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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at Etihad Stadium

Arsenal and Manchester City engage in cancel culture as stalemate denies either a decisive edge in title race

Manchester City (0) 0

Arsenal (0) 0

Arsenal proved again that they have the game to make life tough for the perennial league champions as they played out a third game without defeat this season to Pep Guardiola's men.

They surrendered top spot to Liverpool as their run of eight successive wins came to an end, but this was still a match which underlined they have the stomach for the fight as the season enters its final furlongs.

They seldom threatened to grab the goal which would have ended the hosts' long unbeaten home record, but equally they defended manfully, Gabriel and William Saliba rock solid at the back and Declan Rice marshaling the midfield shield alongside the tireless Martin Odegaard.

This was a result which suggested the familiar narrative of a City title might yet be broken, although for now, Liverpool are looking best placed to take advantage of any frailties. They lead the pile with 67 points from 29 games, with Arsenal on 65 and City on 64. All three have nine to play.

The weight of history was against the Gunners going into this one. Last season's 4-1 drubbing at the Etihad which all-but ended title hopes was all-too typical of how these games have gone in recent times.

The 1-0 win for Arsenal earlier in the season - thanks to Gaby Martinelli's winner - ended a wretched run of 12 successive Premier League defeats to City. The Community Shield win on penalties at the start of the season also did no harm - breaking the feeling that Guardiola's team are untouchable.

That said, with three successive title wins to their name, they remain daunting. Memories of the 5-0 drubbing two years ago when Granit Xhaka was sent off was one of seven losses in a row for the Gunners at the Etihad.

Throw in the unbeaten in 38 home games stat and the one about Rodri going 62 games without defeat for his club and the scale of the task was obvious.

The Gunners had to cope with that monstrous Man City press early on and could hardly break out of their own quarter of the pitch, let alone half. It was not a case of negativity, more a case of finding it tough to get hold of the ball for any length of time to affect proceedings.

Somehow they did get forward to offer Gabriel Jesus two glimpses of Stefan Ortega in goal - both efforts going wide. Most of the time, possession was coughed up as Arsenal tried to find a way through that thicket of sky blue shirts.

There were not too many moments of alarm, at least, though the Gunners were grateful that Nathan Ake did not get clean contact with a header from close range.

After the break, the game threatened to open more after its cagey overture and Bukayo Saka darted down the right to send in a low cross Jesus just failed to reach. There was also a slight heart-in-mouth moment when a flicked header from Josko Gvardiol reached a very subdued Erling Haaland at the far post, but the big Norwegian got his feet tangled up.

Other than that, there was very little for either set of fans to get very worked up about. It was a disappointing clash, given the big build up, but Arsenal remain very much in the fray, and right now they will settle for that.

City: (4-1-4-1) Ortega - Akanji, Ake (Lewis 27), Gvardiol - Rodri - Bernardo Silva, De Bruyne, Kovacic (Grealish 61), Foden (Doku 61) - Haaland

Gunners: (4-3-3) Raya - White, Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior (Tomiyasu 66) - Odegaard, Jorginho (Partey 66), Rice - Saka (Martinelli 78), Haveretz, Gabriel Jesus (Trossard 72)


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