- Daniel Gallagher-Parker
Review and Player Ratings as De Bruyne and Haaland lead Arsenal outclassing – Man City 4-1 Arsenal
Manchester City did what they always do when Arsenal come to the Etihad; they blew them away. A Kevin De Bruyne brace, either side of John Stones' brilliantly taken header – assisted by the Belgian – stunned Arsenal. This was all before Erling Haaland broke yet another Premier League goal-scoring record in injury time.
With the absence of Nathan Ake, many anticipated a return to the Premier League starting XI for Aymeric Laporte, but he remained on the bench, and it was Kyle Walker who filled in for the Dutchman.
After a rotated line-up against Sheffield United last Saturday, key players like De Bruyne, Stones, Ruben Dias and Rodri all returned to the team sheet, whilst Ederson was back in between the sticks.
Despite all the guesses ahead of kick-off, it was Manuel Akanji that started left back, with Walker at right back and Stones occupying the right side of the centre half pairing with Dias.
The Blues started well and had a couple of penalty claims within the opening two minutes, but Michael Oliver waved both away. The most notable of the two was Arsenal's holding midfielder tripping De Bruyne in the penalty area, but the official deemed it a foul against the Belgian.
City came flying out of the blocks, and an absolutely phenomenal finish from De Bruyne, who loves a screamer against Arsenal, scored another outrageous effort on another big occasion.
Fantastic build-up play from Haaland, who brought down a lofted pass and with his second touch sent the midfield maestro on his way; City's #17 had the option to play it wide to Jack Grealish, but he did what he does best and drove at the heart of the Gunners' defence and from five yards outside the box let fly into the bottom right corner.
Despite the visitors enjoying more possession in the opening quarter of an hour, it was City who you would say controlled the first half. Multiple times City's press forced Mikel Arteta's side into making mistakes.
It was City's turn to maintain possession and Bernardo Silva very nearly doubled the hosts' advantage, but his shot was a tame effort that was easily stopped by Aaron Ramsdale.
Whether or not it was an intentional tactical tweak by Pep Guardiola before kick-off but Haaland was dropping deeper and allowing De Bruyne to run beyond him into the space vacated by Arsenal's centre-halves, who picked up the Norwegian.
The difference-maker at the Emirates earlier in the season nearly had his second of the game, but his attempt at goal was brilliantly blocked by Ben White.
City's #9 finally got through on goal himself and wriggled his way past Rob Holding superbly, but Ramsdale was equal to the task and denied the City forward of breaking the Premier League goalscoring record, at least for the moment anyway.
Haaland found himself bearing down on goal once again: this time it was Grealish who played a nice chipped pass for the striker to run on to and his venomous volley, albeit from a tight angle, was parried away by Arsenal's goalkeeper.
After an awkward few seconds of possession by City, it went from zero to 100 in a split second as Grealish found himself with acres of space after De Bruyne flicked it around the corner – the Englishman opted to give Haaland yet another opportunity, but this one was millimetres outside of the post.
If you had to give a player of the first-half award, it would surely have to go to Ramsdale. The Englishman produced yet another great save to deny Haaland for the third time in 40 minutes. There's not much more the 22-year-old could have done to get himself on the scoresheet in the first half.
Arsenal finally entered City's defensive box for the first time in the game, and it was a deep cross by former City player Oleksandr Zinchenko, which was comfortably dealt with by Dias.
The most in-form centre-half in Europe gave City a 2-0 lead right before half-time from De Bruyne's pinpoint cross. Stones' execution of the header was perfect, he headed it back across goal into the top right corner, and this time there was nothing Arsenal's #1 could do about it.
The two-nil lead was nothing more than the hosts deserved after a completely dominant first 45 minutes. A typical De Bruyne big game performance with both a goal and an assist already.
As everyone expected, it was more open right from the beginning of the second half, with De Bruyne having yet another chance, but he miskicked the ball. Whilst a cross / shot by Granit Xhaka was the first time Ederson was required to use his hands.
There's only a certain amount of words to describe Ramsdale denying Haaland. A goal kick taken by Dias was collected by the Norwegian, and all he had to do was slot it past the shot-stopper, but his legs denied Haaland for a fourth time.
Just one minute later, De Bruyne had his second of the night after he cleverly intercepted Arsenal's passing out the back. Haaland received the Belgian's interception and once again played him through on the goal. The midfielder wonderfully slotted the ball into the bottom right corner through the legs of Holding.
Ilkay Gundogan decided to be the next City man to try his luck, but his effort wasn't to the level of De Bruyne's long-distance goal as the German didn't even challenge the Arsenal goalkeeper.
After De Bruyne's second of the night, the majority of the game was played in the middle of the park, with the odd scrap between Grealish and whichever Arsenal player he wanted to wind up at the time.
Bukayo Saka had his first effort of the game from a free kick approximately 20 yards out, but it went well over Ederson's goal.
After a lengthy spell of possession, second-half substitute Reiss Nelson broke free of Rodri's press before passing it out wide to another substitute, Edde Nketiah, who dragged his shot well wide of the mark.
Unfortunately, City and Ederson's clean sheet was taken away by nothing more than a consolation goal from a well-taken effort from inside the box by Holding to make the scoreline 3-1.
Despite getting two assists, if Haaland left the field without a goal, you would have thought he would have been disappointed – and it's a good job he got his goal, isn't it?
Phil Foden's five-minute cameo was enough to set up his teammate for his record-breaking goal. It wasn't his best strike of the night, but it was just enough to get past the man who stopped him so many times throughout the game.
The Norwegian was always bound to break the record in style, so of course, it had to be done as he let his hair down for everyone to see as he became the player with the most Premier League goals (33) scored in a 38-game season. He also has seven assists to his name in the league, not a bad return for a player who can't link up.
City are now two points behind Arsenal in the league, with two games in hand on the Gunners.
Up next for Guardiola's side is another Premier League fixture as they spend another weekend in London as they take on Fulham at Craven Cottage on Sunday. The game will be live on Sky Sports, kicking off at 14:00 BST.
Man of the Match
It genuinely could have been any single one of the players wearing a sky-blue shirt on the pitch, but it would be cruel to not give it to De Bruyne. The 31-year-old was once again on fire as he faced the red side of London. Two fabulously taken goals and a phenomenal assist set City on their way to yet another astonishing win against their title rivals. It's getting to the point where these performances are no longer a surprise; it's more of a surprise if he doesn't play like this in a big game.
Ederson - 10
Walker - 10
Akanji - 10
Dias - 10
Stones - 10
Rodri - 10
De Bruyne - 10
Gundogan - 10
Bernardo Silva - 10
Haaland - 10
Grealish - 10
Substitutes: Mahrez - 10, Alvarez - 10, Foden - 10
Written by: @DanGP17_
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