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What Arsenal have in common with Gladbach – Man City grit their teeth

After 47 games, Manchester City’s record-breaking run came to an end on Easter Sunday. This was primarily due to Arsenal’s strong defensive work, which City coach Pep Guardiola also had to acknowledge

Soccer sometimes produces curious parallels. The latest example? Arsenal FC achieved a feat on Easter Sunday that only Crystal Palace, Manchester United and Borussia Mönchengladbach could previously claim.

What links this quartet, of all teams, has something to do with the suffering of Pep Guardiola. Arsenal’s 0-0 draw in the top match against Man City made them only the fourth team to keep a clean sheet in both the first and second legs of a season against a Guardiola-led team. The Foals achieved this in the 2014/15 season against Guardiola’s Bayern, city rivals United in the 2020/21 season against City and Crystal Palace in 2021/22, also in the two season duels with the Skyblues.

You even have to go back to a 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace in October 2021 to find a City home game in the Premier League in which Manchester did not score a goal of their own. Since then, 47 league home games had passed in which the reigning treble winners had scored at least once (club record). Then Arsenal came along and parked the team bus in front of their own box

Guardiola’s laugh and Guardiola’s praise

When asked at the subsequent press conference how to overcome a deep-lying team like the Gunners had been that afternoon, Guardiola initially responded with gallows humor: “Kill one. Then they have to play with nine men.”

But then the City coach turned serious and praised his opponents. Arsenal had defended “very well”. “When teams defend like that, it’s very difficult. They defended very deep and did it well. They have top players in defense and were perfectly compact.” One approach was: “Be patient and find the right, precise pass. “

However, ManCity rarely managed to do that. The home side had 72 percent possession – but only one shot that was actually on target. The Londoners’ central defense around Gabriel and William Saliba (Martin Ödegaard: “A brilliant player and a brilliant performance”) delivered a strong performance and also had Erling Haaland largely under control

Arsenal: Defensively “outstanding, lacking power on the counter-attack “

In the end, Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta won the chess match against his former master on the Sky Blues’ touchline with his chosen tactics. The Londoners had not shown inspiring soccer in the top match, but of course that was not the point for the Spaniard: “You want to win the game. So you prepare to win. If you can’t win, make sure you get a point. That’s what we did.”

He then alluded to the bitter 4-1 defeat at the Etihad in the second half of last season. “When we were here eleven months ago, it was a completely different story.” Today, his team delivered a “tough match” against a “very demanding opponent”. And: “Defensively, we were outstanding. “

The only thing Arteta was not entirely happy with was the way his team played out the counter-attacks. In the closing stages, Arsenal left a lot to chance in these situations. Kai Havertz remarked on Sky that the Gunners may have lacked a bit of strength. Nevertheless: “We can be happy with the point. Not conceding a goal here is very difficult.”

A point that will help Liverpool FC in particular. As the Reds had won against Brighton & Hove Albion in the afternoon (2:1), Jürgen Klopp’s team are now two points ahead of Arsenal at the top of the table – and title favorites, according to Guardiola. “The first team is always the favorite, then comes Arsenal, then us,” said the 53-year-old. “It’s not in our hands.”

Nevertheless, it remains exciting at the top of the Premier League. Only three points separate the top three teams – and that with nine games remaining for the leading trio.

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