Man City fight back to beat Arsenal

Leroy Sane scores

Leroy Sane scored two minutes after the break to get City back into the match

Manchester City moved up to second in the Premier League table as Arsenal squandered a lead to lose for the second successive game.

Theo Walcott’s cool fifth-minute finish from Alexis Sanchez’s pass put the Gunners in control at the interval – but the second half brought a familiar painful fate for manager Arsene Wenger and his players.

As at Everton on Tuesday, they were overpowered and the credits were rolling once Leroy Sane ran on to David Silva’s pass to beat Petr Cech with Arsenal appealing in vain for offside.

City were on a roll and Arsenal were on the rack, the winner coming 19 minutes from time when Raheem Sterling was the beneficiary of Kevin de Bruyne’s brilliant pass to arrow a low finish past Cech at his near post.

It bolstered City’s title ambitions, although they are still seven points behind leaders Chelsea and completed a damaging double for Arsenal as they now lie nine points behind Antonio Conte’s side.

Relive the action from the Etihad Stadium

De Bruyne steps up as Ozil disappears

Manchester City needed their main man when they trailed at half-time – and in the absence of the suspended Sergio Aguero that role is assumed by De Bruyne.

And how the Belgian responded, delivering a virtuoso second-half performance crowned by that superb pass that led to Sterling’s winner.

De Bruyne was the driving force behind City’s second-half transformation that saw Pep Guardiola’s team wrestle control from Arsenal with a change of tempo and intensity that was simply too much for Arsenal to resist.

The same could not be said for Arsenal’s elite players and the main culprit was Mesut Ozil who, as in the fierce atmosphere of Goodison Park on Tuesday, shrank from the occasion and wandered around aimlessly and ineffectively on the game’s periphery.

Ozil is in the middle of what are likely to be very lucrative contract negotiations. Performances like this will diminish his hand in the bargaining rather than strengthen it.

Good week for Guardiola and Man City…

Pep Guardiola (right) and Arsene Wenger<!–

Pep Guardiola (right) enjoyed his 16th win as Manchester City manager

Manchester City and Guardiola knew a lot was riding on two home games this week after the result, and the manner of the 4-2 defeat at Leicester City last Saturday.

City simply had to beat Watford and Arsenal, the stakes even higher after Chelsea stretched their lead to nine points with victory at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

A draw was no use to either side here – so the notion of defeat was even more unpalatable.

City were on the brink as they were behind at half-time but Guardiola responded by sending on Bacary Sagna for Pablo Zabaleta and Sane, who had been out on the wing, was soon racing through to score from a central position.

It was a win City needed desperately and its importance was illustrated by the celebrations at the final whistle.

…bad week for Wenger and Arsenal

Just when some of the old doubts about Arsenal’s resilience and resistance to pressure seemed to be receding, all the familiar questions will return after the way they have lost a lead and slumped to defeat at Everton and now at Manchester City.

Arsenal looked in calm control holding the advantage on both occasions but have twice found themselves broken by physical presence and the greater intensity of opponents who were simply prepared to dig deeper.

Wenger was wearing a familiar frustrated expression at the final whistle.

And at the back of many Arsenal minds will be the familiar tales and pain of previous seasons when promise and potential ended in title under-achievement.

Man of the match – Kevin de Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne<!–

De Bruyne made seven key passes – more than any other players on the pitch and provided that stunning assist for Raheem Sterling’s goal

Guardiola’s Indian sign over Wenger

  • City won a Premier League game they were losing at half-time for the first time since November 2012 (v Tottenham).
  • Meanwhile, Arsenal have lost three games from leading positions this season, more than they did in the whole of 2015-16 (2).
  • Indeed, the Gunners have lost back-to-back Premier League games having been leading for the first time since January 2012 (v Fulham and Swansea).
  • Guardiola has yet to lose a home game against Wenger in any competition (W4 D1).
  • Sane became the sixth German player to score a Premier League goal for City – more than any other club has provided.
  • Since joining Arsenal, Sanchez has had a hand in 59 Premier League goals (41 goals, 18 assists). Only Sergio Aguero (60 goals, 10 assists) has been involved in more in that time.
  • Sterling scored his first Premier League goal in nine games, since netting against Swansea in September.
  • Cech has gone eight Premier League games without a clean sheet for the first time in his career.

What’s next?

It’s Boxing Day action for both teams. Arsenal are at home to West Brom (15:00 GMT) and City are at Hull (17:15 GMT).

Live Text

Match ends, Manchester City 2, Arsenal 1.

Second Half ends, Manchester City 2, Arsenal 1.

Fernando (Manchester City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Fernando (Manchester City).

Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Gabriel (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

David Silva (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Gabriel (Arsenal).

Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal).

Jesús Navas (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Nacho Monreal (Arsenal).

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Fernando (Manchester City) because of an injury.

Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Fernando (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal).

Foul by Nicolás Otamendi (Manchester City).

Mesut Özil (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City).

Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution, Manchester City. Kelechi Iheanacho replaces Kevin De Bruyne.

Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City).

Gabriel (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Theo Walcott (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

Foul by Gaël Clichy (Manchester City).

Theo Walcott (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution, Arsenal. Mohamed Elneny replaces Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Gabriel (Arsenal).

Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) hits the right post with a left footed shot from the right side of the six yard box.

Substitution, Manchester City. Jesús Navas replaces Leroy Sané.

Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Mesut Özil (Arsenal).

Substitution, Arsenal. Olivier Giroud replaces Francis Coquelin.

Goal! Manchester City 2, Arsenal 1. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) left footed shot from the right side of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Petr Cech.

Attempt saved. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Bacary Sagna.

Offside, Manchester City. Kevin De Bruyne tries a through ball, but Leroy Sané is caught offside.

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