MANCHESTER, ENGLAND — When we know for sure that Arsenal are all over. After about 370 seconds of games billed over the course of the week, there was still credibility.
Even a sliver of optimism may have endured after John Stones scored the second delivered in satellite delay after a video review just before halftime. , it’s time for intellectual gymnastics and leaps of faith. After all, it’s time for the “what if, then and maybe” soccer loosely calls the “permutation”. Maybe a draw would be fine. Maybe a draw will keep hope alive.
But the third goal was different. After the third, Arsenal’s Rob Holding stood with his hands on his hips, staring into the mid-range. Gabriel Magalaes sank his rump as if contemplating the nature of the grass. Thomas Partey used his reflexes to encourage his teammates and began clapping quietly. He managed two, lost his mind and stopped.
The third goal, changed by Kevin De Bruyne, robbed Arsenal of any hope left and not only wiped them out, but erased their memory from the earth and prevented them from ever coming back. I salted the ground to. It was hard to believe there was hope when Erling Haaland, with his hair flowing back, won his 4–1 victory.
Arsenal, of course, remain top of the Premier League, two points ahead of Manchester City, but have two more games to play. Team coach Mikel Arteta isn’t ready to give up anything yet. “I’ve been in this country for 22 years,” he said. The habit of.
There are no guarantees in sports. But common sense and recent experience tell us that two points at the end of the season won’t be enough for him to last until late May. Arteta and Arsenal didn’t just lose to Manchester City on Wednesday night. They were deprived of more than they hoped for. Wild fantasies that this might end with their first Premier League title in almost 20 years have been debunked as illusions.
Naturally, Arsenal’s trends inside and out go on to suggest that Arteta and his team have brought this all on their own. Things would have been different if the leads we had hadn’t been eroded.
Arsenal scored two goals at Liverpool to draw. A two-goal draw at West Ham. Relegation contenders Southampton pulled two goals behind him at the Emirates in an emotional come-from-behind draw. At a time of season when the pressure builds and great players move away from mere good players, it makes sense that Arsenal have found themselves short.
A more sympathetic observer would point to different mitigation situations. Arsenal’s team is the youngest in the league and is ahead of its expected development.The team is missing defensive lynchpin William Saliba. His absence proves that Arteta does not yet have the resources to maintain the course.
But it’s all about embracing the illusion, falling into the trap of believing that there will be another conclusion to the conclusion that will unfold in the coming weeks, indulging in the illusion that Arsenal can be anyone. Realistically, I’ve never done enough to see Manchester City off.
Manchester City are not only the best team in the Premier League, as they proved pretty decently against a team that was perceived as their main rival from the beginning of the season. The greatest gap in the Premier League is so wide, so clear and so deep that, for all intents and purposes, it cannot be bridged.
There are basically three ways of thinking about how that was achieved. Some say City’s hegemony is rooted in the undeniable brilliance of Pep Guardiola’s coaching and the club’s near-perfect recruiting.
Another, less kind, mostly by spending $1 billion give or take on some of the best players in the world and building teams that are less deep but very highly graded than their rivals. None of them can compete. (City signed then-England mainstay Calvin Phillips last summer. In case you forgot.)
The third, and most egregious, points out that the club is currently under investigation by the Premier League for 115 competition financial rule violations, all of which have been vigorously and repeatedly denied by City. but it can still stain everything. He is one of the achievements of the last decade.
Whatever the cause, the result is clear. Guardiola’s side are now looking to win his fifth Premier League title in six years and a third consecutive win. Only Manchester United have done it. Manchester United are the only English team to have achieved his hallowed treble of league, FA Cup and Champions League. City can do both in one season.
Undoubtedly, the preeminent force of its time. A blend of wealth, power and intelligence — what former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger once described as “gasoline and ideas” — has swept away all enemies. Manchester United have been unable to keep up with three managers and hundreds of millions of dollars in funding. Tottenham and Chelsea imploded. Liverpool stayed on course for five years before being crumpled.
But more than that, City’s dominance has changed the Premier League’s algorithm. Even in United’s heyday, the league always boasted of being more open and democratic than the lofty and powerful personal fiefdoms such as Germany’s Bundesliga and France’s Ligue 1. Manchester City exposed it as a fantasy. The Premier League is no longer a team-winning competition. What Manchester City will lose.
The idea that the callous and naive Arsenal might have stood in its way was, after all, nothing but an illusion. Arteta’s team, as he struggled to emphasize, led the league for “nine and a half months”, matching and even surpassing the stride of “good teams” for a while. there was.
But when Arsenal stumbled and City stumbled, the point always came when it hit the wall. That’s the fate that befell everyone else. There was no reason to believe Arsenal would be an exception. In many ways, it’s to Arteta and his players that it took so long, until the end of April, for Fantasy to collapse.
But a cold reality dawns under the lights of the Etihad. Games, title challenges, dreams, it’s all over. By the time Haaland scored his fourth goal, he would even be out of pain. As usual, it simply was.