Man City and Arsenal draw to hand Liverpool advantage in Premier League title race

Stalemate at Etihad leaves Jurgen Klopp's side two-points clear at top of table

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Manchester City and Arsenal fought out a tense stalemate as they drew 0-0 at the Etihad Stadium – to hand the initiative to Liverpool in the Premier League title race.

Jurgen Klopp’s side had earlier come from a goal down to beat Brighton at Anfield and go top of the table.

And they stayed there after their title rivals failed to take their chance to keep the pressure up.

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, who could have leapfrogged Liverpool with a win, will still be the happier of the two sides.

The result leaves Liverpool top on 67 points, with Arsenal two behind them and City a further point adrift on 64.

Arsenal have kept a clean sheet in both of their league meetings with Manchester City this season, making them just the fourth side to shut out a Pep Guardiola side in two league matches in the same season, after Borussia Monchengladbach in 2014/15, Manchester United in 2020/21, and Crystal Palace in 2021/22.

City failed to break down Arsenal as the highly anticipated clash failed to live up to its hype. A share of the spoils preserved City's unbeaten home run stretching back to November 2022 and ended Arsenal's eight-match winning run in the Premier League.

City dominated possession but struggled to make anything of it against a defence that has conceded the fewest number of goals in the Premier League this season.

Arsenal have also been in free-scoring form at the other end, netting 33 times during their eight-match winning streak. However, the visitors had lost on their last eight trips to the Etihad, including a 4-1 thrashing as the title race swung decisively in City's favour last season, and opted for a counter-attacking approach.

Gabriel Jesus came into the Arsenal side on his return to the Etihad and had the visitors' best effort of a shot-shy first half when he dragged wide from the edge of the box. Nathan Ake wasted City's best chance in the first half when he failed to connect properly with a dangerous Kevin De Bruyne corner and David Raya gratefully smothered the loose ball.

City were already missing the key defensive duo of Kyle Walker and John Stones after both were injured on international duty with England. And Guardiola was forced to cobble together an even more makeshift backline when Ake hobbled off on 27 minutes.

Arsenal, though, rarely tested the City defence despite both sides upping the tempo after the break. Jesus could just not stretch far enough to meet Bukayo Saka's cross in the only sign of life from the England international.

Erling Haaland was extremely well-marshalled by Arsenal's solid centre-back pairing of Gabriel Magalhaes and William Saliba. And the Norwegian fluffed his lines when he did get a rare sight of goal seven minutes from time as he failed to connect with a corner at the back post.

Arsenal's best chance to snatch all three points came late on when substitute Leandro Trossard was released in behind, but the Belgian fired straight at Stefan Ortega. City's failure to find a winner means they are still yet to beat any of the top five in the Premier League this season.

And the champions now need favours from both Liverpool and Arsenal if they are to become the first side to ever win four consecutive English top-flight titles.

Arsenal boss Arteta, told the BBC: "A really competitive match as you can imagine. We made another big step today.

"They have the capacity to change formations to get you in deep in many moments. They are very physical but I think we coped with that very well.

"I think we had the best situations. We were really aggressive at times and getting the ball into great areas. The way we competed individually and as a team was phenomenal.

"Individually you have to be at your best. I think it is 2021 since they hadn't scored a goal here at the Etihad.

"It was a really tough test for us today. We wanted to win but when you cannot win you must not lose."

City boss Guardiola told Sky Sports: "We take the point. We tried. We didn't create much, they didn't create much. They defended very compact, we could not regain the balls high pressing because first contact, second contact they were there. They had a lot of quality and physicality.

"They had one or two chances in transitions when we lost one or two balls. But yes it was a tight game, we were who we are, we missed a little bit in the final third but it is not easy. The strikers run back with Rodri, the crosses they were really good with, the physicality and intensity."

On if he expected this type of game: "Yes. The last game at the Emirates was similar. We tried to create a little bit more but it is not easy. They have good players defending the way they did and they also did high pressing – they are fantastic in what they do.

"When we break them in contact with the wingers or with Haaland and then got inside there was Jorginho and Rice there. The spaces were very little. That is why they were top of the league, now it is Liverpool, but last season, this season they play really well."

Updated: March 31, 2024, 7:00 PM