Manchester City continue their dominance over Arsenal as their victory at the Emirates takes them to the top of the Premier League table on goal difference.
Pep Guardiola’s side made it 11 straight victories over the Gunners in the league as his veteran title winners put a major dent in Mikel Arteta’s title hopes, as they continued their relentless pursuit of a fifth league title in just six years.
Kevin De Buryne’s opener was matched by Bukayo Saka’s penalty that lifted the Emirates crowd, who were in full voice for much of the contest. Goals from Jack Grealish and Erling Haaland deflated the Arsenal faithful and ended the Gunners undefeated record at home this season.
Guardiola admitted that his tactics had not worked in the first half, but a second-half tactical change saw the reigning champions run out victors.
In an interview with Amazon Prime the City boss said:
“The first half they were much better than us, the second we were much, much better.
“We were not playing, we were defending because they were so good.
“In the first half, my tactics, I tried something new and it was horrible!”
City’s title winning experience was telling against Arteta’s youthful side, as the young gunners made a number of costly mistakes that led to Sky Blues’ first and second goals.
Aretea told Amazon Prime after the game:
“We gave them the goals, we had three big chances but didn’t put them away, and that was the difference.
“To beat them we have to be over our level because they are such a team.
“I have more belief because we went head to head with City, I have more belief in my players [that we can win the league].”
Mikel Arteta has more belief in his players, despite their loss to Man City 💪— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) February 15, 2023
The Arsenal boss reacts to the Gunners losing their top spot on the Premier League table 🗣#PLonPrime #ARSMCI pic.twitter.com/vhadDEJ7jt
De Buryne had opened the scoring in the 21st with a delightful chip over Aaron Ramsdale, who had come well off his line to receive the ball from Takherio Tomiyasu, whose careless back pass played the Belgian into plenty of space to strike the ball first time with pin point accuracy.
Just moments earlier Eddie Nktheia had come close to putting the Gunners ahead, meeting a dangerous dagger like cross from Oleksander Zinchenko with a glancing header, that drifted just wide of the goal frame.
But Nkethia made up for his miss in the 39th minute when Ederson clattered through Arsenal’s no.14 in an un-thinking attempt to win the ball. Despite being able to cut the tension with a knife, ever consistent Bakayo Saka was stone cold when taking his penalty, sending Ederson the wrong way as he slotted the ball into the side netting.
Arsenal hearts were broken in the 71st minute when Jack Grealish slotted the ball home after Haaland capitalized on another Arsenal error, this time from Gabriel. A smart pass into İlkay Gündoğan, whose instinctive lay off gave Grealish the whole net to aim at. Tomiyasu’s intervention was not enough to block the shot, instead the defection sent the ball further into the bottom corner of Ramsdales’ net.
Haaland cemented City’s victory in the 81st minute, finishing off yet another clever move from the Citizens, with Gundogan releasing De Buryne into space that allowed him to play the perfect pass into the Norwegian center forward who calmly slotted home for his 26th league goal this season.
The young gunners, whose starting eleven had just Granit Xhaka, Jorginho and Zinchenko in terms of its experienced players, and only the latter two have won Premier League Titles. City on the other hand could boast nine title winners in their starting eleven as well as a manager that has won it all. Much cannot be said the same of Arsenal’s squad nor of their young manager.
Whilst the improvement under Arteta this season has been undeniable, this seems to be a step too far, especially without two key players in Thomas Partey and Gabriel Jesus.
The Citizens were simply too good for their new title rivals in the second half, despite Arsenal being the much better side during the first 45 minutes. Nevertheless City strikes a keen psychological blow on the young pretenders who drop points for the third game in a row. City certainty are not in a crisis.
However there does seem to be a recognition from City’s players that Arsenal are a worthy adversaries in the bid for the Premier League title.
Grealish said in an interview with Amazon Prime after the game:
“If I am being honest I don’t think we actually played that well.
“I think Arsenal played a lot better than us.”
Grealish’s comments will be no consolation for Arsenal and their fans who now look to bounce back against Unai Emery’s Aston Villa at Villa Park.
Meanwhile, City will look to stay top of the league as they travel to newly promoted Nottingham Forrest.