London: It wasn’t the greatest game — or the prettiest goal — that the Emirates Stadium has seen, but the roar of celebration was among the loudest it has ever heard.
Perhaps the pendulum has finally swung Arsenal’s way in the fight for Premier League supremacy.
Gabriel Martinelli’s late goal handed Arsenal a 1-0 win over defending champion Manchester City Sunday, ending a 12-game losing streak in the league against Pep Guardiola’s team in the process.
Despite 30 games still to play, and only two points separating the two teams, it was a result that will fuel the belief at Arsenal that Mikel Arteta’s team can finally end a 20-year title drought after coming up just short last season.
“It gives (us) more confidence,” Martinelli said. “We know our potential and how tough it is to play against them. Today we beat them and it gives us more confidence to kick on.”
Second-place Arsenal has the same number of points as leader Tottenham.
City pipped Arsenal to the title by five points last term, in part by beating the Gunners 3-1 away and 4-1 at home. In fact, Arsenal had not taken a point against City in the league since 2017, its longest losing streak against a single opponent in club history.
While Arsenal did beat City on penalties in the preseason Community Shield at Wembley, this result was perhaps the biggest statement win of Arteta’s reign, and the final whistle was greeted by a massive roar as the Emirates crowd stood up as one to celebrate.
There hadn’t been much to cheer about for the first 85 minutes, though, aside from the fact that City never looked like its normal self — perhaps because of the absence of suspended midfielder Rodri.
For once, City’s high-powered attack was kept quiet throughout the game — including striker Erling Haaland, who finished without a single shot but got into a heated argument with a member of Arsenal’s backroom staff after the final whistle. City as a team only had four shots in the game, its lowest total ever under Guardiola in a Premier League game.
City has now lost consecutive league matches for the first time since 2018 after a 2-1 defeat at Wolves last weekend.
“It was a tight game. Not many chances, one deflection,” Guardiola said. “It is football, we lost the game. We will come back stronger.”
Arsenal didn’t create much either without injured winger Bukayo Saka, whose club record streak of starting 87 straight league games came to an end.
But Arteta’s second-half substitutions paid off as Thomas Partey, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Kai Havertz and Martinelli — who had all come off the bench — combined for the goal. Partey sent a ball over the top for Tomiyasu, who had strayed into the City area and headed the ball down for Havertz. The German smartly laid it back for Martinelli, whose shot from just outside the area deflected off Nathan Ake’s forehead and into the net.
Cue the wild celebrations, which lasted long after the final whistle had blown. And the belief that Arsenal can finally topple City’s hold on the title will last even longer.
“It is a special one,” Arteta said. “It has been a long time since the club beat Manchester City. We felt today could be the day but we needed a big performance from everyone and we had that.”
Liverpool drops points again
Liverpool couldn’t blame the match officials for the team’s latest setback. This time it was defensive mistakes that were at the heart of a 2-2 draw at Brighton.
A mix-up between Virgil van Dijk and Alexis Mac Allister gifted Brighton an early lead, and Lewis Dunk scored a 78th-minute equalizer for the hosts after Mohamed Salah had scored twice late in the first half.
Van Dijk played a careless ball to Mac Allister near his own area that was intercepted by Simon Adingra in the 20th minute and the winger rolled the ball past the stranded Alisson Becker in the Liverpool goal from 25 yards out.
“It is a risky ball and we try to play out from the back,” Van Dijk said. “These things happen and you get punished. The way we bounced back was a great reaction.”
Still, it was more dropped points for fourth-place Liverpool, a week after its controversial loss at Tottenham.
Klopp has called for a replay of that game after VAR failed to award his team a goal that had been wrongfully disallowed for offside and Liverpool finished the match with nine men and conceded a stoppage-time winner.
Newcastle held at West Ham
Newcastle’s run of impressive wins came to a halt with a 2-2 draw at West Ham, despite Alexander Isak scoring twice for the visitors.
Coming off a 4-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League and a recent victory over Man City in the English League Cup, Newcastle looked headed for another three points until Mohammed Kudus equalized for West Ham in the 89th minute.
Isak had scored two goals in a five-minute span around the hour mark to put Newcastle ahead after Tomas Soucek had put the hosts ahead from close range in the eighth minute.
Newcastle was denied a fifth straight win in all competitions, including an 8-0 victory over Sheffield United in the league.
Aston Villa missed the chance to climb into the Premier League’s top four as it was held to a 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton.
Pau Torres equalized for Villa in the 55th minute, just two minutes after Hwang-Hee Chan had given Wolves the lead.