Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Jorginho, Xhaka, Odegaard, Saka, Martinelli, Nketiah
Subs: Turner, White, Tierney, Holding, Kiwior, Vieira, Trossard, Nelson, Cozier-Duberry
Arsenal’s position at the top of the table was lost this evening, after a 3-1 defeat to Man City at the Emirates.
The Gunners were dealt a significant pre-game blow when Thomas Partey was ruled out with a muscular injury. January signing Jorginho replaced him in midfield, with Takehiro Tomiyasu recalled ahead of Ben White at right back.
The game began in bright fashion, with an early attempt from Granit Xhaka which was fired over, but you got the sense both sides were feeling each other out. Silva was lucky to escape without a booking for a foul on Saka, and Eddie had a shot blocked after a fine Jorginho pass.
City found Haaland at the back post but the Norwegian’s cut back caught his teammates by surprise and there was nobody there. Arsenal then created their best chance of the game in the 21st minute, a Zinchenko cross found Eddie but the ball came off his shoulder rather than his head and went wide.
Minutes later, City were ahead. Saliba mistimed a header, Tomiyasu underhit a back pass to Ramsdale, and Kevin de Bruyne ghosted in to clip the ball first time into the net from just outside the box. 0-1.
The Japan international almost equalised shortly after but clipped his left footed shot over tbe bar, and after space opened up for Saka the winger was unusually hesitant and got crowded out by defenders. Kyle Walker picked up a strange booking for coming back on the pitch after going off injured, and Ederson – having previously been warned – was given a yellow card for time-wasting.
The Gunners response to going behind was good, and Eddie almost scored but his effort was cleared off the line. However, in the process Ederson was adjudged to have fouled the striker and Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot. Saka stepped up, Ederson kept pointing to one side as if to say ‘Put it there’, so he did while the keeper went the other way. 1-1.
Silva picked up a long overdue booking for yet another foul on Saka, and as we headed towards the end of 6 minutes of added time in the first period, City hit the bar with a deflected effort before Ramsdale came to Arsenal’s rescue. The teams went in at the break level after a pulsating first half.
Neither manager made a change at half-time, and there was an early booking for Tomiyasu for not taking a throw-in quickly enough. Arteta made a fine challenge on de Bruyne in his own technical area to stop City taking a quick throw, and in a game of high drama, City were awarded a penalty when Gabriel and Haaland tangled in the box. However, after an interminable wait, VAR ruled it out due to the Norwegian being offside, and the yellow card awarded to Gabriel was rescinded.
Guardiola made a change, bringing on Akanji for Mahrez, which meant Ake went to left back and Silva moved further forward. Grealish and Nketiah picked up yellow cards as the temperature of the game kept rising, and a great Tomiyasu cross was begging for a touch from the Arsenal striker but at full-stretch he just missed from point blank range.
From a City free kick, there was a scramble in the box but it required Jorginho to clear off the line, and moments later a mistake from Zinchenko saw Haaland close in on goal but Ramsdale did brilliantly to smother. Arsenal were under pressure, and in the 71st minute City went ahead. They moved it down the right , fed it across the box, it came to Grealish and Ramsdale was beaten by a deflection rather than the power of the shot itself. 1-2.
Xhaka had a chance to hit it, but got tackled, and Arteta made his first change with Trossard replacing Martinelli with 15 minutes to go. City brought on Foden for Grealish.
As Arteta waited to bring on Vieira and White, City extended their lead. A nice move around our box saw the Norwegian left free and he fired home with his right foot. 1-3.
The two subs came on for Xhaka and Tomi, but the mood had gone flat. Kalvin Phillips came on for de Bruyne, and once again Eddie was found wanting in front of goal when he headed a Saka cross wide in the last minute of normal time.
To beat City, you have to be basically perfect, and there were just a few too many errors at both ends for Arsenal tonight.