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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
David McDonnell

Man City struck a decisive blow in Arsenal title decider with perfectly timed reminder

Manchester City struck a psychological blow in their title battle with Arsenal last night - before a ball had even been kicked.

By the side of the pitch, where Mikel Arteta's side were warming up, sat the Premier League trophy, adorned with sky blue ribbons.

It was a tangible reminder to the Gunners that the trophy remains the property of Pep Guardiola's side – who then showed they are in no mood to relinquish it. City may have won four of the last five league titles, but Guardiola recognised the role of the crowd last night, hence his rallying in the lead-up to the game.

“Wednesday is a final against a team that has been the best team in England so far and is five points ahead of us," Guardiola said.

“Hopefully that day all of Manchester will be Blue and can come to support us because we need that incredible noise from the first minute until the end because I know against which opponent we are going to play.

“I know even though they have drawn the last three games, the way they play in big, big parts of the game, it is almost difficult to stop. You have to read exactly what to do.

“It’s a massive, important game for us. We know winning will give us a step to putting it completely in our hands.

“The Premier League is 11 months working, working, working. And we want to take this opportunity. We cannot do it alone. Hopefully all the Etihad will be full three hours before the game.”

Guardiola was wildly optimistic with that last request, but City fans, criticised by their boss in the past for their perceived apathy, were not about to let him down.

A giant banner proclaiming 'I'll Follow You Everywhere' was unfurled, with another, 'Maine Road, Moss Side', a nod to City's roots and former home.

The first cries of 'Campeones' came after just two minutes, and if any City fans needed firing up further, it came with Kevin De Bruyne's sumptuous opener, which sent the fans into delirium.

That set the tone for a dominant display from the champions. After the obligatory lengthy VAR check on half-time, City fans were able to celebrate the second goal from John Stones, a blow from which Arsenal would not recover.

When De Bruyne made it 3-0 before the hour, City's fans did the Poznan celebration, then broke into another rendition of 'Campeones', knowing a fifth title in six years is now within their grasp.

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