City get the better of Arsenal
MANCHESTER, England (AP):
Raheem Sterling capped a rousing second-half comeback by Manchester City with the winning goal as Arsenal squandered a lead to lose 2-1 for the second time in five days in the English Premier League on yesterday.
The England winger collected Kevin De Bruyne's sensational cross-field pass before cutting inside and driving home a low finish in the 71st minute at Etihad Stadium.
Arsenal led through Theo Walcott's fifth-minute strike - another goal that raised questions about City's defensive frailties - before Leroy Sane equalised in the 47th with his first goal for City.
While City moved back to within seven points of first-place Chelsea, Arsenal dropped nine points off the leaders at the end of a week in which Arsene Wenger's team also lost after being 1-0 up at Everton on Tuesday.
"We were caught cold in the second half and we dropped physically," Wenger said.
City have reacted to a 4-2 loss at Leicester last weekend, which led to fierce criticism of coach Pep Guardiola's tactics, with two wins this week to revive the team's title challenge.
Guardiola's side dominated the second half after playing it without a recognised striker, with Raheem Sterling - a winger who was up front in the first half - was sent out to the right flank.
With Fernandinho back from a three-match suspension next week against Hull, Sergio Aguero only banned for one more game and Brazil striker Gabriel Jesus joining in January, things are looking up for City again.
"The victories give a lot of confidence in the mind of the players in what we are trying to do," Guardiola said. "I am so happy for the fans. They stayed until the 94th minute, normally they go with 10 minutes left."
What will concern Guardiola, though, was the manner in which his defence was opened by Arsenal for Walcott's goal.
Hector Bellerin was allowed to power up the field unchallenged from right back and pass the ball to Sanchez, who had dropped deep to also find space between City defence and midfield. Sanchez's reverse pass located Walcott between two defenders and the winger composed himself before slipping a low shot past goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
Guardiola decided not to play John Stones for the second straight game, preferring Nicolas Otamendi and Aleksandar Kolarov at centre back; and City were often too open in defence, while their build-up play was slow from the central midfield in the first half.
It was a different story after half-time, with Arsenal unable to pick up City's floating midfielders.
One of them, Silva, clipped a first-time pass over the top for Sane - who may have been slightly offside - to race clear and sidefoot home for a first goal in his 13th appearance for City.
Sane was denied in a one-on-one opportunity by Petr Cech, who tipped aside De Bruyne's deflected shot. De Bruyne was growing in influence and it was his stunning pass that set up the winner.
Guardiola praised the "quality and the vision from Kevin to make an exceptional pass.
"Seven points is still a huge distance from a team who made 11 wins in a row," Guardiola said, referring to Chelsea. "(We need to) be there as much as possible and wait for the opponent to fail."