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EPL: Manchester City beat Arsenal, go top

Manchester City are top of the Premier League after a 3-1 victory over Arsenal in north London on Wednesday night. Jack Grealish and Erling Haaland…

Manchester City are top of the Premier League after a 3-1 victory over Arsenal in north London on Wednesday night.

Jack Grealish and Erling Haaland scored the second-half goals that proved the difference in an entertaining top-of-the-table clash.

Kevin De Bruyne’s opportunistic finish midway through the first half had opened the scoring before Arsenal levelled through a penalty shortly before the break.

The champions responded in the best possible manner to put a marker down in this year’s title race.

The Citizens now have 51 points from 23 matches and a positive goal difference of 36 with Arsenal on the same points tally and a goal difference of 26 having played one game fewer.

Ruben Dias was pivotal in the opening exchanges, twice stepping in front of Eddie Nketiah’s shots to deny the young striker.

City’s first opening of the night came in the 16th minute as Erling Haaland latched on to a sumptuous Riyad Mahrez cross. However, the Norwegian was caught between finding a teammate and attempting to score himself.

Nketiah, who was introduced to this Arsenal team earlier this season following Gabriel Jesus’ injury, had his third chance of the night when he met Oleksandr Zinchenko’s cross with a glancing header that went wide of Ederson’s post.

For all of City’s careful passing in the face of intense Arsenal pressing, it was a long Ederson ball that created the chaos that led to Kevin De Bruyne’s opener midway through the first half.

Takehiro Tomiyasu, forced to sprint back towards his own goal under pressure from Jack Grealish, played the ball in the direction of Aaron Ramsdale but it didn’t have the necessary power to reach the Arsenal goalkeeper.

De Bruyne spotted the narrowest of windows and with one stroke of his left boot cleared Ramsdale and curled the ball inside the near post.

Tomiyasu had the chance to make amends for the home side almost immediately but his left-footed volley went over Ederson’s goal.

Arsenal were back on level terms in the 42nd minute after referee Anthony Taylor awarded the hosts a penalty for a collision between Nketiah and Ederson following a shot from the Arsenal striker.

England winger Bukayo Saka completed the job from the spot, sending the visitors’ goalkeeper the wrong way.

That wasn’t the final chance of the half, with Rodrigo heading a free-kick on to Nathan Ake’s toe that deflected up on to Arsenal’s crossbar.

The second period began as the first ended; with both teams intent on finding a second goal.

City appeared to have a penalty just before the hour mark when Haaland was hauled down by Gabriel. Referee Taylor pointed to the spot but a VAR investigation ruled the Norwegian offside.

Manuel Akanji’s arrival in place of Mahrez saw City move to a more traditional back four for the final 30 minutes.

The Swiss defender was introduced to strengthen City’s back line but his first impact on the game was in the opposition’s box, digging out a shot that was cleared off the line.

The substitution also saw Bernardo Silva move to the right wing, where he started the move that ended with City’s 72nd-minute second.

He flicked the ball through to Haaland who rolled it across the 18-yard line and into the path of Grealish, after a clever dummy from Ilkay Gundogan.

The England attacker stepped on to the ball and hit a shot that took a slight deflection on its route beyond Ramsdale.

It was three in the 82nd minute when Gundogan rolled De Bruyne in. Instead of shooting, the Belgian found Haaland, who took one touch and swept the ball home with his right foot for his 26th Premier League goal of the season.

Arsenal responded desperately but City saw the closing stages out for a statement of intent in the 2022/23 Premier League title race.

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