Champions Manchester City produced a stunning performance to take complete control of the Premier League title race with a devastating 4-1 win over leaders Arsenal.
Kevin De Bruyne scored twice with John Stones and Erling Haaland also on the scoresheet at the Etihad Stadium as City landed a potentially decisive blow to the Gunners’ hopes of lifting the crown.
Arsenal claimed a late reply through Rob Holding, but treble-chasing City had long since asserted their dominance and Haaland finished the contest with his 49th goal of the season in stoppage time.
The result brought Pep Guardiola’s men to within two points of the Londoners at the top of the table and, with two games to spare, they are now favorites for a fifth title in six years.
Arsenal and their manager Mikel Arteta simply had no response to the pace, strength and determination of the hosts, who were ruthless at their best and cruised to their 12th win in their last 13 games in all competitions.
The stakes were high and, with Guardiola even more animated than usual and enraged by little indiscretions from his players or decisions he didn’t agree with, it was clear he felt it.
However, if the team felt any pressure, it didn’t come through as they pounced on a bland Arsenal from the start.
The Gunners’ season now looks to be crumbling. It had already been a harrowing month with their once healthy lead eroded by three successive draws and City showed no mercy when they sensed their chance.
The hosts had already had a penalty appeal rejected when they opened the scoring after just seven minutes.
Haaland held off Holding as he checked Stones’ long pitch at midfield and then released De Bruyne with a nice touch.
The Belgian broke away from the defense and finished beautifully with a low shot into the bottom corner as he reached the edge of the penalty area.
Arsenal had few replies and were good at preventing further damage until just before half-time.
Haaland surprisingly dismissed a quartet of good chances, with Aaron Ramsdale denying him three times and another try flashing narrowly wide.
Haaland also played De Bruyne for what could have been a carbon copy of the opening goal but Ben White blocked.
Thomas Partey shot wide from distance but otherwise Arsenal struggled and were further punished in first half added time when Stones headed in De Bruyne’s free-kick.
His attempt was initially disallowed for offside, but awarded after a lengthy VAR check.
Arsenal’s frustrations boiled over when a number of players were involved in a scuffle after Ruben Dias was penalized for a foul on White, but City quickly returned to pace after the break.
Haaland was again hampered by Ramsdale and Bernardo Silva’s goal blocked, but it seemed a matter of time before the home side would extend their lead.
It came after De Bruyne caught a mistake from Martin Odegaard and traded passes with Haaland before calmly making his way past Ramsdale.
City eased the gas and Arsenal had a late flurry capped off by Holding who carved out a consolation after a corner, but Haaland had the last word.