Rampant Manchester City demolish Arsenal 6-3
Manuel Pellegrini’s side maintain their free-scoring home form to open up the title race, while Chelsea also pile on the pressure with win over Palace
Manchester City produced another fearsome attacking display to overpower Arsenal 6-3 in a wild Premier League shootout on Saturday, leaving the leaders in range of the chasing pack.
Prolific strikers Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo scored first-half goals, while Fernandinho netted twice and David Silva and Yaya Toure added others after the break to keep up free-scoring City's average of four goals per league game at Etihad Stadium this season.
Theo Walcott scored twice for Arsenal, the first to make it 1-1 in the 31st minute and then to cut City's lead to 3-2 in the 63rd, but the visitors were dismantled by City, favoured for the title by many pundits.
Per Mertesacker was the other scorer for Arsenal, who suffered their third defeat of the campaign and whose lead at the top of the table was cut to two points after Chelsea snuck a 2-1 win at home to Crystal Palace.
Everton also kept their noses in the title-race trough with a 4-1 win at home to Fulham moving them fourth, while at the bottom of the table West Ham United and Sunderland played out a 0-0 draw that was of little use to either side.
Cardiff City beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0, while Newcastle United and Southampton drew 1-1.
Manchester City are now three points behind Arsene Wenger's side. Fifth-placed Liverpool can move back into second if they beat sixth-placed Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
It was always going to be a testing afternoon for Arsenal, coming less than three days after a gruelling Champions League match at Napoli and given City's flawless record at the Etihad in seven previous matches at the Premier League.
And so it proved, with City - whose first-choice players were rested in Wednesday's shock 3-2 win at Bayern Munich in the Champions League - sharper in possession and off the ball and simply irresistible going forward. Manuel Pellegrini's team have scored 35 goals in eight home matches this campaign, putting at least four past Manchester United, Tottenham and now Arsenal.
With their away form slowly improving, City appear to be the team to beat in what is proving to be an open, exciting title race. The only negative was the sight of Aguero hobbling off with what appeared a right calf injury at the start of the second half.
"At times the tempo was frightening," City captain Vincent Kompany said. "We looked to be in control of the game for most of it. There were no standout individual performances but collectively we've done incredibly well.
"I don't know so much about messages. The biggest message is if we beat Fulham next. It is a real fortress here."
As for Arsenal, this was their third high-intensity match in the space of seven days, having drawn with Everton last weekend, and it clearly took its toll. Thankfully for the creaking leaders, they have a much-needed nine-day break before playing Chelsea next.
"Our strength until now was our defensive discipline and that went as the game went on," said Wenger, who refused to use the short turnaround from the Napoli game as an excuse.
"It was 6-3 but what hurts me more is that we had an opportunity to put Man City at nine points [behind]. It's three tonight and that's difficult to swallow."
To add to Arsenal's misery, midfielder Jack Wilshere is likely to face disciplinary action after being pictured raising his middle finger towards City's fans. Television cameras spotted the England international making the gesture in the 69th minute, when Arsenal were down 4-2.
Liverpool striker Luis Suarez received a one-match ban for the same offence during a league game at Fulham in December 2011.
Wenger said he didn't see Wilshere's gesture but added: "If he did it, we will have to accept it."
Associated Press, Reuters