de Bruyne to finish. Two goals for KDB and two assists for Haaland. They have ripped Arsenal to pieces.
SAVE! Aaron Ramsdale with another big stop to deny Erling Haaland. We can say this most games, but Haaland should have had a hat trick.
We are back underway in the second half and it is more of the same. Man City look very comfortable and Arsenal are being dragged all over the place. Granit Xhaka did have Arsenal’s first shot on target of the night. So there’s that...
HALF TIME: Manchester City 2-0 Arsenal - Kevin de Bruyne’s early goal and a header from John Stones right on half time has City ahead and they should have scored at least two more. De Bruyne and Haaland have both come close on several occasions and Arsenal have been very lucky. The Gunners are lucky they still have a chance of getting a point in the second half.
GOALLL! Manchester City 2-0 Arsenal - John Stones puts City 2-0 up right on half time. He heads home a brilliant free kick from Kevin de Bruyne and after a lengthy VAR check on the original offside call, it is overturned. The Etihad erupts!
SAVE! Aaron Ramsdale denies Erling Haaland. Yet another huge chance goes begging for Man City. How are Arsenal only 1-0 down!?
CHANCE! Erling Haaland should make it 2-0. He bamboozles Gabriel and looks certain to score but he curls his shot wide. Will Man City rue all of these missed chances!?
WIDE! Thomas Partey should hit the target. Arsenal find him unmarked on the edge of the box but one of his trademark curlers dribbles well wide.
SAVE! Ramsdale again denies Haaland as he hammers a volley from a narrow angle towards goal.
SAVE! Aaron Ramsdale denies Erling Haaland after he waltzed his way towards goal. Great stop down low from Ramsdale.
CHANCE! Kevin de Bruyne goes through again after Haaland plays him in but Ben White produces a great block to deny a certain goal. KDB’s runs from midfield aren’t being tracked by Arsenal. Causing a huge problem.
City stroking the ball around beautifully and Arsenal are sitting back and trying to regroup. Not quite damage limitation mode from Arsenal. But they’re sitting a lot deeper than the first 10 minutes.
Chants of “CITY! CITY! CITY” as the home fans are buzzing after that early goal. Arsenal yet to get going.
GOALLL! Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal - Kevin de Bruyne curls home after running onto the ball after a great piece of hold-up play from Erling Haaland. Way too easy. Poor from Arsenal as Partey left KDB and Ramsdale should do better. City ahead after 7 minutes.
Early drama! The ball is spilled in the box and Thomas Partey steps across Kevin de Bruyne as the City playmaker kicks Partey’s leg and a free kick is given to Arsenal. Wow. Huge call by referee Michael Oliver.
KICK OFF: We are underway at the Etihad. What a special night this will be!
What an atmosphere!
Kick off is fast approaching as the final slither of sunlight bathes the last few rows of the stands here at the Etihad. There is a nervous buzz in the air. We have wanted so long and now everybody wants kick off to arrive!
It looks like Akanji is going to line up on the left side of City’s three-man defense with Walker as the right-sided center back. It is a big show of faith in those two against Saka and Martinelli.
There is a tremendous buzz around the Etihad. So many people are here early. And why not? Soak up the atmosphere for the biggest game of the season!
What have the managers been saying?
Speaking to the media ahead of the game, Mikel Arteta doesn’t think this game will decide the title: “We knew we had to go to Etihad, it will be difficult, but will it decide the season? No,” Arteta said. “The belief is there, I look at how the players reacted after Southampton, they defend each other in every moment. We really want it and we are again going to show it tomorrow night. But it has to be perfect because that is what is demanded at this time in the season.”
Pep Guardiola responded in similar fashion: “It is really important, but not decisive because there are many games to play for both sides. We can’t deny how important it is.”
