Was This The Defining Weekend Of The Premier League Title Race?

By Ian John
May 15, 2023

Have events in the Premier League this past weekend effectively decided the title race with two more games still to go for the top two?

It certainly looks that way after Manchester City increased their lead to four points, with a game in hand over the chasing Arsenal after results went very much the way of the Citizens this weekend.

Certainly, a look at the odds with bet365 Sport reveals the extent to which the bookies believe this weekend has shaken things up with bet365 now offering 1/500 on Manchester City retaining the title, while Arsenal are now an 80/1 shot.

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So what happened over the weekend that has seen the odds totally change in the Premier League?

And perhaps more to the point, how have Arsenal let what was at one point an eleven-point lead over Manchester City, slip away?

To begin with, let’s pick apart what happened this weekend.

Premier League Title Race

Sunday 14th May – 2pm

Everton v Manchester City

Heading into the weekend, Manchester City led the Premier League table by just one point, albeith with a game in hand, over Arsenal. The Citizens faced Everton at Goodison Park, a tricky opponent who despite their struggles this season did beat Arsenal 1-0 at home and in their last game had beaten Brighton 5-1 on the road to ease their relegation worries.

City had also come into this game on the back of an exhausting 1-1 draw with Real Madrid in the Champions League and so this game was being viewed as a potential banana-skin for City and after a nervy first half hour or so, that appeared to be a possibility.

However, a two-minute spell from he 37th to 39th minutes changed the game completely.

Ilkay Gundogan, who has been amongst the goals recently, produced a superb finish with his back to goal, flicking the ball past Jordan Pickford with the outside of his right foot from around six yards.

That goal appeared to knock the wind out of Everton and just a couple of minutes later, the Toffees were undone again.

Gundogan this time played the creators role, bursting from midfield to cross for Erling Haaland to leap and head home for his now customary goal. His 36th of the season in the Premier League.

In the second half, City took their foot off the gas a little but still extended their lead to 3-0 through a second for Gundogan and with Everton aware that their goal difference could see them drop below Leeds if City scored a couple more, as strange as it sounds, Everton seemed to accept a 3-0 defeat.

That win moved City four points clear of Arsenal both teams having played 35 games, but with the Gunners up next against Brighton at the Emirates.

Sunday 14th May – 4.30pm

Arsenal v Brighton

As news of City’s big win at Everton filtered through, Arsenal fans could not help but feel a little deflated at the news as they needed a favour from Everton, and probably another team too, in order to stand a chance of winning the title.

It also now meant that a home win against Brighton was the minimum requirement from this game.

In the first half, the Gunners showed plenty of promise going forward but never really created themselves a gilt-edged chance, but even so, 0-0 at half time wasn’t the end of the world with the Gunners looking capable of making the breakthrough against a well-disciplined and organised Brighton side.

However, in the second half Brighton stepped things up a gear and controlled the game, dominating possession and having three times as many shots on target as the home team could muster in the entire game.

The opening goal came on 51 minutes when Estupinan’s cross was headed home from close range by the impressive Enciso.

Desperate to level, Arsenal made a number of changes but could not break Brighton’s stranglehold on the game and then Leandro Trossard’s lazy pass is deflected into the path of Brighton sub Deniz Undav, with the German lofting a fine lob over Ramsdale and into the net.

Then late on, Arsenal’s demise was complete when Ramsdale could only parry a shot from Undav into the path of Estupinan who fired home from around 10 yards to give Brighton a convincing win.

At the end of the game Mikel Arteta apologised to Arsenal fans for his team’s second half performance today when he admitted that they were not good enough.

Those two results mean City now lead the Premier League by four points, plus they have a game in hand. Which essentially means City now need to win just one of their last three games to be confirmed as Champions, regardless of how Arsenal do in their last two games.

“Bottlers” Memes And Is It Justified?

Arsenal’s recent form has seen the Gunners accused of being ‘bottlers’ by a number of pundits, such as Gary Neville and Roy Keane, as well as fans of other teams.

In addition to the loss to Brighton, the Gunners have also been held by Southampton, Liverpool and West Ham in recent weeks, all while Manchester City have been on a long run of winning games.

However, it is not Arsenal ‘bottling’ the league so much as to their results against Manchester City which have been the issue.

Arsenal v Man City – A Real Problem For The Gunners

The Gunners have faced City three times this season, twice in the Premier League and once in the FA Cup. They have lost each time, 1-0 in the FA Cup and then suffered 3-1 and 4-1 defeats in the Premier League.

Had the Gunners won one of those Premier League games, then the table would be very different. City would still have a game in hand, but Arsenal would be two points clear on 84 points, while City would have 82.

Since Pep Guardiola took over at manager of Manchester City, Arsenal have won two and drawn one of the 19 games played between the two teams. Losing a staggering 16 games, including all the last eight.

Both those wins came in the FA Cup. The Gunners have not beaten Manchester City in the Premier League since December 2015. They have not picked up a point against Manchester City since 2nd April 2017.

It is statistics like that which need to change if Arsenal are to truly count themselves as a challenger to Manchester City.

In that same period of time, Chelsea have beaten Manchester City seven times, drawing 0 and losing 12 games. Spurs have won seven and drawn two against City in that period of time, losing seven.

Rivals Manchester United have also beaten City seven times since Pep took over, losing nine games and drawing two.

It is Liverpool that have the best record against City, winning 8, losing 7 and drawing five of the matches in that period.

This weekend did not really decide the title race, for me that occurred a while back when City defeated Arsenal 4-1 at the Etihad to claim their third win over Arsenal of the season.

And until Mikel Arteta can unlock the way to beat his former employers, Arsenal are always going to struggle to match up to City in a way that other City rivals have in the past.

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