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Premier League hits and misses: Man City too good for Arsenal | Has Mikel Arteta missed his big title chance?

Plus: Nottingham Forest secured an important win in their relegation battle and Ben Mee shone for Brentford against Chelsea as Frank Lampard's declining reputation took another hit at Stamford Bridge

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Sky Sports' Ben Ransom and Adam Bate discuss Manchester City's pivotal 4-1 win over Arsenal as the pair continue to battle it out at the top of the Premier League table.

Man City show why they are the best

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

Mikel Arteta looked crestfallen afterwards, bereft that the level of his team had appeared to dip in what was the biggest game of the Premier League season. Pep Guardiola was probably closer to the truth in his assessment that they had forced that dip.

Up against it from the outset, Arsenal could not play through Man City's press nor prevent them from passing out. When Ederson looked longer, finding Kevin De Bruyne in space or Erling Haaland up against defenders he could bully, the problems deepened.

The two men combined for three of the four goals, decisive when it mattered, but the difference between the teams extended beyond two players. There was a gulf and if there is a gulf against Arsenal it is hard to imagine City slipping twice in the seven games remaining.

Guardiola was as giddy as he gets afterwards, content that he had got the big decisions right. The combative Manuel Akanji at left-back was a key move. He admitted that Aymeric Laporte was the more natural pick. But the battle with Bukayo Saka was won.

Rodri controlled the midfield, Jack Grealish has been transformed into a tigerish wing warrior, doing his defensive work with diligence and enthusiasm. Arsenal left the door ajar and City have burst through it. When they are this good, they are too good for anyone.
Adam Bate

Will Arsenal regret missed chance?

If Arsenal's title race has been run, it is reductive to say that they lost it here. This fixture was always looming. City came into it having won their last 11 matches at the Etihad Stadium. Arsenal, in losing 1-0 in the FA Cup, were the only side to get within a goal.

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Defeats tend to happen to teams here but it was the trio of draws preceding it that will bring lasting regret. "You are not going to get any closer. You can go 20 years without going this close," former Arsenal favourite Paul Merson had said before kick-off.

Few fancied Arsenal for the top four in August. That is the context of their unexpected title tilt. But it tells only part of the story. They became odds on for the first time in January and remained so for periods of the next three months. It is why there is a sense of loss.

If a mountain climber were to slip on the final ascent of Everest, the optimist would reflect on how close they came, how that error could be corrected. The mind of the pessimist would wonder how much might go wrong in the previous 25,000 feet next time around.

So it is with Arsenal. They may go through all of next season without surrendering a two-goal lead - as they did twice in a week to precipitate this fall. They will surely not falter at home to the bottom club again - as they contrived to do against Southampton.

But if they are to find themselves in this situation again, they will also need to repeat the feats of this season. Unbeaten home and away against every side from fifth to 17th in the Premier League table. Half a dozen matches won inside the final 15 minutes.

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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.

Ultimately, the energy exhausted along the way - physical and mental - may have cost them. In the early part of the campaign, while Guardiola tinkered and tweaked, Arteta established a settled side that built up a rhythm, a seemingly irresistible momentum.

During this run-in, that has switched. City found some continuity. Arsenal had to use their squad. Reiss Nelson delivered spectacularly against Bournemouth. Fabio Vieira could not do so against Southampton. Partnerships were broken. Everyone has suffered.

Arsenal will learn from this and if they do fall short the hope for them will be that they can do what Liverpool did in the 2019/20 season - respond to a near miss by returning even stronger. But right now, the abiding sensation is that beating City just demands too much.

No title winner in the decade prior to Guardiola's arrival at Manchester City managed more than 90 points. In the past five seasons, City averaged almost 92. Arsenal can still make it to 90 by winning their remaining five matches. It is unlikely to be enough.
Adam Bate

Cult hero Mee one of season's best signings

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Highlights from Chelsea's match with Brentford in the Premier League

Ben Mee’s free transfer from Burnley to Brentford was one of the more low-key moves of the summer window, but the Bees may well now look back on the signing as one of the best deals of the season.

After establishing himself as a solid Premier League performer during 10 years at Turf Moor, the 33-year-old hasn’t missed a beat since moving to west London.

Mee has played in all but one of Brentford’s Premier League matches, quickly becoming a key figure in a side that still retains hope of qualifying for Europe.

