The premier battle: Arsenal in City’s den

London, April 25

Arsenal are discovering the brutal reality about going toe to toe with Manchester City in the final stretch of a Premier League title race.

Perfection is pretty much essential. And at the moment, Arsenal are far from perfect.

Three straight draws — the most recent coming at home to Southampton, the league’s last-place team — has seen the long-time leaders lose the initiative, if not quite first place.

Arsenal’s credentials are being seriously questioned ahead of the ultimate test in English football and what many are billing a title decider: An away match against City.

“We really want it and we are going to show it again tomorrow night,” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said Tuesday, “but you have to deliver in the right moment the right performance, and it has to be perfection. Because that’s what this last level demands — absolute perfection.”

It’s something City are getting used to producing at this stage of the season. Just ask Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, whose team fell short of the title despite posting points totals of 97 (in 2018-19) and 92 (in 2021-22) while up against the City juggernaut.

In the first of those duels, City closed the league campaign with 14 straight victories to win the title by a point. Last season, the difference between the teams was also a point after City went their final 12 games unbeaten, winning 10 of them.

And Pep Guardiola’s team is at it again. Heading into tomorrow’s game at Etihad Stadium, City are on a 16-game unbeaten run in all competitions, taking 25 points from a possible 27 in the league in that period.

That Arsenal still hold a five-point lead is testament to their extraordinary, improbable start to the season. The team is young, though, and isn’t used to handling the pressure of a title race.

It’s why many view City as the favourites, considering their form, their two games in hand and their pedigree in these situations. — AP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *