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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Matthew Cooper

Man City land huge title race blow with emphatic 4-1 win over Arsenal - 5 talking points

Manchester City handed a devastating blow to Arsenal's hopes of winning a first Premier League title in 19 years as they dismantled the North-London side 4-1 this evening.

Goals from Kevin de Bruyne, John Stones and Erling Haaland earned City a vital victory as they cut Arsenal's lead at the top of the table to just two points, with Pep Guardiola's side still having two games in hand. City took the lead after just seven minutes when Haaland played through De Bruyne who slotted past Aaron Ramsdale.

After receiving the ball from Haaland, De Bruyne drove forward and fired past the Arsenal 'keeper from the edge of the box. Stones then headed home a De Bruyne free-kick on the edge of half-time, with a lengthy VAR check ruling him onside.

De Bruyne then rounded out a brilliant individual display and an emphatic victory for City by burying goal number three after once again being set up by Haaland. Rob Holding did get one back for Arsenal in the 86th minute, but it was nothing more than a consolation as Haaland fired home his 49th goal of the season in injury time. Here are all the talking points...

Pep Guardiola is hoping to guide City to a treble this season (Getty Images)

1. City's juggernaut rolls on

Although Arsenal have been excellent for most of the season, City look to have peaked at the perfect time and it appears their class and experience will ultimately prove the difference in this year's title race.

Guardiola's side have not lost since February and have hit top gear at the exact time Arsenal have faltered. And City's juggernaut are now eyeing a treble having moved into pole position to win the league.

They are chasing a first ever Champions League win and face a blockbuster semi-final clash against Real Madrid, while they are also set to take on local rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup final. It would be some feat if they lifted all three trophies, but it would take a brave soul to bet against City at the moment.

Kevin de Bruyne and Erling Haaland celebrate Manchester City's opening goal against Arsenal (OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

2. Haaland and De Bruyne's "brilliant" partnership

With City hitting top form at the perfect time in this title race, both Haaland and De Bruyne have been so important to their run of form. Haaland has scored 16 goals in his last nine matches, while De Bruyne has now made eight goal contributions in City's last four league games.

And the pair were a constant threat throughout the game, linking up excellently for the first and third goals as they switched roles with Haaland becoming the provider to set up De Bruyne. "It's textbook centre-forward play from Erling Haaland to find Kevin De Bruyne and he shows great pace before stroking it into the corner," former striker Dion Dublin said on BBC Radio 5 Live.

"Haaland and De Bruyne are no more than 10 yards away from each other all the time and they just play as a pair. It is brilliant to watch."

John Stones celebrates his goal against Arsenal (Getty Images)

3. Stones continues to star

It was not that long ago that Guardiola appeared open to letting Stones leave the club, but the 28-year-old has been crucial for City this season. Stones has been playing a more advanced role in City's defence and was once again excellent against Arsenal.

He helped City nullify Arsenal until Holding's late strike, while also popping up with a key goal and has thrived in his new role. "He's been unique this season, he's made that role into his own," former City defender Joleon Lescott told BT Sport last week.

"You've seen other teams adopt a similar style, but the way he's performing with the ball at his feet, his recognition of patterns, he's picking up spaces, identifying where the next pass is. There are not many players with that capability and he's obviously full of confidence."

William Saliba has been a huge miss for Arsenal (Getty Images)

4. Arsenal missing Saliba

It is no coincidence that since William Saliba got injured against Sporting Lisbon back in March, Arsenal have dropped six points in the league and failed to keep a single clean sheet.

The Frenchman had been excellent for the Gunners alongside Gabriel Magalhaes and, while his absence is not the sole reason for Arsenal's recent struggles, it is clear they are a much less effective defensive unit without him. Replacement Holding is a more limited defender than Saliba and struggled against City's attack for much of the game, while Gabriel has not looked the same without his regular partner.

It was a point former Wales defender Ashley Williams made on BBC Match of the Day last week, saying: "If you look at the stats here, the win percentage with and without him and the points per game and big chances conceded per game - they are obviously a lot better with him in the team. They had such a settled back line before, they just do not look the same team when he is not on the pitch."

Arsenal's struggles against Manchester City continued (OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

5. Gunners' woes vs City continue

Despite making excellent progress under Arteta, Arsenal remain unable to cope with City having now lost their last 12 Premier League games against them. It is the Gunners' longest losing streak against a single time and they have lost all seven of their visits to the Etihad while Guardiola has been in charge.

In that time, the aggregate score has been 20-3 with Arsenal failing to score in eight of their last 12 meetings. Arteta, who was of course Guardiola's assistant for many years, has failed to beat his mentor in seven attempts in the league.

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