Manchester City crush Arsenal, on course for fifth Premier League title

Manchester City’s English defender John Stones (R) celebrates scoring the team´s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on April 26, 2023. AFP

Manchester City asserted their dominance in the Premier League title race after a convincing 4-1 victory over league leaders Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday. 

Kevin De Bruyne scored twice, while Erling Haaland set up two goals to close in on retaining their crown as English champions. 

Despite holding a two-point lead at the top of the table, Arsenal’s challenge to win the league for the first time in 19 years had already derailed, having failed to win in their last four games. Meanwhile, City, with two games in hand, can afford to lose one of their remaining seven matches and still claim a fifth title in six seasons under the leadership of Pep Guardiola.

For the first time this season, Arsenal were outclassed by a City side that was already the dominant force in the English game. Haaland, who joined City in the winter transfer window, has brought a new dimension to the team. The Norwegian set a new record of 33 Premier League goals in a 38-game season, taking his tally in all competitions for the campaign to 49.

Arsenal never recovered from a nightmare start, as De Bruyne scored the opening goal beyond Aaron Ramsdale after just seven minutes. Ben White’s last-ditch block denied De Bruyne a second goal, and Ramsdale kept Arsenal in the game with a hat-trick of saves. However, John Stones headed in De Bruyne’s free-kick in first-half stoppage time, and a VAR review adjudged the England defender was onside.

Haaland set up De Bruyne again on 54 minutes, with the Belgian finding the bottom corner via a nutmeg on Rob Holding. Holding has been the scapegoat for Arsenal’s defensive woes in recent weeks as he has struggled to replace the injured William Saliba. Arsenal managed to get on the scoresheet through the unlikely figure of Holding four minutes from time when the centre-back smashed home.

However, City still look imperious as they close in on not only a third consecutive Premier League title but a treble. They face a meeting with Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals next month and a FA Cup final against local rivals Manchester United to follow on June 3. Haaland provided the final flourish with virtually the last kick of the game when he finally got the better of Ramsdale to move past Mohamed Salah’s previous record of 32 Premier League goals in the 2017/18 season.

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