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Man City 4-1 Arsenal: Kevin De Bruyne scores two as Pep Guardiola’s treble-chasers take charge of title race

Report and free match highlights as Arsenal’s title dream was dealt a huge blow by Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. Kevin De Bruyne scored two with John Stones and Erling Haaland also on target in a 4-1 win that moves City within two points with two games in hand

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal

Magnificent Manchester City dealt a crushing blow to Arsenal’s Premier League dream with a 4-1 win at the Etihad Stadium that puts them in control of the title race.

Kevin De Bruyne scored two and set up the other for John Stones with the irrepressible Erling Haaland, who assisted both of De Bruyne's goals, finally getting the goal that his performance deserved by adding the fourth in stoppage time.

Rob Holding had scored late on for Arsenal but the gap is down to two points and, crucially, City still have two games in hand. Talk of the treble will only increase now. For Arsenal, their first defeat since February is also their fourth game without a win. Hopes are fading.

Player ratings

Man City: Ederson (7), Walker (7), Akanji (7), Dias (7), Stones (8), Rodri (8), De Bruyne (9), Gundogan (7), Silva (8), Haaland (9), Grealish (8).

Subs: Mahrez (6), Alvarez (6), Foden (6).

Arsenal: Ramsdale (6), White (6), Holding (5), Gabriel (5), Zinchenko (5), Partey (4), Xhaka (5), Odegaard (5), Saka (5), Jesus (5), Martinelli (5).

Subs: Trossard (7), Jorginho (6), Smith-Rowe (6), Nelson (6), Nketiah (6).

Player of the match: Kevin De Bruyne.

How Man City overwhelmed Arsenal

Arsenal's three consecutive draws had swung the momentum back in Manchester City's favour and the home crowd seemed to sense opportunity from the outset. Holding struggled to cope with Haaland throughout and it was critical to the opening goal.

The striker held off the centre-back and with Thomas Partey failing to track the run of De Bruyne beyond the back line, the Belgian had time to pick out the corner of the net. It looked easy. It was not. Amid the tension, De Bruyne had the coolest head of them all.

He regularly found the space between Arsenal's pressing midfield and their backtracking defence. Haaland had room to run into, producing one wicked strike of the bouncing ball, but his failure to connect cleanly with two other shots allowed Ramsdale to save.

Team news

Manuel Akanji started for Manchester City instead of Aymeric Laporte in the absence of Nathan Ake due to a hamstring injury. Riyad Mahrez made way despite his FA Cup semi-final hat-trick.

Granit Xhaka recovered from his illness to return in place of Fabio Vieira. Rob Holding partnered Gabriel at centre-back with Ben White staying at right-back. Gabriel Jesus started up front with Leandro Trossard on the bench.

With Arsenal's attacking threat looking more of a rumour than a fact, Guardiola would have felt his side deserved more than a one-goal lead at the break and they duly had their second late in the half. De Bruyne's free-kick found the head of Stones. It looked offside.

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But the foot of Ben White was playing his fellow England international onside. Cue wild scenes of celebration. At that point, Arsenal needed something strange to happen. It almost did when Ruben Dias appeared to kick out at White near the corner flag. Only a booking.

The change of ends brought no turnaround just more of the same with even the reliable Arsenal players rattled. Gabriel was bullied by Haaland only for Ramsdale to save. The striker then picked up a loose pass by Martin Odegaard and fed De Bruyne for his second.

Though Holding's fine finish reduced the deficit to two late in the game, there was little prospect of a comeback, the contest turning into a procession. Those still hoping for a title race will be anxious that the rest of the season does not play out the same way.

FPL Stats: Man City 4-1 Arsenal

Goals De Bruyne (2), Stones, Haaland
Assists Haaland (2), De Bruyne, Foden
Bonus points De Bruyne (3), Haaland (2), Stones (1)

Arteta: Better team won

Arteta was magnanimous in defeat, unable to hide the obvious gulf in quality between the two teams.

"The analysis is clear, the better team won the game, they were probably at their best, especially in the first half and we were nowhere near the level. When that happens, gap is too big. We got punished and we could have been punished even more.

"We played an exceptional team but we are an exceptional team too and today we were not at the races."

Asked why that was the case, Arteta said he would prefer to have that conversation with his players but he did expand on his concerns. "They won every single duel, we had them in the corners and then with two passes they are through on our goal," he added.

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Manchester City head coach Pep Guardiola and Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta reflect on City's 4-1 win in the Premier League

"We have to be loyal to what has brought us all this way. But it is time to look in the mirror too. The way we started the game did not help us. We lost first and second balls. That created an uncertainty and we could not grab the game as we wanted.

"We knew we would need our best as a team and individually. You need 11 players doing that. Today we were far from them."

Even so, Arteta refused to concede defeat in the title race.

