Manchester City took a giant step towards a fifth Premier League (PL) crown in six seasons as a dominant 4-1 victory over title rivals Arsenal saw Pep Guardiola’s side secure a 12th consecutive league triumph over the Gunners.
In one of the division’s most eagerly anticipated fixtures in recent history, both sides knew a victory would see them take control of the title race going into the final weeks of the season. Mikel Arteta’s side, who were eight points clear at the start of the month, came into the contest on the back of three consecutive draws, while defending champions City looked to build on an impressive 16-match unbeaten run across all competitions.
The opening stages were played within a thunderous atmosphere befitting the occasion, and it was the hosts who found an immediate breakthrough within seven minutes. A brilliant piece of hold-up play from Erling Haaland released Kevin De Bruyne, who advanced to the edge of the box, before sweeping a clinical finish beyond Aaron Ramsdale to give City the lead. Having won six consecutive PL home matches by at least a two-goal margin, the Cityzens continued to stamp their authority on proceedings during a one-sided opening half-hour, as De Bruyne and Haaland both came close to doubling the hosts’ advantage.
FULL-TIME | BIG THREE POINTS! 🌟
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 26, 2023
For all City’s dominance, a number of gilt-edged chances continued to go begging, with Haaland twice denied by Ramsdale, while the Norwegian talisman saw another effort fly narrowly wide of the post. Despite their profligacy in front of goal, the hosts’ perseverance was finally rewarded on the stroke of HT, as John Stones ghosted in at the back post to head home from a pinpoint De Bruyne free-kick.
The boys are back! 👊
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 1, 2023
Faced with a daunting two-goal deficit, Arsenal emerged after the restart desperate to gain a foothold in the contest. However, it was City who added a third before the hour mark, as Haaland threaded a neat pass into the path of De Bruyne, who finished with ease into the bottom corner. That effectively knocked the stuffing out of the Gunners, allowing the hosts to cruise through large spells of the second half.
A late fightback of similar ilk to the one they produced against Southampton last week never looked likely, although Rob Holding did slot home a consolation for the Gunners. It was too little, too late for Arsenal though as Haaland finally got in on the act in stoppage time to net his 33rd PL goal of the season – the most by any player in a 38-game season since its inception. Pep Guardiola’s rampant team are now honing in on becoming just the second side to win a third consecutive PL crown after neighbours Manchester United, while also attempting to match their historic treble.
Man of the Match:Erling Haaland – Manchester City