Man City draw Arsenal to hand Liverpool title lead

Manchester City and Arsenal handed Liverpool the advantage in the Premier League title race as they played out a bitterly disappointing goalless stalemate at Etihad Stadium.

Liverpool is now top of the table and two points clear of Arsenal after they came from behind to beat Brighton at Anfield, their delight increased by their two closest rivals cancelling each other out.

This was a game that made a nonsense of its billing as a potential classic, as Arsenal’s containing tactics snuffed out City while the Gunners had only limited chances of their own in a desperately poor affair.

Nathan Ake had an early close-range header saved by Arsenal keeper David Raya before going off injured while former City striker Gabriel Jesus posed an occasional threat, just failing to connect with Bukayo Saka’s cross inches from goal after the break.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will be happier than City counterpart Pep Guardiola with this outcome – but the real winners were Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool.

Guardiola’s side were under greater pressure to win this match, but their usual fluent passing game was rarely in evidence, stifled by the visitors’ organisation and infuriated by referee Anthony Taylor’s reluctance to punish the Gunners for a succession of infringements.

It led to a scrappy, disjointed game in which City were never allowed to gather their usual momentum and rhythm, with even the best efforts of master creators Kevin de Bruyne and Bernardo Silva unable to carve out meaningful opportunities for Erling Haaland, who was kept on the margins throughout.

The hosts held sway in possession for most of the second half, but it was illustrative of the game that Raya barely had an anxious moment, his counterpart Stefan Ortega also idle for long periods.

The reigning champions, as usual, will remain confident of retaining their title but Guardiola will be bitterly disappointed at his side’s failure to trouble Arsenal, with substitute Jack Grealish on the end of some lengthy post-match advice from his manager.

City are back here at Etihad Stadium to face in-form Aston Villa on Wednesday night knowing they cannot afford any more slip-ups in this tight Premier League title pursuit.

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