Manchester City climbed above Arsenal into second in the Premier League after coming from behind to beat the Gunners 2-1 on Sunday.
A first goal for the club from Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling’s strike gave Pep Guardiola’s side a much-needed victory and condemned the visitors to a second defeat in a row.
Arsenal had been unbeaten in their last six against City and looked on course for another positive result when Theo Walcott opened the scoring with only five minutes played at the Etihad Stadium.
Guardiola dropped under-fire John Stones from his starting line-up, but City looked no more confident against a defensive Gunners set-up until Sane stroked in an equaliser just after half-time.
City, who wore shirts before the game bearing Ilkay Gundogan’s name following a serious knee injury sustained against Watford in midweek, began to play with a renewed spirit as a frustrated Arsene Wenger watched his players offer very little fight in the second half.
Sterling’s fine finish from a brilliant Kevin De Bruyne pass 19 minutes from time was no more than City deserved and, although Arsenal at last showed some attacking endeavour in the closing minutes, the Gunners failed to find an equaliser and they now drop to fourth in the table, only a point above Tottenham in fifth.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 18, 2016
The visitors needed only five minutes to unlock City’s porous defence. Alexis Sanchez was given too much time and space outside the area and he threaded a simple pass through to Walcott, who controlled the ball before slotting past Claudio Bravo from 12 yards.
Sterling somehow missed the chance to equalise only a minute later, heading De Bruyne’s cross from the left beyond the far post with the goal gaping.
City began to monopolise possession as Arsenal sat deep to await the chance to counter, but their attacking play was lacking in inspiration as they struggled to provide Sterling – who was deployed in the central striker role – with service.
De Bruyne almost reached a teasing Sane cross and Yaya Toure headed a corner straight into Petr Cech’s grasp, but Alex Iwobi drilling the ball into the net after Nacho Monreal had been flagged for offside offered a glimpse of the threat posed by the Gunners on the break.
Two minutes after the restart, however, some more slack defending allowed City to level the scores.
David Silva’s clever lofted pass sent Sane – who had just stayed onside – in behind the Gunners defence and allowed him to roll the ball past Cech and into the bottom-left corner from close range.
City suddenly looked confident as Arsenal dropped deeper and deeper and only a good save from Cech at his near post denied Sane a second following De Bruyne’s throughball.
The Belgium playmaker had Cech at full stretch with a deflected strike from distance but produced a moment of real brilliance to unlock Arsenal’s defence for the winner.
On the turn near the halfway line, De Bruyne raked a long ball into the path of Sterling down the right wing, and after Monreal allowed him to stride into the penalty area, he rifled a low shot past Cech at his near post and into the net.
De Bruyne hit the post from close range as City looked for a killer third, while Arsenal substitute Olivier Giroud headed one presentable chance wide, but Guardiola’s men held firm for a much-needed victory that moves them back to within seven points of leaders Chelsea.
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