Manchester City Football Club have seized control of the Premier League title and are now just two points behind leaders Arsenal FC with two games in hand. City have 7 league games remaining, and if they win them all they will finish with 94 points. Arsenal’s maximum point haul after the loss at the Etihad is 90. Here’s a look at the latest from your friends at Sky Blue News.
Fans flocked into the Etihad Stadium for what was heralded as the biggest game of the season as the league’s top two locked horns in the midst of the title run-in.
City entered the game in second place in the table, trailing leaders Arsenal by five points but crucially having played two games fewer than the north Londoners.
The game began following an impressive tifo showing from the home fans, sporting the “I’ll follow you everywhere” slogan from the City faithful’s latest chant.
Pep Guardiola’s side had an early penalty shout waved away as Thomas Partey appeared to take down Kevin De Bruyne in the box.
Minutes later, the net was torn off by furious drive from the Belgian to give the Premier League champions a seventh-minute lead.
The Norwegian’s late goal in the 4-1 victory over Arsenal takes him to 33 in the league and extends his lead in the race for the Golden Boot.
It also sees him surpass Mo Salah’s 38-game record. The Egyptian hit 32 in 2017/18.
Andrew Cole and Alan Shearer currently share the record across the entire Premier League era, scoring 34 in 1993/94 and 1994/95 respectively when the season comprised of 42 matches.
With seven league games remaining, Haaland requires just two more goals to have the record outright.
Our No.9’s form throughout his first campaign in England has been pivotal to the fortunes of Pep Guardiola’s side during the hunt for a fifth title in six seasons and third in a row.
He began the season with 18 goals in his first 13 Premier League appearances, including hat-tricks against Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest and Manchester United.
Since domestic football’s return following the World Cup, Haaland has continued to impress, scoring his fourth Premier League hat-trick against Wolves in January.
He is currently on a run of eight goals in his last eight league appearances.
Manuel Akanji at left-back? Pep Guardiola’s masterstroke against Arsenal turns the title race Man City’s way - Adam Bate - Sky Sports
The coach was keen to point out he does not teach them that chemistry, it is natural between two great players. But the decision to deploy Manuel Akanji at left-back for the first time was not natural. Undoubtedly, it helped City to dominate the match.
The obvious solution to Nathan Ake’s hamstring-induced absence was to deploy Aymeric Laporte in that left-back position. He had played there against Leicester. It would have allowed City to retain the shape that has brought them continuity of late.
Even Guardiola acknowledged that it was a difficult decision to omit Laporte, praising the player’s passing ability. “I have a lot of doubts because the position is for Aymer,” he said in the press conference afterwards. “Aymer is our best player in the build-up by far.”
It is revealing that Guardiola believed the identity of the opposition called for a selection based on something more important than City’s build-up play. He values that higher than most. But he was acutely aware of the threat posed by Arsenal’s two wingers.
Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli play out wide but are central to Mikel Arteta’s plans. Isolating the full-backs in one-on-one situations against his wide players is the primary purpose of their own build-up play. It has worked spectacularly for much of the season.
Manchester City “tear cockneys apart again” in masterclass 4-1 Premier League win - Laura Graves - Man City Square
Arsenal have spent the majority of the season at the top of the Premier League, and they continued to impress both their fans and pundits with their pacey, high energy football – similar to what we have seen from Pep’s City in the past.
However, with that style of football comes an immaturity that we have seen in City during the Champions League later stages. Whilst it is exciting to watch, it can come with a price.
Something that they are now beginning to recognise after dropping 6 points in their 3 games prior to tonight’s clash – with the defeat to the blues tonight, that makes it 9 points in 4 games dropped.
Manchester City went into the game 5 points behind the Gunners with 2 games in hand. In typical City fashion, they have entered the business end of the season in fine form indeed.
The anticipation of the game had been huge and the build up dramatic with claims that the on field battle would be a title decider – however, I am sure we can expect more twists and turns in the final stages.
The current Premier League Champions put on a display that illustrated to the wannabe champions just what it takes to reach the highest levels.
Pep Guardiola admits title is ‘in our hands’ but Man City ‘have to use it’ after their dominant display against Arsenal - Soham Mukherjee - Goal
WHAT HAPPENED? Guardiola’s troops demolished Arsenal courtesy of a brace from Kevin De Bruyne and goals from John Stones and Erling Haalnd, to cut down the gap to two points at the top of the league table with two games in hand.
