By David Awopetu
Raheem Sterling scored the game’s only goal as runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City stretched their winning run to 18 games with a 1-0 victory at Arsenal.
Sterling leapt to meet a Riyad Mahrez cross with just two minutes on the clock and might have had a hat-trick during a strikingly mismatched opening period that suggested another emphatic afternoon’s work for Pep Guardiola’s side.
A second proved elusive but though Arsenal, whose European prospects take a blow, grew into the contest, they were unable to punish City’s second-half lethargy in attack and found Ruben Dias commanding again in defence.
Like other teams, they have had to deal with a congested fixture list as well Covid-19 cases within the club as the world continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic.
Guardiola said: “I’m surprised and impressed and so when everyone is suffering in this world, all the teams in the league are dropping points, we were consistent over the past two months and I did not expect that.
“People talk and talk about the record and the victories but to do this you have to win these types of games many, many times.
“It is not always about winning by three or four because that is not possible.”
City looked confident right from the outset at Arsenal, taking the lead with just two minutes on the clock as Raheem Sterling somehow managed to outjump Rob Holding to head in Riyad Mahrez’s cross.
The visitors had four shots to Arsenal’s none in the opening quarter of an hour and it looked as if the Gunners were in danger of being on the end of a heavy defeat as Guardiola’s side poured forward at every opportunity.
In the end, a second goal was not needed as City took the three points to ensure they stay in control at the top of the standings.
The Citizens remain 10 points clear of second-placed Leicester, whose own impressive run continued at Aston Villa, while Arsenal stay in mid-table, 11 points off fourth spot and six behind sixth-placed Liverpool.