"The stats at the start of the season said we would be sixth or seventh. There are still five games to go and I have been in this country a long time and I know how it shifts.

But would five wins be enough now? "I do not know what will be required. First we have to lift the players because it is a difficult one to swallow."

A consolation for the Gunners…

It was a difficult night for Arsenal at the Etihad as their Premier League title hopes were dealt a crushing blow, but they do have a consolation prize.

Nottingham Forest’s victory over Brighton ensured Mikel Arteta’s side have qualified for next season's Champions League.

The Gunners have qualified for the competition for the first time since finishing second to Leicester City in the 2015/16 season.

Guardiola: It is in our hands

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Watch Kevin De Bruyne's two goals for Manchester City as he helped his side close the gap on Arsenal to just two points at the top of the Premier League table

Guardiola chose to focus on his own team's performance as the reason for Arsenal's level dipping. "I do not underestimate Arsenal. I know how good they are," he said. "I prefer to think they did not have their best level because we were really, really good.

"Congratulations to all the players and the backroom staff. It was not decisive but very important. We played really well from the start to the end. Still, they are top of the league, the reality is that we are two points behind but we have two games in hand.

"I think the next three games will be really important but the most important thing is the destiny is in our hands. If Arsenal win, it is in theirs. If we win, it depends on us."

So, he would prefer to be in City's position now? "Absolutely, in our position. I prefer it because it depends on us. Until today I would prefer the position of Arsenal. Now, it is in our hands."

Merse: Title race is over

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Soccer Special pundit Paul Merson says he has not seen Man City play like they did in a 4-1 thrashing of Arsenal, believing they 'went to another level' on Wednesday evening

"It is over. Watching Man City, I cannot see them losing two football matches before the end. They are head and shoulders above everybody.

"Arsenal had to take their chances because they might not get in this position again. There is no way Arsenal finish above Man City next season, you do not realise how close they have come this season. It is nailed on impossible now.

"Arsenal have got to go to Newcastle yet. You would be shocked if they won at Newcastle."

How the game played out

Arsenal's night of woe

  • Manchester City have won seven consecutive Premier League matches for the first time since a 12-match winning run between November 2021 and January 2022.
  • Arsenal are the first side to go four consecutive Premier League games winless while starting the day top for each match since Arsenal themselves in March 2008.
  • Manchester City have now won 12 consecutive Premier League matches against Arsenal, winning by an aggregate score of 33-5.
  • Before this game, the Opta Season Predictor gave Man City a 79% chance of winning the Premier League title, and Arsenal a 21% chance. Following City's 4-1 win, they now have a 92% chance of winning the league, compared to just 8% now for the Gunners.
  • Arsenal are the first side to concede two or more goals in four consecutive top-flight matches in which they started the day top for each match since Manchester United in December 1966.
  • Only Leeds United have conceded more Premier League goals in April than Arsenal (12). They have only conceded more Premier League goals in a single month in December 2018 (14).

Haaland and De Bruyne star

  • Man City's Erling Haaland scored his 33rd Premier League goal of the season, the most any player has scored in a 38-game season in the Premier League.
  • This was the first time Erling Haaland had assisted Kevin De Bruyne for a Premier League goal, assisting twice.
  • Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne has scored eight Premier League goals against Arsenal, three more than he has against any other side.
  • Four of those have come from outside the box, with De Bruyne's total of 27 goals from outside the box the most of any player in the Premier League since his City debut in September 2015.

What's next?

Live Super Sunday

Manchester City are next in action against Fulham on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports Football, kick-off 2pm, while Arsenal host London rivals Chelsea the following Tuesday, with that fixture also broadcast live on Sky Sports, kick-off 8pm.

Live Premier League

Man City's remaining fixtures

April 30: Fulham (A) - Premier League, kick-off 2pm, live on Sky Sports

May 3: West Ham (H) - Premier League, kick-off 8pm, live on Sky Sports

May 6: Leeds United (H) - Premier League, kick-off 3pm, live on Sky Sports

May 9: Real Madrid (A) - Champions League

May 13: Everton (A) - Premier League, kick-off 3pm

May 17: Real Madrid (H) - Champions League

May 21: Chelsea (H) - Premier League, kick-off 4pm

May 24: Brighton (A) - Premier League, kick-off 8pm, live on Sky Sports

May 28: Brentford (A) - Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm

June 3: Manchester United (N) - FA Cup final, kick-off 3pm

Arsenal's remaining fixtures

May 2: Chelsea (H) - Premier League, kick-off 8pm, live on Sky Sports

May 7: Newcastle (A) - Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports

May 13: Brighton (H) - Premier League, kick-off 3pm

May 20: Nottingham Forest (A) - Premier League, kick-off 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports

May 28: Wolves (H) - Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm

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