Manchester City earned a crucial 3-1 win against title rivals Arsenal as the resurgent champions knocked the Gunners off the top of the Premier League on Wednesday.
Pep Guardiola’s side showed they are not ready to surrender the title with a ruthless display of finishing that lifted them above Arsenal on goal difference.
Kevin De Bruyne put City ahead in the first half at the Emirates Stadium and, although Bukayo Saka equalised with a controversial penalty, Jack Grealish landed the vital blow in the second half when he restored the visitors’ lead.
Erling Haaland’s 26th goal in 22 league appearances for City killed off Arsenal in the closing stages.
In the most eagerly anticipated Premier League clash this season, City seized the momentum in the title race.
Although Arsenal have a game in hand that could tip the balance back in their favour, City headed home with renewed belief they can win their fight for a fifth title in six seasons.
Having trailed Arsenal by eight points a month ago, Guardiola’s men have won four of their last five league games, while Arsenal have stumbled.
City’s title defence is taking place under a dark cloud after the Premier League last week charged the club with more than 100 breaches of its financial rules between 2009 and 2018.
But the race could yet reach a memorable climax, with City due to host Arsenal on April 26 in what is shaping up to be a do-or-die showdown for both teams.
Bidding for their first Premier League title since 2003-04, Arsenal were unable to subdue City’s battle-hardened stars.
Mikel Arteta’s team have failed to win their last four games in all competitions, losing to City in the FA Cup before a surprise defeat at Everton and Saturday’s draw against Brentford.
Arteta, who worked under Guardiola as assistant to the City boss before joining Arsenal, found out just how hard it is for the apprentice to outwit the teacher.
Guardiola has beaten Arteta in seven of their eight meetings and this was the most significant by far.
City took the lead in the 24th minute when Grealish harassed Takehiro Tomiyasu into a miscued backpass.