Man City moved 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League table after securing a late 2-1 win over Arsenal in dramatic circumstances at the Emirates today.
The Gunners began brightly and after nine minutes it looked like they would have the chance to take the lead when Ederson appeared to bring down Martin Odegaard in the area. However, referee Stuart Attwell waived away the home sides claims and VAR decided not to intervene.
Arsenal continued to pile the pressure on the league leaders and just after the half-hour mark the raucous home crowd would get what they craved. The hugely impressive Bukayo Saka sweeping home a Kieran Tierney pass from 12-yards out to give his side a deserved lead.
Man City had looked far from their free flowing best but in the 55th minute they would be awarded a penalty after Granit Xhaka was adjudged to have felled Bernardo in the box, and that’s when things began to reach boiling point.
Referee Attwell had initially decided against pointing to the spot, but unlike with the Odegaard incident VAR intervened and asked that the footage be reviewed on the pitch side monitor. After Attwell awarded the penalty, Riyad Mahrez duly stepped up and clinically fired home.
Just a few minutes later things would really start to unravel for the Gunners when in the space of a few seconds they saw Gabriel Martinelli miss an open goal at one end and centre-back Gabriel sent-off for for a second bookable offence, after the Brazilian hauled down fellow countryman Gabriel Jesus.
Enraged by the referee and officials, Arsenal lost their head somewhat before recovering and defending stoically to enter injury time with the scores level.
However, late heart break was in store for the home crowd when in the third minute of injury time Rodri poked home from eight yards out to hand City a controversial late victory.
Speaking afterwards City boss Guardiola admitted his side had not been at their best and that they benefitted from the big decisions in the game.
“Arsenal were better. We face a team that in recent years has struggled to be in the top four. They start tis season bottom, bottom, bottom. They have six days after beating Norwich, we have two days,” Guardiola told BT Sport.
”It was so tough for us to come back. We had no energy. They is why we pout one more player in the middle to get more control and passes. We know in transitions and physicality they have it can be difficult. And it was difficult.
”We tried and in one minute we have a penalty and then the red card. We try to analyse many things but sometimes the coin falls on your side. We know what it means to beat Arsenal here in this moment they are in. Now we have time to rest.
“We are not a team to score in 90 minutes or added time. I didn’t remember the last time. Maybe two or three years ago with Raheem against Southampton. We do not have this characteristic. But with 10 v 11 they change the system and it took mistakes to win the game.
When pushed on whether the Premier League is now a one-horse title race, Guardiola predictably down played such talk.
“It is unlikely as I have said before,” Pep replied. ”Eleven games in a row is great in this period. Look at our bench. We have four academy players. We had many cases of Covid this season and injuries. Phil Foden today. Today with Kyle Walker was first time on the bench since Covid testing.
”We were incredibly tired and they were better. But football has happened. Sometimes it comes in our side.”
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