Man City beats Arsenal to seize momentum in EPL title race

Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli, right, kicks the ball ahead of Manchester City's Rodri during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates stadium in London, England, Wednesday, Feb.15, 2023. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
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LONDON (AP) — Manchester City seized the momentum in the Premier League title race after Jack Grealish and Erling Haaland helped secure a 3-1 win at Arsenal on Wednesday in a top-of-the-table match.

Grealish and Haaland both scored in the second half as the defending champions extended their recent dominance over Arsenal and showed they won’t relinquish the title easily.

The win puts City in first place ahead of Arsenal on goal difference, although the Gunners still have a game in hand. More importantly, perhaps, it maintained a psychological edge over Mikel Arteta’s team as City has now beaten Arsenal in 11 straight league matches.

In a game that lived up to the billing of the biggest Premier League match of the season so far with moments of end-to-end action, City took the lead when Kevin de Bruyne capitalized on a defensive error in the 24th minute, before Bukayo Saka equalized from the penalty spot in the 42nd.

Arsenal made a bright start but gave away the lead cheaply after City goalkeeper Ederson booted the ball up the field. Right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu tried to pass the ball back to Aaron Ramsdale but only hit it into the path of De Bruyne, who curled a lob over the onrushing goalkeeper and into the empty net.

Minutes earlier, Eddie Nketiah had spurned the best chance of the game so far when Oleksandr Zinchenko picked him out in the box with a cross but the striker headed wide.

Tomiyasu had a chance to make amends in the 28th after Gabriel Martinelli picked him out with a cross into the area but the Japan international volleyed the ball well high of the bar.

But Arsenal’s pressure paid off when it was awarded a penalty for a foul by Ederson on Nketiah as the striker tried to shoot from a difficult angle, and Saka calmly rolled it into the left corner after sending Ederson the wrong way.

City then thought it had a penalty early in the second half when Gabriel clumsily pulled down Haaland in the area, but the decision was overturned for an offside on the Norway striker.

But City still retook the lead after another mistake by Gabriel, who turned the ball over in his own half. The visitors countered quickly and Ilkay Gundogan squared the ball for Grealish, who beat Ramsdale with a low shot that took a deflection off Tomiyasu.

Haaland was fit to start after picking up a knock in the previous game against Aston Villa on Sunday and took his tally to 26 league goals this season when De Bruyne cut the ball for the striker, who took one touch before slotting a shot into the far corner.

Nketiah sent another header wide late on but that was the closest Arsenal came to pulling a goal back.

Arsenal has now gone three straight league games without a victory — losing two of those — after racking up 16 wins in the first 19 rounds of the season. The Gunners have dropped more points in those three games (8) than they did in the first 19 (7).

The game had originally been scheduled for October but was postponed because of a schedule reshuffling in the wake of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.