By Femi Atolagbe
Substitute Gabriel Martinelli fired a last-gasp winner to earn Arsenal a 1-0 victory over Manchester City on Sunday, a result that moved Mikel Arteta’s side level on points with North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur at the top of the Premier League.
Arsenal came into the match having not beaten City in the league since 2015, a run of 15 games – their longest winless streak against a single opponent in league history.
Ending such a barren run looked unlikely as City had the better of the chances in the first half, with Arsenal’s Declan Rice clearing off the line to keep the champions at bay.
Arsenal did not have a single shot on target in the opening period, but upped the tempo after the break, even though City still created the better openings despite their Premier League top scorer Erling Haaland being kept quiet all afternoon.
The game appeared to be edging towards a stalemate before Martinelli struck four minutes from time, a deflection off City defender Nathan Ake taking the ball past keeper Ederson.
The goal sparked wild celebrations at the Emirates, as Arsenal moved above City into second place on 20 points, two above the champions, and trailing Spurs only on goals scored.
Arsenal were dealt a huge blow ahead of kickoff as it was confirmed the injured Bukayo Saka would miss a Premier League game for the first time since May 2021, ending a run of 87 consecutive appearances, the longest ongoing run in the competition.
Without the flying forward, Arsenal looked sluggish early on, with Croatian defender Josko Gvardiol denied by Rice’s intervention, while Julian Alvarez almost diverted Arsenal goalkeeper David Raya’s hesitant clearance into the net.
The crowd were doing their best to rouse a response from Arsenal, cheering every flying tackle with gusto and it seemed to help matters, with the hosts growing into the contest.
Promising openings fell flat, however, as Arsenal failed to have a shot on target in the opening half of a Premier League home game for the first time since March 2022.
Martinelli’s introduction livened things up, as he soon had the home side’s first effort on target in the match, a fierce strike straight at Ederson.
With the international break to follow, the life seemed to be sucked out of the game before Martinelli broke City hearts.
It was a timely strike, ensuring Arsenal are yet to lose a Premier League game this season, last going on a longer unbeaten run to start a campaign in 2007-08.