Matchweek 25 of the English Premier League saw a fascinating clash between Arsenal and high flying league leaders Manchester City. Manchester City won with a slender 1-0 away win at the Emirates. The Gunners are currently placed 11th in the standings and are struggling to win games. Top 4 seems quite difficult now with 4th placed West Ham 11 points ahead of them.
Man City aimed to extend their lead at the top. After this game, they’re 10 points clear of Man United and Leicester City, both tied at 49 points. The Citizens looked quite dominant throughout the match from building attacks to keeping the Arsenal strikers at bay. They maintained a healthy possession and played short passes all through the game.
Manchester City (4-3-3)
Pep Guardiola made 5 changes from the side which beat Everton 3-1 in the last game. Aymeric Laporte and Kyle Walker sat out. John Stones and Oleksandr Zinchenko were in defence. Fernandinho started the match in place of Rodri. Additionally, an in form Ilkay Gundogan came in place of Phil Foden. Additionally, Jesus sat on the bench with Aguero. Kevin De Bruyne started after a long injury lay-off. Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez continued upfront with Bernardo Silva partnering them. Ederson made his 24th start in the Season and we saw Dias starting in Defence. Gabriel Jesus came on later.
Arsenal Boss Mikel Arteta made 5 changes from the lineup that defeated Leeds United 4-2. Everyone was replaced barring Bellerin in defence. Rob Holding and Pablo Mari additionally succeeded The central defensive Brazilian duo of David Luiz and Gabriel. Kieran Tierney, coming after a long time due to injury, came in for Portuguese Cedric Soares. Mohammed Elneny benched Dani Ceballos. Emile Smith- Rowe was also substituted by Frenchman Nicolas Pepé.Aubamayeng, Saka and Ødegaard continued in the attacking half. Xhaka was in the central position. Emile Smith- Rowe, Lacazette and Dani Ceballos came on later. They came in place of Pepe, Ødegaard and Elneny respectively. David Luiz later replaced Holding as a concussion sub after he was hit by Cancelo’s knee on the head.
The First half at the Emirates Stadium witnessed some scintillating football from the Citizens. Right from when the first half started, City players put on some high quality pressing football. This resulted in a goal in the 2nd minute of the Match. Birthday boy Mahrez continued his run from the right side and played a delightful cross on to Raheem Sterling.
Sterling in the centre of the box slotted it home with a towering header. Neither Bellerin nor Holding did offer slight resistance to him which gave him the chance to give a free header. After the goal, they then continued with their pressing football all through the first quarter. On the right side, there was a big gap as Tierney was constantly overlapping.
Arsenal hardly got any possession. When in possession, the Citizens had a possession of 2-3-5 which maintained a constant pressure in the Arsenal box. Again, while they lost possession, they quickly transformed into a 5-3-2 formation.
This hence kept Arsenal out of the match for the first 20-30 minutes. Later, Arsenal was able to take control of the match with a few shots on goal but the City defence dealt with them effectively. Saka’s 2 shots were blocked. Kieran Tierney later continued some lively runs through the left, giving some great crosses in the City box. Saka and Tierney were the lone pair of positives for Arsenal in the opening half.
The starting of the second half saw some quality of pressing football from City though with a lower killer instinct. It was therefore evident from Arsenal’s play that they lacked the deadly partnership of Ceballos and Saka. The creativity of Gunner’s midfield was sub-par and it gave Arsenal few attacking instances upfront.
Dias and Stones then hardly gave Aubamayeng a chance to become a threat in the City box. Arsenal was attacking constantly. They quickly lost possession of the ball after some excellent interceptions by City defenders. Moreover, City pounced quickly on the second ball and was quick on the counter-attack.
They later had some excellent chances inside the 18-yard box. The main problem of the Arsenal defence was their inability to keep City at bay. Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Gundogan and De Bruyne did not have any fixed position. They were like floating predators. The Gunners defence found it quite difficult to mark them. They were lucky when Cancelo and Gundogan missed easy chances later. Arsenal did press later on but was unable to find gaps in the solid City Defence.
Guardiola skillfully used his players at different positions. This made it difficult for Arteta to change his formation. The result did not reflect the true approach of the city attackers. They unleashed numerous ferocious attacks onto the Arsenal Box. City pulled through with just one goal. This result means City now have beaten 3 of the big six PL teams on the trot(Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal). Manchester City is now hence a clear favourite to win the league this season.
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