London, Feb 22 –
Manchester City appear to be marching emphatically towards what would be their third Premier League title in four years after a 1-0 win over Arsenal, giving them a comfortable 10-point lead in the table. Remarkably, this was their 18th consecutive win in all competitions this season and their 11th positive result playing away from home. It equals the best all-time run for an English top-flight side set also by the club in 2017.
Asked to compare this feat to his 2018 team’s record 100-point haul in the league, City manager Pep Guardiola said: “I think it’s even better this time because we had such a difficult start to the season. People look at our run of wins and think it’s so easy, but I didn’t expect it and I’m surprised and impressed by how well we have done. When all the other teams have been suffering and dropping points, we have been so consistent for the last two months.”
Guardiola went on to say: “We won at Chelsea, at Anfield (against Liverpool), at Goodison Park (against Everton) and now at Emirates, incredibly tough games. That’s why I’m more than pleased to win just 1-0. People talk about records and victories but to do this you have to win this type of game many, many times. I’m more than grateful to these players for what they are doing because they are digging out results when it really matters and that is what brings tight, winning teams.”
Arsenal were shocked by City’s early offensive. Raheem Stirling missed a shot at a chance in the opening minute. Then with just 79 seconds into the match, the visitors took the lead. Ruben Dias, a new City signing this season, sent a beautiful long, diagonal pass to Riyad Mahrez, who went past left-back Kieran Tierney and crossed left-footed from the right for 5ft 7in tall Stirling to move away and outjump Rob Holding to head inside the far corner.
City enjoyed more of the possession throughout the game and had some near misses. Their control was such on the game that Arsenal never looked able to hit back with an equaliser, let alone a winner. They did have a couple of near misses when Tierney had a fine effort saved in the first half and later Nicolas Pepe drove one into the side-netting.
Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta said: “The way we conceded that early goal meant we had to be exceptional for the rest of the game and nail it. And we didn’t do that. We had some really good moments where we matched them but the reality is that when we got into good positions, we lacked the final pass and the quality needed to score two or three goals. But at the moment they are the best team because they dominate in every single department.”