Manchester City delivered a crushing blow to leaders Arsenal in the Premier League title chase on Wednesday, outplaying them 4-1 in a titanic showdown between the top two at the Etihad Stadium.
A stunning display by De Bruyne, who scored a brace, ensured Pep Guardiola’s team destroyed Arsenal to win their 12th straight league match. City took control of their destiny as a result.
After Haaland’s ball set up De Bruyne’s goal in the seventh minute, the home team barraged the Arsenal goal before John Stones duly extended their advantage with a header in the last seconds of the first half.
Arsenal, who entered the match five points ahead but had drawn three straight games, appeared helpless to halt the onslaught, and when De Bruyne scored his second goal early in the second half, the leaders were forced to focus on damage control.
Although Rob Holding scored a late consolation for Mikel Arteta’s team, City appears to be the front-runner to win a fifth championship in as many years.
Finally scoring in stoppage time, Haaland has 49 goals for the season in all competitions, which is the most by an English top-flight player since Clive Allen in 1986–87.
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With their seventh straight league victory, City currently leads Arsenal with 73 points to Arsenal’s 75, but significantly, City has played two fewer games than the Londoners, whose chances of winning their first championship since 2004 now seem dim after going four games without a victory.
If Guardiola’s City defeat Fulham this weekend, they will overtake Arsenal, who have been ahead of them for virtually the whole season.
“We know what people will say but it’s so hard and many things can happen,” De Bruyne told BT Sport.
“It’s seven games still to go, lots of points, and we are still two points behind Arsenal. Our schedule is hectic, there are a lot of things going on we have to prepare for Sunday.”
Arsenal’s April was disastrous, but if they had defeated City in the league for the first time since 2015, they would have regained control of the race. But as Haaland and De Bruyne started to work together to deadly effect, it was already too late.