Manchester City vs. Arsenal score: Premier League contenders draw as Liverpool remain at the top

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The most anticipated match of the Premier League weekend ended in a scoreless draw on Sunday, as neither Manchester City nor Arsenal could find a go-ahead goal that would have boosted each side's chances to lift the title come May.

City were the dominant side throughout in a match that felt like a showcase of two game plans -- one in which possession and passing were key, and Arsenal's strategy to absorb pressure and have their chances on the counterattack. Neither plan really did come off, though, as the Gunners' defensive resolve remained intact throughout the game despite Pep Guardiola exhausting his attacking options, which included Erling Haaland and Kevin de Bruyne. Arsenal, meanwhile, did little to carve out a productive approach outside of their successful defending and lacked quality chances when they did have their opportunities.

Both sides got particularly close in the final minutes of the match, when Haaland seemed like he was bound to score in the 81st minute when he had the ball around the near post but failed to get the shot off. A couple of minutes later, Arsenal's best counterattack of the game saw Leandro Trossard's shot stopped by City goalkeeper Stefan Ortega.

The result leaves Arsenal in second place, City in third and Liverpool in top spot after their win earlier on Sunday.

Don't miss CBS Sports Golazo Network's Morning Footy, now in podcast form! Our crew brings you all the news, views, highlights and laughs you need to follow the Beautiful Game in every corner of the globe, every Monday-Friday all year long.

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FT: Manchester City 0, Arsenal 0

It was not for a lack of trying on City's part but this one ends scoreless, which is very good news for Liverpool, who occupy top spot. Here's a look at the top three at the end of the weekend.

  1. Liverpool, 67 points (+40 goal difference)
  2. Arsenal, 65 points (+46 goal difference)
  3. Manchester City, 64 points (+35 goal difference)
 
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Arsenal on the counter

85' Arsenal muster up a nice counterattacking sequence that sees Martinelli and Trossard connect. The latter takes a shot from a little bit of distance that's quite promising, but Ortega is up for the task and makes the save on Arsenal's first shot of the second half.

 
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Another big chance for City

83' De Bruyne delivers a well-taken freekick yards from the penalty area, which Gvardiol gets a touch on before the ball lands near Haaland's feet. Considering both Haaland's reputation and his position around the near post, this feels like City's big moment, but he mismanages it and can't even get the shot off.

 
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City close

77' City were perhaps as close as they've gotten all day long when it felt like the net was empty enough for a City player to score if he got the ball, but that's the thing - Arsenal's defensive efforts were strong enough to make sure a crucial pass wouldn't find its target. The hosts do little with a subsequent corner and a few minutes later, Doku cannot muster much with a poorly taken shot in the box.

Meanwhile, Arteta has lined up another sub for Arsenal - Martinelli's on, Saka's off.

 
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A game of pinball

71' City continue to do the things they have been doing all day and yet, as they get closer to the final third, an impressive passing and possession game begins to resemble a game of pinball. City players attempt to make passes and take shots in the penalty area, only for Arsenal players to deflect one ball after the next. Both sides are still limited to just one shot on target, both in the first hafl.

Meanwhile, Arsenal bring on Trossard for Jesus in an effort to give their attack some new life.

 
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Double sub for Arsenal

65' Tomiyasu and Partey are on for Kiwior and Jorginho, giving Arsenal a new look deeper on the pitch as City maintain a sustained period of pressure.

 
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City go for attacking subs

61' Grealish and Doku come on for Foden and Kovacic, clearly a sign of intent that City are eager to change things up in attack. This second half is playing out a bit like the first so far - City are dominant yet again and have the stats to back it up, but have had just two shots so far since the break.

 
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Jesus is having a very weird one

At half time Jesus had Arsenal's most touches and fewest completed passes. He was covering for Kiwior at left back while also getting his side's best shooting chances... and he has just spurned another by failing to pick a side of Akanji to attack when Saka drove the ball across goal.

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A great deal of this might be a function of what City are forcing Arsenal to do but it's weird.

March 31, 2024, 4:43 PM
Mar. 31, 2024, 12:43 pm EDT
 
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Big chances

54' Both City and Arsenal might already be making up for lost time after a first half that lacked meaningful chances. Kovacic got quite close to scoring for City in the opening minutes of the second half, while Saka just did the same for Arsenal. Everything seems more intense this second half, including Arsenal's press and everyone's emotions - the referee just tried to calm things down after a slightly tense moment between the two teams.

