Defender David Luiz produced a comedy of errors in a horrendous 25-minute appearance as 10-man Arsenal slipped to a 3-0 defeat at Manchester City on the Premier League’s return.
Brought on as a substitute in the 24th minute following an injury to Pablo Mari, the Brazilian’s error led to Raheem Sterling’s opener (45+2) before he was sent off for hauling down Riyad Mahrez inside the penalty area four minutes into the second half.
Kevin De Bruyne made no mistake from the spot (51) before substitute Phil Foden (90+1) rounded off the scoring to condemn Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta to a heavy defeat on his return to the Etihad Stadium.
Victory for City consolidates their position in the top four and means Liverpool, who are 22 points ahead of Pep Guardiola’s side, will not be able to seal the Premier League title at rivals Everton on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Arsenal’s first league defeat in 2020 is a heavy blow to their chances of mounting a late push for Champions League qualification, leaving them eight points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with nine games remaining.
Man City: Ederson (7), Walker (7), Garcia (6), Laporte (7), Mendy (7), Gundogan (6), D Silva (7), De Bruyne (8), Mahrez (6), Sterling (7), Jesus (6).
Subs: Foden (7), B Silva (6), Rodri (6), Fernandinho, (6), Aguero (n/a)
Arsenal: Leno (8), Bellerin (6), Mustafi (6), Mari (6), Tierney (6), Guendouzi (6), Xhaka (6), Willock (5), Saka (6), Aubameyang (5), Nketiah (6).
Subs: Ceballos (6), Luiz (3), Lacazette (6), Maitland-Niles (6) Nelson (6).
Man of the match: Kevin De Bruyne
Just as Aston Villa and Sheffield United did at Villa Park earlier in the day, players, staff and officials from both Man City and Arsenal took a knee just after kick-off to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Once the action got under way Kevin De Bruyne saw his free-kick tipped over the crossbar by Leno before Arsenal suffered a double injury blow.
Xhaka had to leave the field on a stretcher with what appeared to be an ankle injury just minutes into the match after colliding with Matteo Guendouzi, and he was replaced by Dani Ceballos. Then, in the 24th minute, Pablo Mari pulled up with a hamstring injury and was replaced by David Luiz before things started to go downhill for the Gunners.
Leno had to be at his very best to keep the hosts at bay towards the end of the first half. Sterling cut in from the left and forced a fine stop from the Arsenal goalkeeper, before the German produced an even better stop to thwart David Silva low down to his left.
Mahrez was also denied by leno, before Sterling, who was picked out by De Bruyne, lifted the ball over the goalkeeper and the crossbar.
But just as the Leno thought he’d got his side into the break level, Sterling capitalised on Luiz’s attempts to cut out De Bruyne’s cross and fired home home from a tight angle to send City into the break with the advantage.
Things went from bad to worse for Arsenal and Luiz minutes into the second half.
Mahrez used his pace to get in behind Luiz and the defender’s reckless attempt to get back on level terms with the forward left referee Anthony Taylor with no choice but to point to the spot.
The red card quickly followed before the video assistant referee cleared the decision, and De Bruyne made no mistake from the spot.
The game was then plain sailing for Manchester City until Eric Garcia suffered a serious injury in the final 10 minutes after a nasty collision with goalkeeper Ederson. The incident led to the defender receiving lengthy treatment before leaving the field.
Guardiola’s side then made it 3-0 as Foden finished from close range after Sergio Aguero’s effort came back off the post.
City’s next stop will be against Burnley at the Etihad on Monday evening in the Premier League.