In Brief

Man City inflict more pain on Arsenal and Arsene Wenger

Thousands of Gooners stay away as City stroll to another easy 3-0 win

Arsenal 0 Manchester City 3

In the bitter cold of yesterday evening, the thousands of empty seats at the Emirates must have sent a chill down the spines of the Arsenal board. 

As commentators point out, the weather wasn’t to blame for the widespread absenteeism. How could it have been, when the Manchester City end of the stadium was full?

Arsenal fans stayed away in their droves because they knew another defeat was coming. And come it did, with another 3-0 drubbing, following Sunday’s identical scoreline against the same opponents. 

Last night’s goals came in a devastating first-half display from the Sky Blues, with Leroy Sane, David Silva and Bernardo Silva conjuring three moments of magic that will all be contenders for goal of the season come May. It was sumptuous football, far too good for Arsenal, although the side showed more spirit than they did in their weekend clash.

The Gunners registered ten shots on goal, five of which were on target, racked up six corners and had 46% of possession. City, by contrast, had nine shots, of which five were on target.

Three found the net to kill off the game before half-time. Following the break, City took it easy, keeping Arsenal at bay with consummate ease. The Gunners fluffed their one opportunity to claw their way back into the contest, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s limp penalty easily saved by Ederson on 53 minutes.

As Ederson soaked up the applause, television cameras panned to the Arsenal dugout, showing Arsene Wenger dropping his head in despair. 

It’s hard to see how the Arsenal board can justify his continued presence at the head of a club, now 30 points behind City, and ten behind Tottenham, who currently occupy the fourth berth for next season’s Champions League.

There was a weariness to Wengers’s post-match interview, a sign perhaps that he sees the end of the road up ahead.

“I knew the first half would be difficult for us after Sunday,” he said. “We needed at least to come in level at half-time but City took advantage of our lack of confidence. The team put a huge effort in but they’re going through a different period.”

The Arsenal manager said the goals were “preventable”, blaming them on “soft defending”.

Asked if Arsenal are on the same level as City, Wenger replied: “It doesn’t look like that at the moment, but we have to put things in perspective. The players have been through a lot of difficulties. We have to accept that City are above us. The difference in the league is no coincidence.”

No coincidence, but a damning indictment of a club now mired in mediocrity.

For City, the league title is all but wrapped up. Now 16 points clear of second-placed Manchester United, the Sky Blues have only to win four of their remaining ten games to be crowned champions.

Should neither they nor United drop points between now and the Manchester derby on 7 April, they could lift the title on that day.

“We don’t think too much,” replied Pep Guardiola when the scenario was put to him. “Hopefully, we have the desire to win, to be the best team in England. We forget that we are tired… these are the last steps to be champions, you keep going until the end.”

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