Manchester City’s champion quality showed as they came through a tough examination against Arsenal 3-1 winners to move above the Gunners and back to the top of the Premier League table.
The two sides leading the Premier League clashed at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening in one of the most highly anticipated games of the Premier League season so far, with a perch atop English football the reward for the victor.
The game began in suitably tense fashion, with both sides feeling the other out and trying to prise an opening. The first chance of note came Arsenal’s way, with Eddie Nketiah heading wide from a Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Moments later, however, it was Kevin De Bruyne who gave Manchester City the lead, with the Belgian latching onto a poor backpass from Takehiro Tomiyasu to curl beyond Aaron Ramsdale, who was left in no-man’s land.
The Gunners grew back into the tie, however, and after Bukayo Saka wasted another golden opportunity, goalkeeper Ederson (who had been booked minutes before for timewasting) fouled Eddie Nketiah to hand the Gunners a penalty, which Bukayo Saka duly converted to hand the Gunners parity heading into the half time break.
Arsenal were let off the hook early in the second half, when Gabriel hauled down Erling Haaland inside the area, only for the decision to award the penalty overturned thanks to Erling Haaland straying marginally offside.
With Bernardo Silva finally freed from the shackles of left-back, City looked more threatening in attack as the game threatened to boil over from a tactical battle to a case of who could keep their heads, with Aaron Ramsdale saving well from Erling Haaland and Jorginho clearing off the line for the hosts.
The goal was coming, however, and came courtesy of another defensive mistake, with Gabriel giving the ball away and Jack Grealish firing home courtesy of a deflection from Tomiyasu, leaving City heading to the top of the Premier League.
As Arsenal pushed, the sucker punch came, with Kevin de Bruyne finding Erling Haaland with ten minutes to go to grab the third goal, and seal all three points for the reigning champions.
Though the scoreline suggests that the Gunners were beaten, they will be left ruing their own mistakes, with sloppiness playing a part in all three of the Manchester City goals, something that will see them punished at the very highest level.
The title remains in their hands, with a game in hand over the Cityzens, but the defeat feels like a seismic one in the wider context of the Premier League title race.
- GK: Aaron Ramsdale (5) - A couple of good saves were paired with a few shaky moments, but he could do very little about any of the goals.
- RB: Takehiro Tomiyasu (5) - Made a horrendous error to hand Manchester City the lead in the first half, but recovered well and kept Jack Grealish quiet for the most part. Could do nothing about the deflection that off him for the City winner.
- CB: William Saliba (6) - Showed more composure than his centre-back partner, especially in the second half.
- CB: Gabriel (5) - Survived a penalty shout when Haaland was ruled offside after a strong first half, but it was his careless pass that
- LB: Oleksandr Zinchenko (7) - Arsenal’s most progressive defender, the Ukrainian was excellent against his former side.
- DM: Jorginho (8) - Despite all the concerns ahead of the game, the Italian was excellent in the first half and tidy in the second.
- CM: Granit Xhaka (5) - Had one of his worst games of the season and was guilty of lacking composure in the final third on several occasions.
- CM: Martin Odegaard (6) - Good in the first half but faded in the second and was tidy without being clinical.
- RW: Bukayo Saka (7) - Will be haunting Bernardo Silva’s nightmares for weeks to come and showed nerves of steel to convert a pressure penalty in the first half.
- ST: Eddie Nketiah (5) - Headed wide when well placed in the first half and struggled to make an impact despite being tidy on the ball.
- LW: Gabriel Martinelli (5) - Struggled to really make an impact down the Arsenal left.
- Leandro Trossard (6) - Was bright when he came on but coudln’t pierce the Manchester City defence anywhere near regularly enough.
- Ben White (5) - Came on but made no impact.
- Fabio Vieira (5) - Came on but made no impact.
- GK: Ederson (5) - Somewhat lucky to stay on the pitch, albeit for what would have been two harsh yellows after a clumsy challenge on Eddie Nketiah. Had very little to do otherwise.
- RB: Kyle Walker (6) - Did well to keep Martinelli quiet on the rare occasion that the ball was sent down the left.
- CB: Ruben Dias (6) - Solid defensively and helped keep Eddie Nketiah quiet for the most part.
- CB: Nathan Ake (7) - Looked as though he may struggle with Bernardo Silva alongside him, but had another excellent game in the heart of midfield.
- LB: Bernardo Silva (4) - Was tasked with playing left-back and marking Bukayo Saka and it went about as well as you’d expect.
- DM: Rodri (8) - Got through plenty of dirty work in central midfield and helped his side turn the tide in the second half.
- CM: Kevin De Bruyne (8) - Didn’t have his best game but still came away from north London with a goal and an assist. Took the first brilliantly and produced an expert pass to seal the win.
- CM: Ilkay Gundogan (6) - Battled well in midfield and helped keep Martin Odegaard and Granit Xhaka quiet.
- RW: Riyad Mahrez (4) -Couldn’t really get into the game from the right-flank and was taken off after an hour.
- ST: Erling Haaland (6) - Often looked to be ploughing a lone furrow and was getting increasingly frustrated, but found the back of the net with his first shot of the game to put the tie beyond doubt.
- LW: Jack Grealish (5) - In the right place at the right time to hand his side the lead in the second half, but didn’t cause too many problems otherwise.
- Manuel Akanji (6) - Helped sure up City defensively, which ultimately won them the game.
- Phil Foden (5) - Came on for Grealish and had little impact.
- Kalvin Phillips (N/A) - Came on for the final five minutes to see out the win.