Manchester City took a giant leap towards the Premier League title with a thumping 4-1 win over Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium. Kevin De Bruyne was the star of the show as he scored a brace to put City in full control of the title race, now just two points behind Arsenal with two games in hand.
If this was meant to be the title decider, the reigning champions wiped out their opposition. It was the performance we all expected from Pep Guardiola’s side, as they dominated Arsenal in every single aspect, bossing proceedings from start to finish. City are so good at turning up for games like this that the script could have been written before the first whistle was even blown.
They were incisive, powerful, remarkable. They played like champions. They probably now will be champions of England once again. And they did it despite Erling Haaland suffering from an off day in front of goal, well until the 93rd minute anyway. Instead of their Norwegian star, it was their midfield conductor who came up with the goods, as De Bruyne found the net twice to take the game away from Arsenal.
It was a midfield performance that showed just why he is regarded as the best in the league. He’s been used sparingly at times during this season but the 31-year-old is going to be crucial as Manchester City hunt down the treble. His two goals, in which Haaland turned provider were wonderful finishes and it summed up his character. A big player for big occasions.
He might have earnt his side a penalty in the first two minutes butThomas Partey was judged to have got his body in front of the Belgian before he attempted to finish. He wouldn’t be denied though and within six minutes, Man City were in front. De Bruyne raced through the centre of the pitch and found a spectacular finish from the edge of the area as Arsenal were caught out with an aggressive press.
Perhaps Aaron Ramsdale could have done better, but this was a classy goal from a classy player, and he threatened to add more to his individual tally. Minutes later he breezed through from midfield once again as Arsenal were caught too high up the pitch but this time Ben White came up with a massive block to keep the visitors in it.
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Arsenal’s press was again high when City broke away but this time Haaland curled his shot just outside the post when the whole stadium thought he was about to score. Next, Ilkay Gundogan wriggled his way down the touchline before cutting it back to Haaland who was denied by Ramsdale who came up with a big save with his feet. Despite Man City’s dominance, they seemingly couldn’t find the next goal.
Then before the break, they did. John Stones headed in De Bruyne’s free-kick before the break and although it was initially ruled out by the offside flag, VAR came to the rescue and City were 2-0 up at half-time. Just before Michael Oliver blew for the break however, Ruben Dias kicked out at Ben White and was perhaps fortunate that the card he was shown was yellow rather than red.
Haaland missed a one on one when through on goal but then he set up De Bruyne for his second as he slipped on through the legs of Rob Holding and into the far corner. That was game over, and perhaps title over. Although Holding himself pulled a goal back for Arsenal late on, it was far too little too late as City took a giant step towards the title. Haaland even got his customary goal with the last kick off the game to make it 4-1, but this was all about KDB. Two goals and an assist for De Bruyne, three vital points for Manchester City.
The Premier League trophy is surely going to be adorned with sky blue ribbons once more.