Manchester City’s Imminent Ride to the Top
Issue 15, Volume 113
By Ahmed Radwan
Arsenal had been playing superb football from the start of the season, an unexpected title contender under the vision of Mikel Arteta. The joint youngest squad in the league was performing like one of Europe’s best. But their lack of experience against the likes of Manchester City had always been a thought on the back of everyone’s mind.
And thus, the cracks started to show. Arsenal’s dramatic fall from the top of the Premier League table followed a poor string of form, as the pressure surmounted upon them. The three games leading up to their match against Manchester City, dubbed the showdown for the title, saw Arsenal salvage a scrappy three points of the nine available. Arsenal had been sitting comfortably at the top of the league with an eight-point cushion separating them from Manchester City on Christmas. But in subsequent matches, they threw this advantage again with poor first-half play against struggling clubs. Against Liverpool, Arsenal had a two-goal advantage and drew. Against West Ham, they had a two-goal advantage and drew oncemore. At the Emirates, they gifted Southampton––a now-relegated team––a two-goal lead and drew. Arsenal showed their heart and will in that game to bring it back when everyone counted them out. They clawed one back in the first half before eventually conceding a third in the 66th minute, where their title dreams were starting to look like just a dream again. Arsenal bombarded the Southampton end with 25 total shots, finding two miraculous goals in the last two minutes of regulation to force a draw. While emotional and surreal, it was a failure of what their expectations were going into the match to stay in contention for the title.
Arsenal exhibited their deficiencies at the most crucial point in the season—when the great distinguish themselves from the good. These games foreshadowed what was to come in the deciding match against City, as midfielder Kevin De Bruyne found the back of the net within seven minutes. Even after the second goal right before the half, some still saw hope. But the third goal was different; the match was an outclass from top to bottom. The inexperience of Arsenal was put on display by Coach Pep Guardiola’s machine. By the time striker Erling Haaland made it 4-1 with his blonde hair flowing behind him like a hero’s cape, it was difficult to imagine there had ever been any chance for the Gunners. The loss to Manchester City on Wednesday night was not the only setback for Arteta and Arsenal; a first Premier League championship in nearly 20 years was revealed to be an illusion, shattering the irrational fantasy that this could all end with victory.
Guardiola’s Manchester City is now on track to win the Premier League for the fifth time in six years and the third time in a row. Manchester United is the only other team in England to have achieved such a feat. Additionally, Manchester United are the only club to have won the treble––a feat that requires the league, F.A. Cup, and Champions League in the same year. City may accomplish both in a single year. But unfortunately, as Arsenal falls further and further from the top, one must wonder what it all could have been had they kept their form in April.