(Reuters) – Clinical Manchester City knocked Arsenal off their Premier League perch as second-half goals by Jack Grealish and Erling Haaland earned the champions a 3-1 victory in a crunch top-of-the-table clash at The Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.
Arsenal had come from a goal down and looked capable of ending a 10-game losing streak in the league against City but they ultimately came up short as their hopes of a first league title since 2004 suffered a setback. Mikel Arteta’s side, top of the standings since August, hit back strongly after Kevin de Bruyne’s 24th-minute opener and were deservedly level through Bukayo Saka’s penalty.
But they struggled to maintain the intensity after the break and hardly helped themselves with a succession of errors.
City had a penalty overturned by VAR but kept probing and took the lead when Grealish fired in his third league goal of the season in the 72nd minute. Haaland then netted his 26th league goal of the campaign to silence the home crowd and put Pep Guardiola’s side on 51 points, the same as Arsenal but with a superior goal difference.
Arsenal’s first home defeat of the season felt like a pivotal moment in the title race, although with a game in hand they are still very much in contention.
After picking up only one point from their last three games, however, they need to regain re-boot quickly. “If you give three goals away the way we did that gives them the game. It’s a shame because we really had them,” Arteta said.
“The margin for error against them is virtually zero. We did a lot of simple things wrong.”
Guardiola said his side were “soft” in the first half but praised the way they stepped up.
“They were better than us in the first half but we stepped forward in the second and were still in it and in the end the quality of the players made the difference,” he said.
Arteta sprung a surprise by selecting Takehiro Tomiyasu ahead of Ben White at right back while Jorginho came in for the injured Thomas Partey for his first start since arriving from Chelsea in the January transfer window.