Manchester City 4, Arsenal 1
Kevin De Bruyne, John Stones, and Erling Haaland scored the goals for Manchester City that put a big dent in Arsenal’s title charge.
Rob Holding scored a late consolation for the Gunners but they could not prevent City from extending their unbeaten run to 17 games with a 49th goal of the season for Erling Haaland – a record 33rd Premier League goal in a 38 game season – as Arsenal created little at the Etihad and lost their 12th Premier League match in a row against City.
Manchester City were out of the blocks fast with a seventh minute goal by Kevin De Bruyne, with Erling Haaland laying the ball off to him in the midfield.
De Bruyne could have doubled that tally but for a tackle by Ben White while Haaland himself could have scored more for a trio of saves by Aaron Ramsdale who also saved from Bernardo Silva in a breathless opening half hour.
And in the second half Arsenal were so spooked by Haaland testing Ramsdale again that they didn’t see De Bruyne running free and the big Norwegian applied another unselfish pass which saw the Belgian finish with aplomb – through the legs of Rob Holding – to notch his second goal of the game.
With the Etihad Stadium bouncing City proceeded to kill the game in the second half, frustrating Arsenal’s attempts to create anything much to threaten Ederson’s goal until Rob Holding managed thrash home a consolation past an unsighted Ederson.
But City had the last word, with Phil Foden’s shot coming off Rob Holding and falling to Haaland in the 95th minute and the Norwegian notched his 49th goal of the season from 14 yards out before Ramsdale could react.
PLAYER RATINGS – Manchester City 4, Arsenal 1
Ederson: 7. Early involvement but kept well protected. Got a good hand on Bukayo Saka’s corner late in the first half. Saved from Granit Xhaka early in the second half. Conceded a late goal to Rob Holding
Kyle Walker: 8. Tracking Gabriel Martinelli and Oleksandr Zinchenko well, early clearance and the odd attacking run too.
Ruben Dias: 7. Was pressed by Martin Odegaard, reacted badly to a poor foul by Ben White by appearing to move his boot towards his ankle from the ground – could have been red carded for that.
Manuel Akanji: 8. Played left back ahead of Aymeric Laporte and took care of Bukayo Saka, looked good carrying the ball going forward in an unfamiliar role.
John Stones: 8. Stayed in a back four and was cool under pressure from Martin Odegaard’s early press – starting the move that ended with Kevin De Bruyne’s opening goal. Grabbed a second goal for City after a VAR check with a firm header at the back post from Kevin De Bruyne’s free kick. Great defensive block to stop Thomas Partay from reaching the ball as the clock wound down.
Rodri: 7. Double pivot with Ilkay Gundogan. Was in the thick of the action.
Bernardo Silva: 8. Ostensibly a right winger pushed up against Oleksandr Zinchenko – he was a pressing machine. Robbed Zinchenko for a first half shot on goal that needed saving by Aaron Ramsdale and gave the Gunners no time at all on the ball.
Kevin De Bruyne: 9. Tried to claim an early penalty after a tangle with Thomas Partay but scored an early goal and could have had a second but for last ditch tackle by Ben White. Great free kick into the area was covered by John Stones – confirmed by VAR after a lengthy offside check. And he was set up again by Erling Haaland for City’s third goal, a superb nutmeg of Rob Holding to beat Aaron Ramsdale.
Ilkay Gundogan: 7. Early injury worry but recovered to start stroking the ball around from midfield.
Jack Grealish: 8. Got back to stop Bukayo Saka from crossing inside the box. Always dangerous going forward. Was furious after he was grabbed and put in a head lock by Granit Xhaka. Attracted fouls like a magnet in the second half as City frustrated Arsenal’s attempts to get the ball.
Erling Haaland: 9. Set up Kevin De Bruyne for first and third goals and was four times denied by Ramsdale and shot wide. Even put a defensive shift to block a deflected Zinchenko shot but was kept on by Pep Guardiola and he came up with a fourth goal for City – his 49th – in added time after losing his hair band.
Riyad Mahrez (on for Ilkay Gündoğan, 71): 6. Allowed Bernardo Silva to drop into midfield to help out.
Julian Alvarez (on for Kevin De Bruyne, 80): no time to mark.
Phil Foden (on for Jack Grealish, 84): no time to mark
GOALS – Manchester City 4, Arsenal 1
Man City 1, Arsenal 0: 7. Kevin De Bruyne surged forward from midfield and curled the ball inside the near post after Erling Haaland held up the ball and laid it off to him in midfield.
Man City 2, Arsenal 0: 45+1. John Stones reacted first to Kevin De Bruyne’s free kick into the box, heading it past Aaron Ramsdale for City’s second goal – confirmed after a nervous VAR check for offside deduced that Rob Holding was playing him onside.
Man City 3, Arsenal 0: 54. Kevin De Bruyne nutmegged Rob Holding after Erling Haaland – who had already had another shot saved by Ramsdale – unselfishly set him up for a massive third goal.
Man City 3, Arsenal 1: 86. Rob Holding thrashed home the loose ball as City failed to clear a corner late in the game.
Man City 4, Arsenal 1: 90+5. Erling Haaland reacted fast to slot home from 14 yards out after Phil Foden’s ball forward was deflected into his path off Rob Holding – and what a way to get the record Premier League goal haul in a single season.
MATCH STATS – Manchester City 4, Arsenal 1
Man City: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Akanji, Stones, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, De Bruyne (Alvarez 80), Gundogan (Mahrez 71), Grealish (Foden 86), Haaland
Man City Subs not used: Ortega, Phillips, Laporte, Gomez,, Foden, Palmer, Lewis
Bookings: Dias 45+4 (foul on Ben White); Grealish 76 (ungentlemanly conduct, Thomas Partay); Rodri 88 (foul on Reiss Neilson)
Goals: De Bruyne 7, 54; Stones 45+1; Haaland 90+5
Arsenal: Ramsdale, White, Holding, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Odegaard (Smith Rowe, 72), Partay, Xhaka (Jorginho 60), Saka (Nelson 81), Martinelli (Trossard 60), Jesus (Nketiah 81)
Arsenal Subs not used: Turner, Tierney, Kiwior, Fabio Vieira
Bookings: White 45+4 (foul on Ruben Dias); Xhaka 60 (unsporting conduct, headlock on Jack Grealish); Partay 76 (ungentlemanly conduct, Jack Grealish).
Referee: Michael Oliver