Arsenal held defending Champions Manchester City to a goalless draw at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday evening. As both sides failed to close the gap on Liverpool, who had, earlier in the day, beaten Brighton 2-1 at Anfield.

The result means that Jurgen Klopp’s side hold a three-point lead over City and are two above Arsenal with nine games of the season remaining.

In a quiet start at the Etihad as Arsenal came into the game with a clear plan. They would be defensively compact and look to play on the counter using the wingbacks as outlets.

Ake squanders first real chance

The first real chance of the game fell to Nathan Ake who mistimed his header from close range as Arsenal keeper David Raya held on.

The Dutch defender had to be replaced inside the first half an hour as he was unable to continue, fresh from international duty.

City dominated possession with their wide range of passing but uncharacteristically failed to garner any clear-cut openings. Both the visitors’ centre-backs, Gabrial and William Saliba, had brilliant outings, keeping Erling Haaland quiet.

Pep Guardiola had opted for Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri, and Mateo Kovacic in the middle of the park to keep the ball.

Despite having the lion’s share of possession, City were slow, hardly playing any penetrating balls up front, with most of the action happening on the wings.

Josko Gvardiol was a bright outlet on the left wing while Ben White had a superb outing. Gabriel Jesus got into a great goalscoring opportunity in the latter stages of the first half but dragged his shot wide that had City keeper Stefan Ortega scampering.

Liverpool now top the table
Liverpool now top the table

Liverpool now top the table

More of same in second half

City came very close to opening the scoring just two minutes after the restart. Kovacic opened his body to curl an effort from outside the box, but his shot just evaded Raya in goal and wide off the right post.

Haaland came close in the dying stages of the game but the City striker failed to get his foot on a flicked header at the far post, which summed up the game, a chance that the Norweigian would have scored on any other day.

Guardiola will certainly be disappointed by the way his side’s intent given what was at stake and their inability to get past a dodged Arsenal performance might cost them the title.

Mikel Arteta, on the other hand, would be happier of the two managers as they snatched a point and kept City goalless, City’s first since their 2-0 loss to Crystal Palace back in October 2021.

After the game, Guardiola claimed Liverpool are now the clear favorites, saying, “Arsenal are the second favorites, we are the third. Whoever is top is the favourite. It was in our hands. Now it’s not.”

While Arsenal host Luton Town next, City square up against Aston Villa in midweek. Liverpool, meanwhile, host Sheffield United before traveling to Manchester United next weekend in what will be a mouthwatering clash, given United dumped Liverpool out of the FA Cup just weeks ago in a thrilling encounter.

Photo credit: IMAGO / PA Images