Manchester City on brink of title after Arsenal rocked by Brighton
LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP)— Manchester City are on the brink of winning the Premier League title after Arsenal crashed to a shock 3-0 defeat against Brighton on Sunday.
Mikel Arteta’s side were rocked by second half goals from Julio Enciso, Deniz Undav and Pervis Estupinan at the Emirates Stadium.
Second placed Arsenal trail City by four points and a defeat for the Gunners at Nottingham Forest on Saturday would hand Pep Guardiola’s men their fifth title in six years.
Fired by Ilkay Gundogan’s brace and Erling Haaland’s latest goal, City’s 3-0 win at Everton earlier on Sunday had moved them within touching distance of the title and Arsenal’s loss makes the silverware almost certain to remain in Manchester.
Even if Arsenal beat Forest, City will be champions for a third successive season if they defeat Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium in their next game on May 21.
City have three games to play, with the Chelsea clash followed by trips to Brighton and Brentford, while Arsenal have just a home match against Wolves after their trip to Forest.
While battle-tested City are powering towards the finish line, Arsenal’s young team have choked away their bid to win a first title since 2004.
Arsenal’s recent four-game winless run, including a 4-1 thrashing at City, allowed their rivals to seize top spot, an opportunity they have exploited in ruthless fashion.
Although Arsenal’s unexpected title challenge seems destined to fall short, it has still been a hugely encouraging season for the north Londoners after over a decade of underachievement.
There is no shame in coming second to a team of treble-chasing City’s class, although Arteta will be frustrated they failed to last the pace after leading the table for long periods.
Thrashed 5-1 at home by struggling Everton on Monday, Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton bounced back with a dynamic display that prayed on the anxiety coursing through Arsenal’s players and fans.
Brighton threatened on the counter early on as Aaron Ramsdale’s superb save repelled Enciso’s rising strike.
Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard had scored five goals in his last five games and he went close to a sixth with a stinging shot that whistled just wide.
The Gunners suffered a blow when Brazilian winger Gabriel Martinelli was forced off with an injury sustained after a tackle from Moises Caicedo.
Gabriel Jesus’s shot from a tight angle was turned away by Jason Steele, while Leandro Trossard almost netted against his old club when the Arsenal forward’s effort clipped the top of the bar.
Arsenal had scored three or more goals in each of their last six home league games, but they failed to make any headway against well-drilled Brighton.
Bukayo Saka and Odegaard went close late in the first half with a powerful drives that flashed narrowly wide.
Brighton landed their knockout blow in the 51st minute as Enciso made the breakthrough.
Estupinan’s initial cross was blocked but he knocked the rebound towards Enciso and he headed home while Arsenal appealed in vain for a foul on Jakub Kiwior.
Arteta sent on Reiss Nelson and the winger almost bagged an immediate equaliser as he rifled inches wide.
But Undav bagged Brighton’s second goal in the 86th minute as Trossard carelessly lost possession, allowing the forward to lift a deft lob over Ramsdale.
Estupinan sent Arsenal fans streaming to the exits deep into stoppage-time when he slotted home after Undav’s shot was parried by Ramsdale.