Manchester City hosted Premier League leaders Arsenal at the Etihad on Wednesday night in the hopes that they could close the gap, and take matters into their own hands to give them an advantage in the title race.
And WOW, did they do that?
Arsenal have spent the majority of the season at the top of the Premier League, and they continued to impress both their fans and pundits with their pacey, high energy football – similar to what we have seen from Pep’s City in the past.
However, with that style of football comes an immaturity that we have seen in City during the Champions League later stages. Whilst it is exciting to watch, it can come with a price.
Something that they are now beginning to recognise after dropping 6 points in their 3 games prior to tonight’s clash – with the defeat to the blues tonight, that makes it 9 points in 4 games dropped.
Manchester City went into the game 5 points behind the Gunners with 2 games in hand. In typical City fashion, they have entered the business end of the season in fine form indeed.
The anticipation of the game had been huge and the build up dramatic with claims that the on field battle would be a title decider – however, I am sure we can expect more twists and turns in the final stages.
The current Premier League Champions put on a display that illustrated to the wannabe champions just what it takes to reach the highest levels.
Ederson, Walker, Stones, Dias, Akanji, Rodri, Gundogan (C), De Bruyne, Bernardo, Grealish, Haaland.
In a total team performance, the defence was as solid as the midfield which was as effective as the attack. There were goals, fights between players, referee heckling and the return of the Poznan.
The blues were calm, confident, measured, mature, professional and put on a Champions masterclass which saw a whole other side to record breaker Erling Haaland.
His hold up and link up play was outstanding, setting up Kevin De Bruyne for the opening goal. In a goal similar to the one we saw in Munich; the Arsenal press was high, and Ederson distributed the ball calmly to Stones, who went with a long ball to Haaland.
His first touch and lay off to De Bruyne was a thing of beauty, and the Belgian charged towards the opposition goal with the ball, placing it around Ramsdale in the bottom corner.
Haaland and De Bruyne were involved in the second goal just ahead of half time, as the Nordic Meat Shield won a free kick in the Arsenal half. The assist king stepped up, and had a little fist bump with Stones before lining up.
The ball was floated in to John Stones who was flagged offside, until VAR determined that Ben White kept him on. A lovely header that put the blues 2 in front – JOHNNY, JOHNNY STONES!
Roars from the crowd came as the players awaited the referee to announce the decision, and chaos ensued.
The third for the blues came from another Haaland and De Bruyne link up in the 54th minute, as KDB pinched the ball back from Arsenal in the centre circle and threaded it to Erling who was able to carry the ball forward and get a through ball to De Bruyne in the penalty area and made it 3-0.
Arsenal pulled one back through Rob Holding who gave a cheeky smile like he’d scored the winning goal. It was a little too late for the Gunners to try and get back into the game with only a few minutes remaining.
The final goal came in the final minute as Foden brought down the ball from the sky on the edge of the penalty area and played in Haaland, who finally and deservedly got his goal, taking the blues to 4-1.
The first substitution for Manchester City came around 70 minutes with a tired looking skipper coming off for Mahrez. The next sub came just less that 10 minutes later, with Man of the Match, KDB making way for Alvarez.
A final sub was made with Grealish coming off, and Foden making his home return after his surgery. He played less than 10 minutes and bagged himself an assist as if business as usual.
With an incredible atmosphere from before the game even kicked off, Pep talked and the whole of the Etihad listened, fans were in fine form as they sung loud and proud for the boys in blue.
Joy erupted so much so after the third goal that we saw the the Poznan, not for the first time this season.
City will no doubt treat every game like a final from here on in. Can they go all the way to threepeat Premier League?