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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Marc Mayo

Man City 4-1 Arsenal: Kevin De Bruyne scores twice to deliver title-race suckerpunch

Manchester City utterly dominated Arsenal to win 4-1 in Wednesday’s Premier League title showdown.

Mikel Arteta had spoken before the game of expecting a tactical surprise from Pep Guardiola, while planning his own. Alas, the Gunners’ tricks failed to appear as they were dazzled by Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne’s link-up play.

The Norwegian’s plot of dropping deep to open up space in behind for his captain to attack worked a treat, carving Arsenal open for a seventh-minute opener as De Bruyne slotted home a superb finish from outside the box.

Arsenal were without an answer at either end, failing to penetrate the hosts’ backline while looking flimsy against counter-attacks.

An important Ben White block denied De Bruyne from a similar breakaway before Haaland wriggled through two challenges and bobbled a shot up for Aaron Ramsdale to save.

The striker looked as deadly as ever despite his new role, again testing Ramsdale - first from a tight angle before firing off Ilkay Gundogan’s cross for an effort that the goalkeeper only parried.

It looked like City would rue their missed opportunities with just a one-goal lead at the break, yet John Stones deftly headed a De Bruyne free-kick into the far corner in stoppage time. Initially ruled out, VAR overturned the offside call.

Little changed after the break as Ramsdale’s leg turned away Haaland’s one-on-one before City had a third on 54 minutes.

Once again, space was in abundance as Haaland slipped De Bruyne through for a right-footed finish across into the opposite corner. The home fans, doing old favourite ‘the Poznan’, could not be blamed for sensing the title was heading their way.

A late reply courtesy of Rob Holding was not enough to spark a miraculous comeback as Haaland made it four in injury time, cutting the Gunners’ lead atop the table to just two points with City holding two games in hand.

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