Liverpool teach Arsenal lesson about true Premier League title credentials after Man City humiliation
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It was billed pre-match as a mouth-watering game between English football's two strongest teams to decide the destination of the Premier League title.
Yes, the Gunners are still two points clear at the top of the table. But even the most optimistic of Arsenal supporters must feel that the title is now out of reach.
Pep Guardiola's side have two games in hand and a far better goal difference, should the title race come down to those fine margins. It won't.
This was a reality check for Arsenal, who were blown away by a magnificent first-half performance from the home side, who have now won seven consecutive matches in the Premier League and are unbeaten in their last 17 games in all competitions.
City look set to win their third consecutive league title and fifth in six seasons. Only the brilliant Liverpool team of 2019-20 have been able to disrupt their dominance of English football in recent years, with Jurgen Klopp's side made to produce near-perfection to break the sky-blue hegemony.
In the 2018-19 campaign, Liverpool lost just one league match – a 2-1 defeat away at City, who would go on win the title by a single point after a relentless run of victories in the final months.
That match at the Etihad, in which John Stones' goalline clearance proved to be crucial, is viewed by many as the highest-quality game in the history of the Premier League. Two world-class teams at their absolute best.
While Liverpool failed to win that day, they made a statement with their performance – that they were good enough to compete with, and maybe beat, Guardiola's City over the course of a season.
And so it proved, with the Reds charging to the title the following campaign, winning it with seven games to spare – a Premier League record.
Arsenal had their own opportunity to make a statement at the Etihad on Wednesday but crumbled under the pressure.
It was one-way traffic for most of the match, with the Gunners unable to deal with Kevin De Bruyne at his brilliant best and a rampaging Erling Haaland.
Aaron Ramsdale kept some respectability to the 4-1 scoreline, which flattered the visitors, and questions must now be asked about the mental strength of Mikel Arteta's young team after a run of four league games without a win.
When Liverpool missed out on the title in 2018-19, they had little time to dwell on the disappointment, beating Tottenham in the Champions League final a few weeks later. Being crowned European champions for a sixth time is certainly some consolation prize.
Arsenal have no European final to look forward to and will have all summer to think of what might have been, should they fail to win the title.
Will they get a better chance under Arteta? Only time will tell.