Manchester City show their class to dismantle title rivals Arsenal

Champions Manchester City produced a stunning performance to seize complete control of the Premier League title race with a devastating 4-1 win over leaders Arsenal.

Kevin De Bruyne struck twice with John Stones and Erling Haaland also on the scoresheet at the Etihad Stadium as City delivered a potentially decisive blow to the Gunners’ hopes of lifting the crown.

Arsenal claimed a late reply through Rob Holding but treble-chasing City had long since asserted their dominance and Haaland wrapped up the contest with his 49th goal of the season in stoppage time.

The result lifted Pep Guardiola’s men to within two points of the Londoners at the top of the table and, with two games in hand, they are now strong favourites to land their fifth title in six years.

Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne starred for City (Martin Rickett/PA)

The stakes were high and, with Guardiola even more animated than usual and raging at minor indiscretions by his players or decisions he did not agree with, it was clear he felt it.

Yet if the team felt any pressure, it did not show as they tore into an insipid Arsenal from the outset.

The Gunners’ season now appears to be unravelling. It had already been a harrowing month with their once healthy advantage eroded by three successive draws and City showed no mercy as they sensed their chance.

John Stones scores
John Stones headed in City’s second goal (Martin Rickett/PA)

Haaland held off Holding as he controlled Stones’ long ball on halfway and then released De Bruyne with a fine touch.

The Belgian raced clear of the defence and finished superbly with a low shot into the bottom corner as he reached the edge of the area.

Arsenal had little answer and did well to prevent further damage until just before the interval.

Rob Holding scores
Rob Holding grabbed a consolation for Arsenal (Martin Rickett/PA)

Haaland also played De Bruyne through for what might have been a carbon copy of the first goal but Ben White blocked.

Thomas Partey shot wide from distance but otherwise Arsenal struggled and they were punished further in first-half stoppage time when Stones headed home from a De Bruyne free-kick.

His effort was initially disallowed for offside but it was awarded following a lengthy VAR check.

Erling Haaland
Erling Haaland got in on the act late on (Martin Rickett/PA)

Haaland was again thwarted by Ramsdale and Bernardo Silva’s follow-up was blocked but it seemed a matter of time before the hosts extended their lead.

It came after De Bruyne seized on a Martin Odegaard mistake and exchanged passes with Haaland before slotting calmly past Ramsdale.

City eased off the gas and Arsenal had a late flurry capped by Holding clipping in a consolation following a corner but Haaland had the final word.

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