City have their fortunes firmly in their control before the final stretch of the season and if they manage to win their seven remaining games they will be crowned champions. However, Guardiola believes that the title race is far from over but “prefers” that the situation as it is in “their hands”.
WHAT THEY SAID: “It was an important game, not decisive but important. We played very good. I know the opponent we played. They’re still top, I know it sounds naive what I’m saying but we are still behind. We are still there. Absolutely (I prefer) my position because now it’s in our hands.
“I would love that these two games are six points but you have to win them, but I prefer it because it depends on us. Until today, I prefer the position in the Premier League of Arsenal because if Arsenal had beaten us it’s in their hands. But now it is in our hands,” he told BBC Sport after the match.
Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland proved Man City are just too good for the Premier League - Tyrone Marshall - Manchester Evening News
It’s less than a year since City needed a miraculous comeback on the final day of last season to win their second title in a row. It’s less than a month since they were eight points behind in this title race. They’re still not top even now. But the psychological damage inflicted on Arsenal and the rest of the league with this display is going to be hard to quantify.
Under Mikel Arteta Arsenal have a young team full of promise. They have been excellent this season. Despite a recent wobble, they came to the Etihad confident of restating their credentials. They left with their eyes wide open to the gulf in class between these teams.
Whether it was the precision brilliance of Kevin De Bruyne. The superman qualities of Erling Haaland. The solidity of John Stones and Ruben Dias. The ruthless power of Rodri. All over the pitch City exerted their dominance.
On Tuesday Guardiola had said perfection doesn’t exist in football. He’s probably right. If this had been perfect it would have been 10. Haaland would be closer to 55 goals than 50. But from box to box this is as close as you can get.
After the third goal had gone in to rip the heart out of Arsenal, the City fans turned their back on the pitch to perform the Poznan with the kind of collective unison usually reserved for the players in blue on the pitch. It came during a break in play for treatment. When the action resumed all eyes were back on the pitch. This was unmissable.
And finally... Oooh, Kevin De Bruyne!!
Kevin De Bruyne draws level with Frank Lampard on Premier League all-time assist list - Oliver Thomas - Sports Mole
The Belgian playmaker put in a sensational man-of-the-match display, contributing to three of City’s four goals in a statement victory against a distinctly second-best Gunners side at the Etihad Stadium.
After opening the scoring in the 3-1 reverse-fixture win at the Emirates Stadium in February, De Bruyne repeated the feat just seven minutes into the contest in Manchester, receiving a pass from Erling Braut Haaland before driving forward and slotting a curling finish into the bottom-right corner from outside the area.
De Bruyne then resumed assisting duties when he curled a free kick onto the head of John Stones for City’s second on the stroke of half time; Stones was initially ruled offside but the goal was given following a VAR review.
Nine minutes after the break, De Bruyne doubled his goal tally and put the Citizens three goals ahead, coolly placing a finish through the legs of Rob Holding and beyond Aaron Ramsdale.
Holding pulled one back for the Gunners in the 86th minute, but Haaland restored City’s three-goal cushion with a record-breaking strike deep into added time to wrap up a hugely important victory over the league leaders.
De Bruyne has now recorded seven goals and 16 assists in the Premier League this season, sitting top of the assist charts and five clear of Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka (11) in second place.
The 31-year-old became the fastest-ever player to reach 100 Premier League assists when he set up a goal in City’s 4-1 win at Southampton earlier this month, and back-to-back assists against Leicester City and now Arsenal have since seen him increase his tally in the competition to 102.
In doing so, De Bruyne has drawn level with current Chelsea caretaker boss and former Man City midfielder Frank Lampard in fourth place on the all-time Premier League assist list.
City’s No.17 has also moved just one behind Wayne Rooney in third place on 103 assists, while the Belgian sits nine behind Cesc Fabregas in second place with 11 assists.
De Bruyne is still some way behind Ryan Giggs at the top of the all-time Premier League assist charts, though, with the Welsh winger registering 162 assists during his time at Manchester United.
Kevin De Bruyne moves level with Frank Lampard in fourth place on the all-time Premier League assist list after setting up a goal in Manchester City's 4-1 home win over Arsenal on Wednesday. Full story https://t.co/mABP4jV5PH— Sports Mole (@SportsMole) April 26, 2023
There you have it. The big match is behind us, but City go again at the weekend with a trip to Craven Cottage to face Fulham FC. Stay with Bitter and Blue for all the latest. Sky Blue News returns tomorrow with more headlines.