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Premier League 2021/22: Manchester City move 11 points ahead of Chelsea after 2-1 win over Arsenal

Defenders of the title Manchester City are now 11 points clear of pursuers Chelsea, and at the halfway point of the season, it is safe to say they are most likely to bag some Premier League silverware for the second time in a row. The Blues awarded their fans the perfect start to the new year, as they won 2-1 against Arsenal on New Year’s Day. However, the match did not go without the usual drama and controversy.

To begin with, Arsenal, who are placed fourth in the Premier League table with 35 points, were without a manager (isolating after a positive COVID-19 test), but that didn’t stop them from challenging the visitors. Many expected Arsenal to hold out for a draw after Bukayo Saka’s brilliant goal. However, Manchester City’s Rodri’s shot managed to find the back of the net in the 93rd minute, doubling the Blues’ score.

As usual, VAR played a heavy and very controversial role in the game, citing two major incidents. In the first half, Arsenal claimed a penalty after Martin Odegaard went down in the box due to City goalkeeper Ederson, but VAR ruled it out, much to the fans’ and teams’ dismay. However, former referee Peter Walton believes Attwell was spot on in not awarding the Gunners the penalty. A conclusive decision could not be reached, and therefore, Jarred carried on with the on-field decision. And since Ederson, one of Premier League’s Greatest Goalkeepers according to Sportingbet, got part of the ball, awarding a penalty did not make sense.

Although Arsenal did manage to score the first goal of the game, it was, unfortunately, the only one.

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In the 57th minute, Manchester City managed to equalize from a penalty. Gabriel was handed a red card and sent off the field, and the game’s dynamic turned around for the Gunners. VAR was also consulted for this penalty and asked referee Attwell to review his decision after Granit Xhaka grabbed Bernardo Silva’s shirt. However, it was Gabriel who was booked for trying to scuff up the spot. The Brazilian defender then received a second yellow card, after which he was dismissed, for fouling Gabriel Jesus on the halfway line.

Despite Manchester City’s win, Pep Guardiola revealed he was relieved to get through such a tough fixture and went on to admit Arsenal was the better team during the game.

“Arsenal were better,” the City boss confessed. “They have six days after beating Norwich; we have two days. It was so tough for us to come back.

“We had no energy. This is why we put one more player in the middle to get more control and passes.

“We know in transitions and the physicality they have it can be difficult. And it was difficult.”

“We tried, and in one minute, we have a penalty and then the red card,” Guardiola added. “We try to analyse many things, but sometimes the coin falls on your side.

“We are not a team to score in 90 minutes or added time. I didn’t remember the last time.

“We do not have this characteristic. But with 10 v 11, they change the system and it took mistakes to win the game.

“In the first half, there was a controversial moment when Arsenal felt they should have been awarded a spot-kick of their own when Ederson looked to have fouled Martin Odegaard but the officials were unmoved – a decision that further infuriated the home side following the later decision to penalise Xhaka.”