A stoppage-time goal from midfielder Rodri gave Premier League leaders Man City a 2-1 win at Arsenal on New Year’s Day.
Arsenal’s early pressure looked to have paid dividends when playmaker Martin Odegaard was upended in the box by goalkeeper Ederson, but neither the referee nor VAR deemed the challenge worth of a penalty.
The Gunners eventually took a deserved lead in the 31st minute when Bukayo Saka finished a sweeping move by rifling home Kieran Tierney’s pass, and they closed out the first half without allowing City a single shot on target.
The visitors levelled from the spot though through Riyad Mahrez early in the second half when Granit Xhaka was adjudged to have fouled Bernardo Silva in the box after a VAR review.
Gabriel Martinelli missed a glorious chance to put Arsenal back in the lead moments later before Gabriel was sent off for his second yellow card.
Arsenal held their shape but they failed to deal with a high ball into the box in stoppage time and it fell to Rodri, who drilled it home to grab all three points with only their second effort on target in the game.
Saka and Partey both shine for Arsenal…
Ramsdale not impressed…
“Both penalties, I don’t know why the ref is told to see one & not the other. It is there for a reason, go & use it. It is the inconsistency.
“The whole point is to help the game out, in real time it didn’t look like one and slow it down on a screen & it’s given.”
Guardiola on VAR…
“I didn’t see the penalty [Odegaard incident] because they didn’t show it on the screen. They showed it on the screen for Bernardo, so Arsenal did it well.
“I could not see the potential penalty, so I cannot say.”
Pep Guardiola’s post-match thoughts…
“They were better. We faced a team that in the last years have struggled to be in the top four, and they started the season in the bottom, bottom, bottom.
“They are in the top four, they have six games after the last game. We had two days and a half, and Brentford was so tough.
“We didn’t have energy. It was difficult, we didn’t have energy. We tried, and in the second-half one minute changed it – the penalty, and almost the own-goal, and the sending-off. In football we try to analyse many things, but the coin sometimes falls down on your side, sometimes the other side. That is the reality.”
Rodri on key decisions…
On Silva penalty: “I have no doubt it was a penalty. First of all I didn’t know if there was contact, but I got close enough to the screen and for me it’s a clear penalty.”
On Odegaard incident: “Honestly I don’t know, I didn’t watch that on the screen.”
Rodri’s post-match thoughts…
“They’re an unbelievable team, they showed why they’re in this position. The work they’ve done with Mikel is massive. We know also they’ve rested more than us, they had six days to prepare, we had three games in one week. It’s tough.
“We struggled in the first half, but controlled it a little bit more in the second half. Sometimes it’s like this – the other team also plays. They did a great game, but fortunately we showed our champions’ personality to go again.”
What it means…
City are now 11 points clear at the top of the table, before Chelsea face Liverpool tomorrow. Safe to say they’re very much in pole position for another title.
For Arsenal, they’re in fourth and four points clear of West Ham. But David Moyes’ side can close that gap when they face Crystal Palace later today.
Heartbreak for Arsenal…
An absolutely breathless 90 minutes, and it ends with City making it 11 Premier League wins in a row. They really had to work for this one.
Saka put Arsenal in front in the first-half, but City scored twice after the break… either side of Gabriel’s red-card.
The Gunners can take plenty from their performance, but it’s a painful defeat after they display they produced.
90+5 mins: Can Arsenal do anything in the final minute of stoppage time? Silva booked for kicking the ball away.
Doesn’t look like the Gunners will have time to do anything about Rodri’s late strike.