The team news is out for this massive, massive, massive (did I say massive!?) clash as the top two teams in the Premier League collide. Arsenal make one change with Granit Xhaka coming in for Fabio Vieira. As for Man City, Kyle Walker, Manuel Akanji, Ruben Dias and John Stones all start so that kind of looks like a back four...
Hello and welcome to a lovely night in Manchester! Perfect weather for a title decider, wouldn’t you say?
Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup
DOUBT: Nathan Ake (thigh)
Arsenal team news, injuries, lineup
OUT: William Saliba (back), Takehiro Tomiyasu (knee), Mohamed Elneny (knock)
Premier League tiebreakers
“If any clubs finish with the same number of points, their position in the Premier League table is determined by goal difference, then the number of goals scored, then the team who collected the most points in the head-to-head matches, then who scored most away goals in the head-to-head. “
Arsenal, Man City upcoming schedules very different
Premier League leaders Arsenal have been eliminated from all other competitions and have dropped points in three-straight games before visiting Man City.
The Gunners drew 2-2 at Liverpool and West Ham after being 2-0 up in both, while they also rallied late on to draw 3-3 at home against Southampton after being 3-1 down.
Man City’s have had a much different path in recent weeks, easily getting past Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals and then reaching the FA Cup final after demolishing Sheffield United.
Arsenal will have an additional day’s rest leading into the April 26 test.
Arsenal fixture list
Arsenal (75 points through 32 games): Man City (A), Chelsea (H), Newcastle (A), Brighton (H), Nottingham Forest (A), Wolves (H)
Manchester City fixture list
Manchester City (70 points through 30 games): Brighton (A), Arsenal (H), Fulham (A), Leeds (H), Everton (A), Chelsea (H), West Ham (H), Brentford (A)
Arsenal vs Manchester City goal difference
1. Arsenal - 75 points through 32 games, Goal Difference is +43
2. Manchester City - 70 points through 30 games, Goal Difference is +50
Manchester City vs Arsenal history
Those are the latest results in nearly 200 matches between the two dating back to a Nov. 11, 1893 meeting between Woolwich Arsenal and Ardwick.
Arsenal has won 98 times and drawn 45 matches with Man City, who boasts 64 wins in the all-time series. City has won seven-straight and is 14W-1L in their last 15 against the Gunners.
Man City has lost twice to Arsenal in the FA Cup but hasn’t lost to the Gunners in Premier League play since Dec. 2015, when Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud led the way in a 2-1 win.
Arsenal’s last Premier League point at the Etihad came in 2016 and its last win was the previous season.
Manchester City vs Arsenal unbeaten record
Arsenal are unbeaten in 10 Premier League games.
Manchester City are unbeaten in nine Premier League games (winning eight of those nine and six-straight) and are unbeaten in 16 games in all competitions.
What is Manchester City’s game in hand?
The game Manchester City have in-hand over Arsenal is away at Brighton. That game will take place on Wednesday, May 24.
Manchester City home record this season
In the Premier League this season Manchester City have won 13, drawn one and lost one of their 14 home games. They have scored 50 goals and conceded 15. That lone defeat came at home against Brentford on Nov. 12 in the final game before the World Cup break.
Arsenal away record this season
In the Premier League this season Arsenal have won 11, drawn three and lost two of their 16 away games. Their two defeats came at Manchester United on Sep. 4 and at Everton on Feb. 4. They drew at Southampton on Oct. 23, against Liverpool on Apr. 9 and at West Ham on Apr. 16.
Pep Guardiola vs Mikel Arteta record
After leaving Manchester City as Pep Guardiola’s assistant Dec. 20, 2019 to become the Arsenal boss in his first gig as a head coach, Mikel Arteta has faced Guardiola on nine occasions.
Pep Guardiola has 8 wins from those 9 games against Arsenal since Arteta has become boss.
The only game Arteta has won against Pep Guardiola and Man City was the FA Cup semifinal on July 18, 2020, as they won 2-0 thanks to goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Arsenal went on to win the FA Cup that season.