MATCH REPORT: Manchester City 4-1 Arsenal

Manchester City (2) 4 Arsenal (0) 1

Premier League

Etihad Stadium, Ashton New Road, Manchester M11 3FF

Wednesday, 26th April 2023. Kick-off time: 8.00pm

(4-3-3) Aaron Ramsdale; Ben White, Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhães, Oleksandr Zinchenko; Martin Ødegaard (c), Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka; Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli.

Substitutes: Kieran Tierney, Emile Smith-Rowe, Eddie Nketiah, Jakob Kiwior, Leandro Trossard, (Jorge Luiz Frello Filho) Jorginho, Fabio Vieira, Reiss Nelson, Matt Turner.

Scorers: Rob Holding (86 mins)

Yellow Cards: Thomas Partey

Arsenal Possession Percentage: 48%

Referee: Michael Oliver

Assistant Referees: Stuart Burt, Ian Hussin

Fourth Official: Craig Pawson

VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR David Coote; AVAR Eddie Smart

Attendance: 51,694

At last the day has arrived for the most eagerly awaited Premiership match of the season. Although it is not a “Premiership Decider” as some elements of the press would have us believe, the result tonight could certainly go a long way as to who lifts the trophy at the end of May.

We kicked off proceedings tonight at the Etihad Stadium, and the home side charged at us quickly with Kevin de Bruyne whipping in a cross that Aaron Ramsdale grabbed out of the air. Shortly afterwards, Aaron Ramsdale palmed out a Jack Grealish cross; Kevin de Bruyne charged in to try and follow-up and was sent tumbling by a tackle from Thomas Partey. The referee gave us a free-kick, despite appeals from the City players for a penalty. In the seventh minute, the home side took the lead when Erling Haaland held the ball up and sent a neat little pass into the path of Kevin de Bruyne, who took the ball to the edge of the box, away from Rob Holding and then fired a low shot past Aaron Ramsdale and into the bottom corner of the net. In the period after the goal was scored, the home side put us under pressure, with Jack Grealish and Kevin de Bruyne looking for gaps in our defence. Although our passing was good, we just could not seem to find a way out of our half for any sustained period of time. Somehow we have to find a way to break through the vice-like grip the home side have on the match at this moment in time. This could be a long night for us. We had a free-kick awarded to us on the edge of the City box after twenty-three minutes, but although Granit Xhaka’s chip found the head of Gabriel, his header went nowhere. A couple of minutes later, Kevin de Bruyne nearly got his second goal of the night when Erling Haaland played a clever ball through the middle for him, but fortunately Ben White managed to block his shot at the last minute to prevent what seemed to be a certain goal by the home side. On the half-hour, Aaron Ramsdale got down well to stick out a hand out and deflect an Erling Haaland shot away from goal and shortly afterwards, another Erling Haaland effort was pushed away by Aaron Ramsdale, thankfully. Ten minutes from half-time, a Thomas Partey shot went inches wide of the target, and again almost imediately afterwards a series of clever moves by Kevin de Bruyne and Jack Grealish found Erling Haaland, whose strong shot went inches wide of Aaron Ramsdale’s right hand post. Three minutes before the break, we were awarded a corner, which Bukayo Saka duly took, but it went nowhere after goalkeeper Ederson punched the ball clear. In injury time, John Stones headed the ball into the back of our net, but it was cancelled out at first for offside, but after an inquiry by the VAR team, it was given. After an incident between Ruben Dias and Ben White (in which the City man was booked), to our relief, referee Michael Oliver blew the whistle for half-time.

Seconds after the restart, Kevin de Bruyne nearly scored when Bernardo Silva chipped a ball to him, but he could not connect with a volley; shortly afterwards, the ball was pulled back to Granit Xhaka on the edge of the penalty area, but he could only curl a weak shot straight at Ederson, who saved it easily. Aaron Ramsdale made a great save with his feet from Erling Haaland (again) and a little while later, Kevin de Bruyne scored the third City goal of the night when he was played through nicely by Erling Haaland (again). Jorginho and Leandro Trossard replaced Gabriel Martinelli and Granit Xhaka after an hour, and it really made no difference, as the home side still went on the hunt for yet more goals. We look outnumbered in midfield, and everyone looks flat footed here tonight. We were fortunate not to get away with another goal conceeded when Ilkay Gundogan had a clear chance to score, but thankfully high and wide. Arsenal were just passing the ball around, unable to find a way through the City midfield, and with twenty minutes of the match remaining, our captain (Martin Ødegaard) made way for Emile Smith-Rowe. Thomas Partey received a yellow card after an incident with Jack Grealish, and with twelve minutes of the match remaining (after a Bukayo Saka free-kick that went nowhere) Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah replaced Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka in order for us to try and get something out of this match tonight. Eddie Nketiah almost scored after being found on the edge of the box by fellow sub Reiss Nelson; he fired an angled shot that flew across the goal and past the far post. With four minutes of the match remaining, from a corner, Leandro Trossard set up Rob Holding to fire in a superb effort for us to get a goal back. In the five minutes injury time, almost to add insult to injury Erling Haaland scored City’s fourth goal with literally seconds of the game remaining. 

It was City’s match from the start to the finish here at the Etihad tonight. We may well have got forty-eight per cent possession out of this game, but that was all. We were outclassed, outplayed, and there were times that we looked like rabbits caught in the headlights. All in all, a very disappointing evening for everyone concerned. But, we are still top of the Premiership, and there are still matches to be played and points to be won and lost in the next month for both teams. Although it does look extremely bleak at the moment, there is still a chance to win the Premiership, despite the fact that City have games in hand. But they have to win those, and strange things can happen with a Premiership run-in. Start praying everyone.

Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Chelsea at the Emirates on Tuesday, 2nd May at 8.00pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.


Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.