Bukayo Saka's penalty miss, William Saliba's injury and Brighton's brutal beatdown: Ten biggest moments in Arsenal's title-race collapse

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GOAL takes a look back at the crucial moments that led to Mikel Arteta's side being pegged back by Manchester City

Arsenal’s title dreams are over. After leading the way for so long, the Gunners were overtaken by a relentless Manchester City, and Pep Guardiola’s side have now disappeared into the distance.

Sunday’s 3-0 mauling by Brighton means the Gunners now know that if they now lose at Nottingham Forest next Saturday, that the title will officially be City’s. And even if they do avoid defeat, then a win for City over Chelsea 24 hours later will seal the deal.

It’s a hammer blow for Mikel Arteta’s side, who had an eight-point lead at the top of the table just six weeks ago, but have begun to limp over the line while City have been unstoppable in galloping towards the finish line.

GOAL takes a look at some of the key moments from the season that saw an Arsenal side who had looked unstoppable for so long, ultimately have to settle for second best...

  1. Dyche’s debut
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    Dyche’s debut

    This was a game that came one week too late for Arsenal. Everton were a shambles under Frank Lampard, were shipping goals all over the place and looked a very easy team to play against.

    But they sacked Lampard just ahead of Arsenal’s visit and replaced him with Sean Dyche, who took charge of the Toffees for the first time against the Gunners.

    Goodison Park was a cauldron on the day, and a fired up Everton looked a completely different side as they inflicted a first league defeat in 14 games on Arsenal.

  2. Lee Mason’s mistake

    Lee Mason’s mistake

    It feels like a long time ago now, but the draw against Brentford when VAR Lee Mason forgot to draw the offside lines and so awarded Ivan Toney an equaliser that should have been ruled out was costly for Arsenal.

    Ultimately, it’s not going to prove decisive in terms of the league table, as City are going to win the title by more than two points, but at the time it meant that Arsenal went into their home game against City on the back of two games without a win.

    Who knows what would have happened had they go into that match on the back of a 1-0 victory rather than a 1-1 draw? It could have given them the confidence boost they needed to overcome Pep Guardiola’s side.

  3. Saliba’s injury 
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    Saliba’s injury 

    The sight of William Saliba limping off during the first half of Arsenal’s Europa League last-16 second leg against Sporting CP was a worrying one. But no-one would have expected his back injury to have quite as big an impact on Arsenal’s season that it actually did.

    The hope was that Saliba would be back relatively swiftly, but the France centre-back has not featured since, and his absence has had a huge impact on Arsenal’s season.

    Arteta’s side have picked up just 15 points from a possible 27 without Saliba, conceding 17 goals in nine games.

  4. Tomiyasu's injury
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    Tomiyasu's injury

    What made Saliba’s injury even worse, was that Arsenal also lost Takehiro Tomiyasu in the same game. The right-back suffered a nasty knee injury against Sporting and was almost immediately ruled out for the remainder of the season.

    Had Tomiyasu have been fit, it’s highly likely that he would have come in at right-back, allowing Ben White to move inside to partner Gabriel Magalhaes at centre-back for the rest of the campaign. That would certainly have made Arsenal a far stronger defensive unit than they have been in recent weeks.

  5. The Xhaka/Trent spat

    The Xhaka/Trent spat

    Arsenal were 2-0 up and cruising at Anfield in April with half-time approaching. Liverpool looked down and out, with the home fans sitting in a stunned silence and what they were witnessing.

    Then, Granit Xhaka needlessly got involved in a spat with Trent Alexander-Arnold that stirred up Liverpool and got Anfield rocking. The hosts pulled a goal back almost immediately and then went on to snatch a 2-2 draw right at the end following a much-improved second-half showing.

  6. Martinelli’s overhit pass

    Martinelli’s overhit pass

    Even after Roberto Firmino had made it 2-2 at Anfield, Arsenal did have a golden chance to go on and win the game.

    A fabulous save from Aaron Ramsdale resulted in a quick break away by the visitors as the match ticked into stoppage time. Leandro Trossard’s clever flick found Gabriel Martinelli, who had Bukayo Saka racing away in front of him, completely unmarked.

    All Martielli had to do was play Saka in and he would have been clean through on goal, but the young Brazilian overhit his pass and Alisson Becker was able to race out of his penalty area and clear the danger.

  7. Saka’s missed penalty 
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    Saka’s missed penalty 

    This was arguably the biggest moment in Arsenal’s season. Having just thrown away a two goal lead at Anfield, Arsenal went to West Ham and again found themselves 2-0 up early on. The hosts pulled a goal back before half-time, but Arsenal had a golden chance to restore their two-goal advantage in the second half when they were awarded a penalty.

    Had Saka scored, it felt like the three points would have been secured. But he missed, and West Ham then went down the other end of the pitch and equalised almost immediately.

    It was a second successive game that Arsenal had dropped points after being two goals in front, and it led to serious questions being asked about their ability to deal with the pressure.

  8. The draws against Southampton 
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    The draws against Southampton 

    After the draws against Liverpool and West Ham, there was no better fixture for Arsenal have than Southampton, the Premier League’s bottom club, at home. It was the perfect opportunity to respond, but instead the Gunners fluffed their lines again.

    They conceded within 30 seconds and were 3-1 down with just a few minutes remaining. They did manage to fight back to salvage a 3-3 draw, but it was a third successive game without a win and handed the title advantage firmly to Manchester City.

    It was also Arsenal's second draw of the season against Southampton, following on from the 1-1 stalemate at St Mary's. That meant Arsenal had dropped four points against the worst team in the league over the course of the campaign.

  9. The City double header

    The City double header

    Arenal travelled to the Etihad Stadium on April 26 knowing they had one last chance to wrestle back control of the title race. It was always going to be a tough task, especially with their defensive issues, and in the end they were brushed aside by Guardiola's side with relative ease.

    They were beaten 4-1, following on from the 3-1 defeat when the sides met at the Emirates a couple of months before. Beating City to the title is already an extremely difficult job. Doing it having lost both league games to them in the season makes it almost impossible.

  10. The Brighton capitulation

    The Brighton capitulation

    The brutal final nail in Arsenal’s coffin. With City having won at Everton earlier in the day, Arteta’s side knew they had no room for error against Brighton. A win was a necessity to keep their faint hopes alive, but in the end they were well beaten - with Arsenal capitulating in the second half as they fell to just their second home league defeat of the season.

    There was no way back after this.