England (AP) — No Erling Haaland, no problem for Manchester City.
Even without the Premier League’s leading scorer, Pep Guardiola’s team came from behind to rout Liverpool 4-1 on Saturday and stay in pursuit of first-place Arsenal.
Haaland, who has scored 42 goals in all competitions this season, was ruled out of the game at Etihad Stadium after failing to recover from a groin injury.
But even after falling behind to a 20th-minute strike from Mohamed Salah, City powered back with goals from Julian Alvarez, Kevin de Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan and Jack Grealish to keep the pressure on Arsenal and deliver another blow to Liverpool’s Champions League qualification hopes.
City’s dominance was so complete that by the end Jurgen Klopp said the result could have been even worse for his team.
“We just had to follow as they did whatever they wanted,” the Liverpool manager said. “We were lucky they weren’t in a greedy mood.”
The game represented one of the biggest remaining tests in City’s league campaign and defeat would have given Arsenal the chance to extend its lead at the top to 11 points.
That looked like a real possibility when Liverpool scored against the run of play early on, with Diogo Jota bursting past City’s high defensive line and laying off to Salah to sweep a shot into the corner.
But City evened the score when Alvarez, Argentina’s World Cup winning striker, converted Grealish’s cross in the 27th.
Liverpool had no answer to City’s attacking quality in the second half, with De Bruyne poking home a cross from Riyad Mahrez less than a minute after the restart.
Gundogan added a third from close range in the 54th, and Grealish got a deserved goal to round off the scoring in the 74th.
It was Guardiola’s 100th home win in the league with City in 128 games at Etihad Stadium. He is the quickest manager to achieve that feat, beating Arsene Wenger’s record of reaching that total in 139 games.
“Our display was almost perfect from the first minute to minute 93 in the way we played against a team, our big rival in the last seasons,” Guardiola said.
The win moved City to within five points of Arsenal before the Londoners’ game against Leeds later in the day.
Liverpool remains seven points off fourth-place Tottenham and still hasn’t won a league match at Etihad Stadium since 2015.
Klopp’s team has now lost three straight games since routing Manchester United 7-0 last month.
“In the end, we had moments but in general how we lost everything, unacceptable,” Klopp said.
The Liverpool manager said “four-ish” of his players “had an OK game, and the rest were somewhere I don’t know.”
Gabriel Jesus ends drought
Gabriel Jesus ended a six-month scoring drought by netting twice as Premier League leader Arsenal beat Leeds 4-1 on Saturday to maintain some breathing space atop the standings.
Jesus converted a first-half penalty for his first goal since Oct. 1 to give Arsenal the lead, and then made it 3-0 with a simple finish from close range in the 55th. The Brazilian striker had played 17 games for club and country without a goal, a stretch that was also interrupted by a lengthy spell on the sidelines after being injured at the World Cup.
“I want to score every game,” Jesus said. “But sometimes it can’t happen. I am more happy with the three points than the goals.”
Ben White added the second goal shortly after the halftime break and Granit Xhaka headed in a late fourth as Arsenal maintained an eight-point gap over defending champion Manchester City, which has a game in hand.
Leeds pulled a goal back with a deflected shot by Rasmus Kristensen to make it 3-1 in the 76th, but the loss leaves the visitors just a point above the relegation zone.
After City battered Liverpool 4-1 in the early game, Arsenal was under pressure to respond but nearly went behind inside 10 seconds for the second time in its last three home league games. Leeds almost replicated Bournemouth’s feat of scoring straight from the kickoff at the Emirates with a quick attack down the right flank, but Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale kept out Kristensen’s shot that time.
Bukayo Saka was on the bench for Arsenal for the first time in the league since December 2021 because of a minor illness, and the Gunners’ attack seemed to lack its normal fluidity for the opening 30 minutes — although Jesus wasted a great chance in the 11th when he headed over the bar from six yards out. Instead it was Ramsdale that had saves to make as he had to deny Crysencio Summerville and Jack Harrison in quick succession shortly after the half-hour mark.
But Arsenal went ahead after Luke Ayling tripped Jesus in the area and the Brazilian converted the spot kick by sending Illan Meslier the wrong way and slotting his shot down the middle.
It was all Arsenal in the second half, as White was on hand at the far post to steer in a low cross from Gabriel Martinelli in the 47th to double the lead.
Jesus then played a neat interchange with Leandro Trossard, who broke into the area and squared the ball back for the striker to toe-poke into the net from six yards out.
It was Jesus’ first league start since November following surgery on a knee injury sustained at the World Cup.
“So happy for him, and everybody who contributed to having him in the state that he is at the moment,” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said. “Because he put so much work (into) it. He brings that quality, that unpredictability to the squad.”
Potter Under Pressure
If Chelsea fans thought Graham Potter had turned a corner, it might be time to think again.
A 2-0 loss at home to Aston Villa saw the Champions League quarterfinalists drop into the bottom half of the league in 11th place. It is also a result that is likely to place further scrutiny on Potter’s position after this latest blow to his early reign at Stamford Bridge.
There were boos from the home fans after the final whistle.
“After a defeat there is always a disappointment. There is always a feeling we have not moved forward, that’s fair to say,” Potter said.
He added: “I don’t like to blame anybody, I have to take responsibility.”
All Premier Leagues results on Saturday 1st April 2023
Man City 4-1 Liverpool
Arsenal 4-1 Leeds
Bournemouth 2-1 Fulham
Brighton 3-3 Brentford
Crystal Palace 2-1 Leicester
Nottingham Forest 1-1 Wolves
Chelsea 0-2 Aston Villa