Manchester City 0 Arsenal 0

Manchester City and Arsenal handed Liverpool the advantage in the Premier League title race as they played out a bitterly disappointing goalless stalemate at Etihad Stadium. Liverpool are now top of the table, two points clear of Arsenal and three ahead of City, after they came from behind to beat Brighton¬† at Anfield, their delight increased by their two closest rivals cancelling each other out. This was a game that made a nonsense of its billing as a potential classic, as Arsenal’s containing tactics snuffed out City while the Gunners had only limited chances of their own in a desperately poor affair.

Nathan Ake had an early close-range header saved by Arsenal keeper David Raya before going off injured while former City striker Gabriel Jesus posed an occasional threat, just failing to connect with Bukayo Saka’s cross inches from goal after the break. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will be happier than City counterpart Pep Guardiola with this outcome – but the real winners were Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool. Arsenal arrived at Manchester City with a point to make and a chance to show their improvement at a ground where they have had a miserable record in the past. The Gunners last won here in January 2015, drawing one and losing eight of their subsequent nine visits before this game.

Here, Arteta set his side out to be fiercely drilled and well-organised to frustrate, a strategy seemingly designed to earn the point they secured rather than risk more for victory. It was a conservative approach but what it did demonstrate was that Arsenal do have more resilience and character than on previous occasions, when they have sometimes capitulated under City’s attacking assault. Arteta’s side were composed but also willing to throw bodies on the line when danger threatened, not that they were ever in serious peril of conceding – a tribute to their display in itself. They have kept clean sheets in both games against Manchester City this season, making them only the fourth team to shut out a Guardiola side twice in the same season. Whether this is one point gained or two lost remains to be seen, but Arteta seemed satisfied enough at the final whistle.

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