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Premier League | Gameweek 30
Mar 31, 2024 at 4.30pm UK
Etihad Stadium

Man City
0 - 0


Jesus (67'), Raya (79')

Liverpool stay top as Manchester City, Arsenal play out cagey stalemate

:Headline: Liverpool stay top as Manchester City, Arsenal play out cagey stalemate:
Liverpool stay top of the Premier League table after Manchester City and Arsenal play out a cagey 0-0 draw at the Etihad Stadium.
Sports Mole

Liverpool remain top of the Premier League table after Manchester City and Arsenal played out a cagey 0-0 draw at the Etihad Stadium on Easter Sunday.

Unlike the Easter Bunny, neither the Citizens or the Gunners were able to deliver on Sunday in an eagerly-anticipated title showdown, with clear-cut chances at a premium.

Nathan Ake went the closest to scoring for the hosts early in the first half before he hobbled off injured, and Gabriel Jesus also had a couple of first-half opportunities for the Gunners against his former club.

Man City penned Arsenal back into their half for much of the second 45, but they were ultimately unable to find a way through a resilient and well-organised Gunners backline, and the spoils were eventually shared in a tense contest.

Neither Pep Guardiola or Mikel Arteta will turn their nose up at claiming a point apiece from such a seismic clash in the title race, but the true winners of the Easter weekend are new leaders Liverpool, who sit two points clear of second-placed Arsenal and three points ahead of Man City in third following their 2-1 win over Brighton & Hove Albion earlier this afternoon.

Man City were boosted by the return of Kevin De Bruyne to the starting lineup, while John Stones made a surprise appearance on the substitutes' bench just over 24 hours after being ruled out of the contest by Guardiola at his press conference. Both Kyle Walker and Ederson, however, were absent due to injury.

As for Arsenal, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Magalhaes were both passed fit to start, with Gabriel Martinelli shaking off a foot problem to make the bench, while the return of Jesus against his former club was the only change made to Arteta's first XI following their Champions League win over Porto before the international break.

Following a frantic start in the middle of the pitch in a pumped-up atmosphere at the Etihad, it was the Citizens who took control of proceedings early doors. However, Arsenal had the first attempt on goal in the seventh minute when Jesus chested down a floated Ben White cross inside the area before dragging a tame effort into the side netting at the near post.

Man City enjoyed a sustained period of possession and created their first real opportunity in the 15th minute, when De Bruyne curled an inviting in-swinging corner towards Ake inside a packed six-yard box, but the Dutchman could only glance his header straight at David Raya.

While City continued to patiently probe in the final third, boasting 75% possession, Arsenal struggled to put a string of passes together and were forced to primarily concentrate on keeping the hosts' lively attackers quiet inside their own half.

Not long after Kai Havertz collided with Ortega inside the area after being slipped through by Jesus, the Citizens were dealt an injury blow just before the half-hour mark as Ake hobbled off with an unknown problem – teenage right-back Rico Lewis came on as his replacement, with Manuel Akanji moving over to centre-back alongside Ruben Dias.

The Etihad faithful and Man City players vented their frustration towards referee Anthony Taylor as he allowed a number of late Arsenal challenges go unpunished, opting to keep his cards in his pocket.

Arsenal put together one of their best moves of the first half in the 33rd minute when Odegaard sprayed the ball from right to left towards Jakub Kiwior, who cushioned a pass into Jesus just inside the area. The Brazilian did well to create space and chop onto his left foot, but he could only fizz his low strike wide of Ortega's left post.

A rare lapse in concentration from Mateo Kovacic then gave Arsenal an opportunity to drive forward, but City tracked back well to get bodies behind a venomous Jesus shot, shortly before Rodri met Akanji's cross and glanced a header wide at the other end.

Man City made a positive start to the second half and almost broke the deadlock less than two minutes after the restart when Kovacic bent a 25-yard right-footed strike inches wide of the post.

Arsenal responded well, but a glorious chance went begging as no Gunners attackers busted a gut to meet Saka's delightful delivery across the six-yard box after he burst down the right channel to run onto Odegaard's smart through-ball.

There was a greater level of spark and urgency from both sides in the first 10 minutes of the second half compared to the opening 45, and both sets of supporters reacted to that as they spurred on their respective teams, aware that the contest was there for the taking.

Guardiola opted to make a double change on the hour mark, with Phil Foden and Kovacic making way for Jeremy Doku and Jack Grealish, who were brought on to operate on the flanks as Bernardo Silva moved into a central position alongside Rodri.

Arteta then followed suit five minutes later, with Thomas Partey and Takehiro Tomiyasu brought on at the expense of Jorginho and Kiwior. Moments later, a sarcastic cheer from the Etihad faithful reverberated around the stadium after the referee handed the first yellow card of the afternoon to Jesus for needlessly kicking the ball away.

Tensions intensified heading into the final 20 minutes; Arsenal began to sit further and further back as Man City attempted to break through the Gunners' well-organised low block in search of a winner.

De Bruyne used his strength brilliantly to battle past Partey and drive forward on the counter-attack down the left flank before setting up Belgian compatriot Doku on the right, but he lent back and fired a shot high over the crossbar.

Martinelli, who replaced Saka for the final 10 minutes, was immediately involved in the action and had a powerful strike blocked by Akanji, before Doku and Haaland both had efforts to score at the other end, the latter taking a swing and a miss with his left boot at the back post after meeting a Josko Gvardiol header.

As the game became stretched, Gunners substitute Leandro Trossard tried his luck from a tight angle, but his effort was thwarted by Ortega, before a resilient Gunners backline stood firm to block crosses from De Bruyne, Bernardo and Doku from dangerous positions.

Neither side could create anything clear-cut in the five minutes of additional time, and so the points were shared to keep the enthralling three-way title race wide open heading into the final nine games of the campaign.

Man City are back in action at the Etihad on Wednesday when they play host to top-four hopefuls Aston Villa, while Arsenal return to the Emirates Stadium to take on Luton Town. body check tags ::

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Premier League Table
CManchester CityMan City38287396346291
4Aston Villa382081076611568
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs382061274611366
7Newcastle UnitedNewcastle381861485622360
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd38186145758-160
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham381410146074-1452
10Crystal Palace381310155758-149
11Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton381212145562-748
14Wolverhampton WanderersWolves38137185065-1546
17Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest3899204967-1832
RLuton TownLuton3868245285-3326
RSheffield UnitedSheff Utd38372835104-6916
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