Arsenal beat Manchester City 1-0 to join Tottenham on top of Premier League
Arsenal 1-0 Manchester City: Gabriel Martinelli’s late goal earned the hosts a statement win over the defending Premier League champions
Arsenal beat Manchester City 1-0
Given Arsenal’s poor run of defeats against City and their undeniable emergence as a major challenger, it is inevitable and understandable that they will take huge heart from this victory.They have proven now that they can beat City, perhaps another step on their way towards winning the title again but, of course, they started last season excellently and the problems came much further down the line, so how this truly affects the title picture is too early to say especially because City have a proven record of overhauling difficult positions far, far later in seasons than this.On the day, City were not at their best by any means and two consecutive league defeats for the first time since 2018 suggests that the suspended Rodri really is their most important player.
If he misses any major chunks of the season that could be a big issue for City, and might just be the biggest thing we learned from a fairly drab game that would have finished, deservedly, 0-0 without the aid of a big deflection.Last season’s title decider at the Etihad Stadium hinged on a single individual battle, one that Erling Haaland emphatically won.As City went long into the forward line, Haaland dominated his aerial duels with Rob Holding, his headed flick-ons and lay-offs allowing Kevin De Bruyne to both charge in behind and pick up the ball in pockets of space.This time, with no De Bruyne, and William Saliba restored to the squad, the strategy was largely nullified, with every duel roared by the Emirates crowd.
It is perhaps no surprise that, without both Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka in the starting line-up for the first time in a Premier League game since May 2021, Arsenal had looked blunt in attack for much of the game.The match was following a similar pattern to the City vs Liverpool meetings of 2021-22 when it felt like both teams were scared to overcommit in attack for fear of conceding.But the half-time introduction of Martinelli proved to be decisive as his late goal gave Arsenal a huge psychological victory — and a reminder of just how important his directness is to this team.
It isn’t the first time that Haaland has been on the periphery of a Premier League game his 21 touches is only the 15th-lowest from a game that he has started in his Premier League career. It is, however, only the second time that he has failed to take a shot across his two seasons in England.His afternoon at the Emirates was a particularly frustrating one, as the flickers of his electric potential on the counter-attack were shut down at source. The duel was encapsulated on 37 minutes, as Saliba confidently barged the Norwegian off his stride, just as he was beginning to career into space.In a game full of crunching tackles and athleticism, Arsenal’s centre-back pairing led the way.
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