Arsenal, Man City stalemate hands Liverpool Premier League lead

Arsenal’s Brazilian striker #09 Gabriel Jesus (L) fights for the ball with Manchester City’s Belgian midfielder #17 Kevin De Bruyne during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on March 31, 2024. AFP

Manchester City failed to break down a determined Arsenal defence as a highly-anticipated clash at the top of the Premier League failed to live up to the hype in a 0-0 draw at the Etihad on Sunday.

Liverpool were the big winners of the day in the title race as they beat Brighton 2-1 to go top, two points ahead of Arsenal and three clear of City with nine games to play.

A share of the spoils preserves City’s unbeaten home run stretching back to November 2022 and ends Arsenal’s eight-match winning run in the Premier League.

But it is the Gunners who will be happier with a point as they prevented Pep Guardiola’s men from scoring at the Etihad for the first time in two years.

“Defensively we were outstanding,” said Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

“The next step is with the ball to have more composure to attack better.

“They are the best team in the world by far, best manager by far, and we have to catch up. That’s the challenge for us.”

City had 72 percent possession but struggled to make anything of it against a defence that has conceded the fewest number of goals in the Premier League this season.

“We didn’t create much but it was almost actions,” said City manager Guardiola. “It’s not easy to break them (down) but I recognise the intention was there.”

Guardiola said Liverpool were now “favourites” to win the title in Jurgen Klopp’s final season.

City are still yet to win in six matches this season against other sides in the Premier League top five and must end that run when fourth-placed Aston Villa visit on Wednesday to keep their title challenge alive.

“Always who is first is favourite, second favourite is Arsenal,” added Guardiola.

“It is not in our hands. All we can do is win against Aston Villa.”

Arsenal still must ‘improve’

Arsenal had also been in free-scoring form, netting 33 times during their eight-match winning streak.

However, the visitors had lost on their last eight trips to the Etihad, including a 4-1 thrashing as the title race swung decisively in City’s favour last season, and opted for a counter-attacking approach.

“Eleven months ago we were here and the story was very different, we have to keep making steps,” added Arteta, who said his side still have to improve to match the standards City have set in winning five Premier League titles in six seasons.

“We are improving, competing better, understanding how you have to play these games.

“We have to come here and win. Today we draw and we still have to improve to be able to do that.”

Nathan Ake wasted the home side’s best chance in the first half when he failed to connect properly with a dangerous Kevin De Bruyne corner.

City were already missing the key defensive duo of Kyle Walker and John Stones after both were injured on international duty with England.

And Guardiola was forced to cobble together an even more makeshift backline when Ake hobbled off on 27 minutes.

Arsenal, though, rarely tested the City defence.

Gabriel Jesus could just not stretch far enough to meet Bukayo Saka’s cross in the only sign of life from the England international.

At the other end, Erling Haaland was extremely well-marshalled by Arsenal’s solid centre-back pairing of Gabriel Magalhaes and William Saliba.

And the Norwegian fluffed his lines when he did get a rare sight of goal seven minutes from time as he failed to connect with a corner at the back post.

Arsenal’s best chance to snatch all three points came late on when substitute Leandro Trossard fired straight at Stefan Ortega.

But a share of the spoils leaves the title race still tantalisingly poised with three points separating the top three.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News