Arsenal can't, so can anyone stop Man City from winning the treble now? Winners and losers as Kevin De Bruyne turns on the style to sink sorry Gunners

Comments (0)
Kevin De Bruyne Rob Holding GFX
Getty/GOAL
Pep Guardiola delivered a tactical masterclass as the defending Premier League champions ran out 4-1 winners over their nearest rivals

That's that then. The Premier League title race has been one of the best in recent memory, but surely it's over now after Manchester City's mauling of Arsenal on Wednesday?

Pep Guardiola's side ran out 4-1 winners over the Gunners, as Kevin De Bruyne led the way with two goals amid an impressive attacking performance from the Belgian playmaker.

John Stones and Erling Haaland also got on the scoresheet with goals at the end of each half, with Rob Holding's late strike only a consolation for Mikel Arteta's outmatched side.

Arsenal actually remain top of the table with a two-point lead, but having dropped nine points in their last four matches and with City still having two games in hand on them, it seems inevitable that the Gunners will now come up short.

🏆 TOP STORY: Haaland breaks Salah's goal record

đź“Ł HAVE YOUR SAY: Is Lukaku the answer to Chelsea's scoring woes?

🚨 MUST READ: Arsenal couldn't, so can anyone stop Man City?

City, meanwhile, are now well and truly on the treble hunt. The Premier League is almost in the bag, they are in the FA Cup final and are two games against Real Madrid away from the Champions League showpiece. Can anyone stop them in this kind of form?

GOAL breaks down the winners & losers from the Etihad Stadium...

  1. WINNER: Kevin De Bruyne & Erling Haaland's partnership
    Getty Images

    WINNER: Kevin De Bruyne & Erling Haaland's partnership

    Usually, De Bruyne is the one administering Haaland’s goal feasts, but here their roles were reversed, and it was the Norwegian who was fuelling City’s goalscoring.

    Haaland kept dropping deeper into midfield, winning a host of battles with Arsenal players, and every time he got hold of the ball, rather than heading for goal, he looked for De Bruyne.

    Take nothing away from the Belgian, though, who stormed through the middle and produced an exquisite finish into the bottom corner for the opening goal.

    Haaland was strangely profligate in front of goal for much of the night and it fell upon De Bruyne to put the game well and truly out of Arsenal’s reach with another finish which oozed class, sliding the ball through the legs of Rob Holding and into the bottom corner.

    But guess who had provided the pass? It was Haaland again, taking advantage of a loose pass from his compatriot Martin Odegaard.

    It would not have been right for such a symbolic game to end without Haaland scoring, and he duly delivered deep in added time to beat Mohamed Salah’s record of 32 goals in a 38-game Premier League season.

  2. LOSER: Thomas Partey

    LOSER: Thomas Partey

    You need your big players to step up in big games and there are few players at Arsenal bigger than Thomas Partey when it comes to their importance to the team.

    This was always going to be a match where the Gunners needed Partey to try and stamp his authority on the game to bring some control to the midfield.

    But the Ghana international struggled throughout. He simply couldn’t deal with De Bruyne, who was drifting into areas behind Partey and constantly pulling the strings for the home side.

    The way the City skipper eased past Partey in the build-up to the first goal was really poor from an Arsenal point of view.

    Yes, Rob Holding could maybe have dealt with the high ball better before Haaland played it to De Bruyne. But Partey seemed to be running in second gear as the Belgium international just waltzed past him and into the space between the centre-backs.

    That passage of play summed up Partey’s night really. He just couldn’t get close to De Bruyne and City’s captain dominated the game as a result.

  3. WINNER: Pep Guardiola
    Getty Images

    WINNER: Pep Guardiola

    Against the best team in the league aside from his own, Guardiola's side produced their best performance of the season.

    City dominated every aspect of the game. In certain spells they sent Arsenal into a spin with their impeccable short passing game, moving the ball across the turf at lightning pace and not allowing their opponents near it. Moments later they were playing long punts down field and Haaland was monstering Granit Xhaka or Odegaard.

    Jack Grealish was winning every physical duel while Haaland was intercepting and playing delightful outballs. It was a complete performance and Guardiola is responsible for it.

    The coach crafted the perfect game plan while juggling two other competitions and after losing Nathan Ake to injury.

    The master beats the student once again.

  4. LOSER: Rob Holding
    Getty Images

    LOSER: Rob Holding

    This was always going to be a very difficult night for Holding. It was obvious that City were going to target him and that Haaland would look to get himself one-on-one against him as much as possible.

    The question was how was Holding going to be able to deal with that. It didn’t take long for the answer to become clear.

    Arsenal’s centre-back just couldn’t cope. He tried to play on the front foot and press high, but City just played the ball around him and then raced into the space that he had vacated.

    To be fair to Holding, there are very few defenders that could live with Haaland in this type of mood. and it must be remembered that William Saliba was given a torrid time by the City striker in the game at the Emirates.

    But there’s no doubt Saliba’s injury and Holding’s inclusion in the side has had a huge impact on Arsenal’s season. It is not a coincidence that results have nosedived as a result.

    To Holding’s credit, he did take his goal very well late on, but that can’t and won’t mask his obvious deficiencies. 

  5. WINNER: City's treble hopes
    Getty Images

    WINNER: City's treble hopes

    City still have seven Premier League games to play but, given their dominance here and how they have come into their own at the crucial point of the season, it looks as if step one of the treble is complete.

    City may still trail Arsenal by two points, but they have two games in hand and the only fixture which looks like it might trouble them is the trip to Brighton.

    The home games against Leeds, West Ham and Chelsea look like three-point bankers, while Arsenal have to go to Newcastle and host Brighton.

    If City can get their title bid on track and be confident of winning it even while dropping points, they can then afford to rest players before their Champions League semi-final first and second legs with Real Madrid.

    The 14-time European champions look like being the biggest obstacle to City’s treble ambitions, as they look far superior to FA Cup final opponents Manchester United, even allowing for the fact tensions will be high in the derby at Wembley.

    At the end of March, Arsenal still looked like tough title rivals, but that is no longer the case, and the impossible dream of winning the big three trophies is looking all the more probable.

  6. LOSER: Arsenal's title dreams
    Getty Images

    LOSER: Arsenal's title dreams

    Well, that’s that.

    Mathematically there is still a chance obviously, but Arsenal’s title hopes are now all but over.

    It’s been a great run, but they have run out of steam at the wrong time. This was billed as a title decider between the two best teams in the country, but within a few minutes it was quite clearly men against boys.

    Arsenal just had no answer to the brilliance of City. The home side were on another level and should really have won by far more than just the three-goal margin.

    Arteta’s side may still be top of the table, but they won’t be there for long. City’s third successive Premier League title now looks inevitable, with the gap reduced to just two points and with those two games still in hand.

    That’s nothing to be ashamed about for Arsenal. The fact they have led this City side for almost the entirety of the season shows just how well they have performed.

    But they just couldn’t keep up the pace. Guardiola’s side have been relentless in their pursuit and now they have made their decisive move.