Thomas Frank celebrates Brentford's fine win
Image: Thomas Frank celebrates Brentford's fine win

The Manchester City youth product is already a cult hero among Bees fans, with his every move greeted by cheers from the away end as his side claimed victory at Chelsea for a second successive season.

Mee made more tackles than any Brentford player at Stamford Bridge and ranks second among all Premier League defenders for interceptions this season, but it’s not just his defensive work that has endeared him to his new team’s supporters.

Mee’s three goals rank highest among all top-flight defenders this campaign, and he recorded Brentford’s highest individual expected goals total against Chelsea.

Approaching his mid-30s, Mee may be in the latter stages of his career, but he’s showing no signs of slowing down - and could even be embarking on a European campaign next season.
Joe Shread

Lampard in danger of damaging managerial reputation

Frank Lampard stands by the touchline with his Chelsea side losing 2-0 at home to Brentford
Image: Frank Lampard stands by the touchline with his Chelsea side losing 2-0 at home to Brentford

Chelsea's season is over. If there was any doubt, it was rubber-stamped on Wednesday night, where Brentford produced a fine away display to secure back-to-back wins at Stamford Bridge.

The defeat was Lampard's fifth successive since returning to the club as interim manager. He has seen his Chelsea side play well for 60 minutes against Real Madrid, but they ultimately left lamenting the same old shortcomings, prompting Didier Drogba to say: "I don't recognise my club anymore."

As he looked up at the The Shed End on Wednesday night, and saw his banner - In Frank We Trust - Then. Now. Forever - the words of his former team-mate Drogba might well have entered Lampard's thoughts.

Brentford have won consecutive away league games against Chelsea
Image: Brentford have won consecutive away league games against Chelsea

This poor run has led to question marks over whether Lampard was wise in jumping at this opportunity to return to management, and whether his reputation within the game as a manager is being further damaged with each passing defeat.

"I don't know, I'm not concerned with what people on the outside think because I don't think they ever understand the conditions of what you're working with," Lampard responded.

The club's all-time record goalscorer would have liked to keep things low key between now and the end of the season, but he will know only too well there is no such thing when it comes to Chelsea.

It may be some time before his beloved club return to the Champions League given how scattergun the first 12 months of the Todd Boehly regime has been. But it may be longer before Lampard is in a top-flight dugout beyond the remaining six games of this miserable campaign.
Ben Grounds

Fortress City Ground gives Forest fighting chance

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Nottingham Forest and Brighton.

Nottingham Forest appeared to be sliding, irreversibly, back to the Championship.

The enthusiasm surrounding their first top-flight season in 23 years had long been replaced with a sense of doom amid a run of 11 games without a victory.

But back on the banks of the River Trent, they stopped the rot at fortress City Ground, the scene of six of their seven victories in the Premier League this season.

Another defeat looked on the cards for Forest when Brighton went in ahead through Facundo Buonanotte's goal after Brennan Johnson had missed an early penalty for Forest.

But a Pascal Gross own goal on the stroke of half-time gave Forest the platform to boost their survival hopes, and second-half strikes form Danilo and Morgan Gibbs-White sealed a priceless first victory since February.

Forest reserve their best performances for the City Ground and this timely return to winning ways in front of their engaged fanbase will only renew belief not only in their ability to avoid the drop, but manager Steve Cooper's suitability to guiding them to safety.
Jack Wilkinson

Paqueta-Rice axis shines despite defeat

Sometime over the past month, a clicking sound has emanated from the London Stadium. It has been the noise of Declan Rice and Lucas Paqueta creating chemistry in the West Ham midfield. It's a partnership that has the potential to rip through and destroy any opposition that gets in their way.

David Moyes has been careful not to overload Paqueta this season as he's taken times to adapt to his new surroundings and a different type of football. Injuries haven't helped either. However, Moyes - with all his experience - knows the game better than most and this slowly, slowly approach to the Brazilian is reaping the rewards at the business end of the season.

He and Rice did not deserve to be on the losing team. Paqueta grabbed his third goal in three games - a sublime effort made through his own determination, skill and finishing ability whilst Rice overwhelmed the Liverpool midfield at times with his presence and ball-winning prowess. He'd be ahead of Fabinho in a Liverpool-West Ham combined XI, that's for sure. If the Hammers can keep this pair fit and swat away any potential vultures in the summer, then these two can lead West Ham into an exciting future.
Lewis Jones

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