Man City and Arsenal draw to hand Liverpool advantage

by 24britishtvMarch 31, 2024, 9 p.m. 20
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Last updated on .From the section Premier League

Manchester City and Arsenal handed Liverpool the advantage in the Premier League title race as they played out a bitterly disappointing goalless stalemate at Etihad Stadium.

This was a game that made a nonsense of its billing as a potential classic, as Arsenal's containing tactics snuffed out City while the Gunners had only limited chances of their own in a desperately poor affair.

Nathan Ake had an early close-range header saved by Arsenal keeper David Raya before going off injured while former City striker Gabriel Jesus posed an occasional threat, just failing to connect with Bukayo Saka's cross inches from goal after the break.
• None 'Stern and steely Arsenal not going away in title race'

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will be happier than City counterpart Pep Guardiola with this outcome - but the real winners were Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool.
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Guardiola's side were under greater pressure to win this match but their usual fluent passing game was rarely in evidence, stifled by the visitors' organisation and infuriated by referee Anthony Taylor's reluctance to punish the Gunners for a succession of infringements.

It led to a scrappy, disjointed game in which City were never allowed to gather their usual momentum and rhythm, with even the best efforts of master creators Kevin de Bruyne and Bernardo Silva unable to carve out meaningful opportunities for Erling Haaland, who was kept on the margins throughout.

The hosts held sway in possession for most of the second half but it was illustrative of the game that Raya barely had an anxious moment, his counterpart Stefan Ortega also idle for long periods.

Indeed, it is the first time City have failed to score at home in the Premier League since October 2021, a run of 47 games.

The reigning champions, as usual, will remain confident of retaining their title but Guardiola will be bitterly disappointed at his side's failure to trouble Arsenal, with substitute Jack Grealish on the end of some lengthy post-match advice from his manager.

City are back here at Etihad Stadium to face in-form Aston Villa on Wednesday night knowing they cannot afford any more slip-ups in this tight Premier League title pursuit.

Arsenal arrived at Manchester City with a point to make and a chance to show their improvement at a ground where they have had a miserable record in the past.

The Gunners last won here in January 2015, drawing one and losing eight of their subsequent nine visits before this game.

Here, Arteta set his side out to be fiercely drilled and well-organised to frustrate, a strategy seemingly designed to earn the point they secured rather than risk more for victory.

It was a conservative approach but what it did demonstrate was that Arsenal do have more resilience and character than on previous occasions, when they have sometimes capitulated under City's attacking assault.

Arteta's side were composed but also willing to throw bodies on the line when danger threatened, not that they were ever in serious peril of conceding - a tribute to their display in itself.

They have kept clean sheets in both games against Manchester City this season, making them only the fourth team to shut out a Guardiola side twice in the same season.

Whether this is one point gained or two lost remains to be seen, but Arteta seemed satisfied enough at the final whistle.

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