Jack Grealish and Erling Haaland ended the match with a 3-1 win for Manchester City vs Arsenal, taking Pep Guardiola’s team to the top of the Premier League table.
Mikel Arteta’s men are only off the top on goal difference and have a game in hand on their rivals but well-worked goals for Grealish and Haaland inside the last 20 minutes suggested a critical change in the title race.
Manchester City led against the run of play in the 24th minute when Takehiro Tomiyasu looked to guide Ederson’s clearance back to Aaron Ramsdale and Kevin De Bruyne stole in to loop a first-time finish into the net — an ideal time for his first goal since October.
Saka leveled three minutes before the break after Ederson was penalized for colliding with Eddie Nketiah when the striker got off a shot that was cleared off the line by Nathan Ake. But again, City put any frustration behind them and moved into the ascendency to claim a hard-earned win that was capped by Haaland’s 26th Premier League goal of the season.
Arsenal vs Man City Goal Summary:
MCI — Kevin De Bruyne — 24th minute.
ARS — Bukayo Saka (penalty) — 42nd minute.
MCI — Jack Grealish (Ilkay Gundogan) — 72nd minute.
MCI — Erling Haaland (Kevin De Bruyne) — 82nd minute.
Arsenal’s first home defeat of the season hit big in the title race with Mikel Arteta’s side now having picked up only one point from their last three games.
“If you give three goals away the way we did that gives them the game. It’s a shame because we really had them,” Arteta said.
“The margin for error against them is virtually zero. We did a lot of simple things wrong.”
Man. City boss Pep Guardiola admitted that his team was “soft” in the first half but praised the way they stepped up.
“They were better than us in the first half but we stepped forward in the second and were still in it and in the end the quality of the players made the difference,” he said.
The Arsenal manager surprised many by dropping right back Ben White in favor of Tomiyasu and the experienced Jorginho came in for the injured Thomas Partey for his first start since arriving from Chelsea.
Arteta’s decision backfired as Japan international Tomiyasu was pressured into a woeful back pass by Grealish and De Bruyne seized on it before dispatching a silky lobbed finish over a stranded Aaron Ramsdale.
Far from knocking the stuffing out of Arsenal, however, the hosts responded by seizing control in midfield as City looked flustered and bizarrely seemed intent on wasting time.
Tomiyasu volleyed a chance over and Saka had another opportunity but delayed his shot too long.
In the 39th minute, Nketiah, who earlier had headed a chance wide, was played through and shot goalwards just before being clattered by City’s keeper Ederson.
Nathan Ake hooked the ball off the line but referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot for Ederson’s foul. Saka tucked his penalty past the Brazilian, who avoided a second yellow card that could have had an even greater impact on the game and the title race.
City almost regained the lead in first-half stoppage time when Ruben Dias’ header was flicked onto the crossbar by Ake.
Arsenal lost momentum after the break and had a let-off when Man. City was awarded a penalty after Gabriel pulled back Haaland in the area but a VAR check ruled the Norwegian was offside.
Nketiah was inches away from giving Arsenal the lead when he slid in to try to connect with a low cross while Haaland was denied by Ramsdale after a mistake by former City defender Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Arsenal kept inviting trouble, though, and when Gabriel got caught on the edge of his penalty area, Haaland’s pass reached Grealish who fired past Ramsdale.
This time there was no response from Arsenal and Haaland sealed victory with a typically ruthless finish eight minutes from time.