0-1, min. 5, Walcott. 1-1, min. 47, Sane. 2-1, min. 71, Sterling.
Manchester City 2-1 Arsenal: City breathe new life into title hopes with stirring second-half comeback

Manchester City 2-1 Arsenal: City breathe new life into title hopes with stirring second-half comeback

Manchester City overcame Arsenal to narrow the gap to the top of the Premier League at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling handing City the three points despite Theo Walcott putting the Gunners ahead on four minutes.

charlie-malam
Charlie Malam

Manchester City came from behind to beat Arsenal 2-1 and breathe new life into their Premier League title hopes, also subsequently damaging that of the Gunners, in an enthralling game at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Pep Guardiola's charges came into the game 10 points behind Chelsea, who stretched their winning run to 11 games on Saturday, but fell behind inside five minutes after Theo Walcott made the most of Alexis Sanchez's set-up.

It took City until the second-half to respond as Arsenal enjoyed the better of the first 45, but the hosts eventually summoned a reply through winger Leroy Sane, who scored his first goal in City colours just two minutes after the break.

City eventually reversed the advantage on 71 minutes when Raheem Sterling received Kevin De Bruyne's phenomenal cross-field pass, before cutting inside and firing low past Petr Cech to give his club their first win over Arsenal since December 2013.

That meant City move into second and cut the gap to front-runners Chelsea to seven, with Arsenal now nine points adrift after losing their first league game in 15 matches at Everton on Tuesday, also having been ahead at half-time.

City opt for De Bruyne false nine in Aguero's absence

Guardiola returned to the 4-1-4-1 formation that carried City to 10 consecutive wins in all competitions earlier in the campaign, but remained without the suspended Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero.

The Spaniard made two changes to his team, one seeing Fernando Reges come in for Ilkay Gundogan, with the midfielder set for an extended period on the sidelines after suffering a severe knee ligament injury in the mid-week win over Watford.

Nolito was dropped in favour of starting De Bruyne as a false nine, with Sane also coming in as Guardiola opted to bench John Stones for the second successive game. 

Arsene Wenger, with no fresh injury problems, made just the one change to the Arsenal team that suffered only their second league defeat of the season at Everton earlier in the week, with Alex Iwobi replacing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out wide. 

Walcott fires early Arsenal opener 

Their title credentials having took a dent at Goodison Park, the onus on Arsenal here was to prove that they could muster a response and they did that inside just five minutes thanks to yet more brilliance from their talisman Alexis Sanchez.

The Chilean came into the game having played a part in 27 goals in his last 27 appearances for the Gunners and fed a stunning through ball to Walcott to get in behind City's fragile defence.

From there, Walcott kept his composure to fire low past Claudio Bravo and hand Arsenal an early advantage with his fourth goal in his last four appearances against City.

Guardiola's side sought an immediate response and should have levelled no less than two minutes later when De Bruyne's cross found Sterling unmarked from eight yards, but the winger could only glance his header disappointingly wide.

City frustrated throughout the rest of the first-half

But while the home side dominated possession, Arsenal's compact defensive shape left them frustrated despite their abundance of creative quality in the final third.

Coupled with the pace and movement of the visitors - in particular the world-class inter-play of Sanchez and Mesut Ozil - City were clearly wary of over-committing going forward.

That meant that Arsenal were comfortable, their well-drilled back-line aided by the protection of Granit Xhaka and Francis Coquelin.

Their fluidity going forward meanwhile handed Walcott a number more chances, though he could only head wide from Nacho Monreal's cross with the best opportunity Arsenal created.

Both teams took it in turns to trade punches without landing anything in the final minutes of the first 45, City only going close through Yaya Toure's downwards header from a De Bruyne corner.

Consequently Arsenal went into half-time deservingly ahead, preserving their record as the only team in the Premier League this season not to have gone into the break as the losing team. 

City draw level immediately after the restart

Yet their lead only lasted two minutes into the second-half as City hit through back through Sane.

Straight from a Petr Cech goal kick, City won possession in the centre circle, Silva exchanging passes with Sterling before lofting a ball over the back-line and into the path of Sane.

Despite appearing offside, the linesman's flag was not raised and Sane ran on to the pass to poke beyond Cech for his first ever goal in England since signing from Schalke for an initial £37 million fee.

That also meant Cech had conceded in eight straight Premier League games for the first time in his career, and swung the momentum of the game in the favour of the Sky Blues.

More goals seemed inevitable and the fact neither side could afford defeat, or even a draw, due to Chelsea's commanding position at the top of the Premier League table, made for an entertaining affair.

Sane came close to his and City's second on the hour mark after the hosts pressed to win possession in the final third and De Bruyne's clever slotted through ball found him in space, but Cech was quick off his line to deny the 20-year-old German.

Attemping to reverse the home side's ever-increasing confidence, Wenger turned to Oxlade-Chamberlain with his side having severely lacked the slick and seamless pass-and-move attacking that they showed throughout the first-half.

Sterling puts City deservingly ahead 

Though Arsenal begin to enjoy improved spells afterwards, City remained on the front foot and the Gunners required Cech to make a strong stop to keep out De Bruyne's deflected effort from 20 yards.

And City's efforts came to fruition in the 71st minute when De Bruyne's superlative switch ball found Sterling in space down the right-hand side.

The England international held the ball up inside the box before cutting on to his left foot and lashing a low drive past Cech at his near post to put City ahead.

Again Wenger looked to his substitutes' bench, sacrificing Coquelin to bring on Olivier Giroud and give Arsenal a focal point to build their attacks around. 

But once again, the substitution failed to turn the tide around and De Bruyne struck the post from substitute Jesus Navas' cross just moments later, with City going on to claim a massive win for their hopes of claiming a first title since 2014 by moving up to second.

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