 
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Second half underway

We'll see if the game state changes much with 45 minutes and stoppage time left to go. The same personnel that ended the first half starts the second half, though City already used a sub when Ake came off in the first half.

 
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A half time change?

Takehiro Tomiyasu was warming up separately from the rest of the substitutes at half time and stayed out a little longer. Are we about to see him enter the fray? If so you'd have to assume that it'd be for Jakub Kiwior, who has grown into this game but did really struggle early on. Perhaps that's just the nature of the beast for the Pole, who has had 55 minutes against Liverpool as his only real experience of facing opposition on Arsenal's level since he arrived just over 14 months ago.

March 31, 2024, 4:24 PM
Mar. 31, 2024, 12:24 pm EDT
 
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Scoreless at the half

City have performed in stellar fashion in several categories - 71.6% possession, 427 touches to Arsenal's 196, 318 passes attempted to the visitors' 100, and a passing accuracy of 91.6% that very much is ahead of the Gunners' 74.6%. The one thing we're missing? Goals, since meaningful chances have been few and far between for both sides.

 
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All City, (nearly) all the time

44' City seem to be getting everything right - they're fully in charge in terms of possession, are very comfortable on the ball and are outdoing Arsenal in terms of passes. They've been a little slow to get quality shots on, though, with just one early effort on target. They recently had two more off-target shots, including one that started with a de Bruyne freekick yards from goal, which makes each time Arsenal claw their way towards goal all the more dangerous.

The visitors are doing a little better in terms of offensive output - four shots, one on target - but it really gives the feeling that this one might be decided by a tight margin.

 
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Arsenal inching their way back

This is getting better for the visitors, who have enjoyed a fair bit of success breaking down the right, particularly through White. Twice Jesus has wriggled his way out of traffic, back into it then out again before getting shots away. They might have had relatively little possession but the shots have been theirs, four to one.

March 31, 2024, 4:06 PM
Mar. 31, 2024, 12:06 pm EDT
 
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Ake comes off

27' Ake comes off for Lewis, adding to City's injury crisis in the back - Guardiola's already missing Ederson and Walker, while Stones is on the bench after picking up an injury during England's friendly a few days ago.

 
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Kovacic in the mood

Arsenal's commitment to press on the rare occasions City are forced back down the pitch has been striking but it just isn't working. In no small part that's down to Kovacic, always the free man, easing City up the field when Arsenal press, always the man ready to take the pass when a team mate finds his route to goal blocked off. After 16 minutes he has 22 of 23 passes completed, 100% completion in the final third. 

March 31, 2024, 3:52 PM
Mar. 31, 2024, 11:52 am EDT
 
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City dictating the tempo

16' It's still the early stages, but City are the dominant ones so far with over 60% of possession. They've spent a nice chunk of time in Arsenal's half, too, and created promising plays that have fizzled out but got as close as they have today when Ake tried to score off a corner, but Raya handled the ball with relative ease.

 
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Jesus strikes

7' This one has started off on a mild note but both sides have had their forward runs. The best chance so far just came from Jesus, who made his way into the box but sent the ball just wide of the goal, which was the first shot of the game.

 
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Let the game begin

At long last, the most anticipated match of the weekend is finally underway. Time to find out how consequential this one will actually be.

 
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Rooting interest

Liverpool's win means each result at the end of today's match dramatically alters the chances for them, City and Arsenal to lift the title. Here's a look at the updated odds for each team to win the Premier League after the Reds got the job done earlier today.

 
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The table as it stands

Despite a late flurry of chances from Brighton, Liverpool's second half efforts were enough for them to pick up a 2-1 win and rise to top spot in the Premier League once again. Here's a look at the top three shortly before kickoff at the Etihad.

  1. Liverpool, 67 points (+40 goal difference)
  2. Arsenal, 64 points (+46 goal difference)
  3. Manchester City, 63 points (+35 goal difference)

That means Arsenal need a win at City to recapture top spot today, while City can only go as high as second place with a win. With nine games to go after today, though, everyone's still within touching distance of the title regardless of how today shakes out.

