Man City and Arsenal deliver a technical snorefest as Liverpool are biggest winners at Etihad

This match was given top billing but neither team could find a way through as Premier League title race takes another twist

The only winners at the Etihad Stadium were Liverpool. Manchester City v Arsenal on Easter Sunday was given top billing and a prime-time TV slot, but in the end neither team could find a way through.

So with nine games remaining for the top three in the English Premier League, it is the Anfield men who lead the way after they overcame Brighton and Hove Albion at home 2-1 earlier in the day. They are two points clear of second-placed Arsenal on 67 points, with Man City third on 64 points. This much-vaunted match between the Citizens and the Gunners was the last time the trio directly come up against each other for the remainder of the campaign.

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Picking a champion right now would be folly. The rest of the season will be captivating viewing, unlike the largely dull fare served up by City and Arsenal. In technical terms, this was a match of high quality, but there was little drama and a paucity of veritable chances. Arsenal will surely be happier with the point than their hosts. It is so rare that Pep Guardiola’s men fail to score at home – this first time in 76 EPL games that last season’s treble winners have been involved in a goalless stalemate.

Arsenal's Gabriel Jesus misses an attempt on goal during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium against Manchester City.Arsenal's Gabriel Jesus misses an attempt on goal during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium against Manchester City.
Arsenal's Gabriel Jesus misses an attempt on goal during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium against Manchester City.

They were kept in check by an extremely disciplined Arsenal defence, marshalled by the impressive Gabriel and William Saliba. Mikel Arteta’s team were skittled 4-1 on their last visit to Man City. This performance was an example of the increased mental strength and maturity within this group in comparison to last term. The Gunners ended their eight-game losing streak in all competitions at the Etihad with this draw.

Defender Nathan Ake had the hosts’ only first-half attempt on target – a close-range shouldered effort straight at David Raya from a corner – and was forced off with an apparent calf injury in the 26th minute. Rico Lewis replaced him shortly after Kai Havertz stretched to meet the ball in a challenge with Stefan Ortega and City’s subsequent defensive rejig was nearly punished by the Gunners five minutes later. Good play down the right ended with a deep cross to Jakub Kiwior, who dropped the ball back for Gabriel Jesus to jink into space and hit a low shot across the face of Ortega’s goal.

Mateo Kovacic bent a 20-yard effort wide within two minutes of the restart. Then Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka got behind to slide a low ball across the face of goal that just evaded Jesus at the far post. Manuel Akanji had smartly disrupted the forward’s move, otherwise it could have been the opener.

Tempers were rising around the ground and there were ironic cheers in the 67th minute when Jesus received the first booking of the day after throwing the ball away. But the former City man received applause from some of the home support when he was taken off among a swathe of changes made by both managers.

Both sides wasted reasonable opportunities to win it at the end. First Erling Haaland just failed to get his toe on a ball in the box, then substitute Leandro Trossard got behind to test Ortega when he needed a cleaner shot or a pass to Gabriel Martinelli.

All three title contenders are back in action during the midweek. Arsenal host Luton and Man City are at home to Aston Villa on Wednesday, while Liverpool welcome Sheffield United to Anfield on Thursday.



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