 
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Lineups look promising for Arsenal

So often in recent years I've turned up at the Etihad -- which is much, much too nippy for Easter Sunday -- with a hobbled Arsenal XI in tow. Last season it was the absence of Saliba, in the years before transfer business had either only just been concluded or was not yet done. Maybe you could argue that Martinelli's confinement to the bench means the Gunners are not quite at the peak of their powers today but to have only one of their regular side missing is not to be sniffed at come this stage of the season.

Usually it's City who hit their peak in the spring and any team coached by Pep Guardiola have the potential to perform well above their collective level. But this is a team missing three-fifths of a top tier defense, crucial figures at that in Stones, Ederson and Walker. For once it feels like they are the ones fighting an uphill battle in a pivotal game.

March 31, 2024, 2:42 PM
Mar. 31, 2024, 10:42 am EDT
 
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Team news is in

As expected, City will start the match without Walker and Stones but the latter makes a surprise appearance on the bench. Arsenal, meanwhile, have the benefit of being able to start Saka, for whom a minor muscle injury that kept him out of last week's England games might be a thing of the past. Here's a look at both teams' lineups.

Manchester City starting XI: Ortega, Akanji, Dias, Ake, Gvardiol, Rodri, Silva, de Bruyne, Kovacic, Foden, Haaland

Arsenal starting XI: Raya, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior, Odegaard, Jorginho, Rice, Saka, Havertz, Jesus

 
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Contrasting mentalities

There's no doubt that both Manchester City and Arsenal are incredibly talented teams with reasonable claims as the Premier League's best, but despite the ease in grouping them together, they arguably come into this game with very different mindsets -- and experiences behind them.

Geoff Shreeves discusses that contrast on Morning Footy as Arsenal look to disrupt City's seemingly unassailable dominance in the Premier League.

  • Shreeves: "Arsenal are the only team to have won one of those games [between them, Manchester City and Liverpool], but that doesn't necessarily mean that they'll win the title. ... If Arsenal win, I think they will come away from the Etihad believing they are going to win the title. I think they will really believe that they will win it. Doesn't mean they will but I think they will believe they will win the title if they can win at the Etihad.

    "If Manchester City win, it's slightly different because it's business as usual, isn't it? We've seen this how often? This is the time of year when Pep [Guardiola] puts on the burners. This is when they slip into turbo mode so I think they will feel, 'That's a big, big game ticked off for us.'"
 
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The other game with big implications

Before City and Arsenal get underway at the Etihad, Liverpool have a chance to stake their claim over top spot. The Reds are currently 1-1 with Brighton at halftime, leveling the score after conceding just 90 seconds into the match.

If current results hold, Liverpool go top of the table with 65 points, while Arsenal are in second with 64 and City sit third with 63. Klopp's team have been dominant despite the scoreline, though - they have 57.5% possession, 14 shots to Brighton's three, and 1.06 expected goals to the opponent's 0.18. With another half to go and first place potentially available to them, expect Liverpool to go for it in the second 45 and keep the pressure going in this uber-competitive title race.

 
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Managing injuries

This might be one of the most anticipated matchups of the season, but it's very possible that neither Manchester City nor Arsenal come to the game at full strength. City will be without defenders Stones and Walker, while Arsenal have played their cards close to their chest on the status of Saka and Martinelli, among others.

Here's more from James Benge on how today's big game could be defined by each squad's depth -- or lack thereof.

  • Benge: "Take two or three out and Pep Guardiola's insistence on running a small squad, sometimes with only one player who can perform the particular role he requires, can become a vulnerability. There is no one quite as effective as [John] Stones in the City squad, perhaps in the sport, at stepping out from center back to form a double pivot. In general, when the England international has been sidelined -- as he has frequently this season -- it has been [Manuel] Akanji who has stepped out from the back alongside Ruben Dias, solidly if not quite as effectively. Take both them out and there isn't really a right sided center back who can do that role.

    The absence of [Kyle] Walker might be just as profound though that really depends on Arsenal's situation too. Mikel Arteta is sweating on the fitness of three key players: Gabriel, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli. The latter, the match winner when these sides met at the Emirates Stadium in October, might be the player whose absence is most keenly felt, particularly if the Gunners are facing off against a Walker-less City."
 
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Hello and welcome!

The Premier League's most competitive title race in recent years takes center stage today, when Manchester City host Arsenal in what could be one of the most exciting and decisive matches of the season. Stick around as we build up to the weekend's biggest fixture, followed by team news and updates from the big game itself.

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