Haaland’s treble against Wolverhampton, but Arsenal thrash United in the Premier League

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The distance duel between Manchester City and Arsenal is in full swing. Erling Haaland’s Citizens thought they would go hardest by dominating Wolverhampton 3-0 with ease, but that was without counting on Arsenal who continue to surprise. Faced with a combative Manchester United, the Gunners won a precious and deserved success in extremis at the end of a breathless game.

With 50 points, the Gunners regain a five-point lead over their immediate pursuer, with one game less, while the Red Devils remain 4th with 39 points.

Arsenal are still in the lead

Deprived of their metronome Casemiro, suspended, in the center of the field, United have long believed in a draw despite suffering in their area for much of the second period, but Arsenal never let go. The visitors had managed to open the scoring with a superb strike from Marcus Rashford from 23 yards (0-1, 17th), but Arsenal had reacted immediately and equalized after a perfect cross from Granit Xhaka to Eddie Nketiah’s head, total forgotten by Aaron Wan-Bissaka behind his back (1-1, 24th).

Reverse scenario at the start of the second half when Bukayo Saka easily got rid of Christian Eriksen by sending a shot from 22 yards out of reach from David De Gea, who had anticipated on the wrong side (2-1, 53rd). But the joy was short lived for the Londoners who, after an Aaron Ramsdale save for Rashford (55th), saw his goalkeeper generalize from a corner with Takehiro Tomiyasu, allowing Lisandro Martinez to throw himself for a diving header and victorious lobbed ball. (2-2, 59th).

Arsenal could have taken the three points on a shot from Saka that hit the outside of the post or a recovery from Nketiah from 7 yards pushed back by an astonishing reflex from Gea. But it was only at the last moment that Nketiah, with an acrobatic heel, saw the foul again (3-2, 90th), not without a few minutes of tension offered by the VAR for a possible offside. This success confirms the Gunners who will face City in the FA Cup 16th Final at the Etihad in five days, before welcoming them to the competition this time on February 15 at the Emirates.

Halland reactor re-ignited

The Citizens, who have stuttered their football a bit since the Championship resumption, appear to have bounced back since the second period against Tottenham on Thursday, where they went from 0-2 to 4-2, with Haaland’s first performance coming in 2023, author this time from a triple.

Against Wolves, going on since Julen Lopetegui arrived on the bench even though they are only 17th, City showed patience. The first attempts by Haaland, Jack Grealish, Ilkay Gündogan or Rodri neither found the frame nor allowed José Sa to shine in the cages. But on the first perfectly executed play, Kevin de Bruyne’s spontaneous cross, found by Riyad Mahrez, was triumphantly taken over by Haaland, a header higher than everyone else at the far post (1-0, 40th).

Haaland added a penalty (2-0, 50th) and a third goal off a caviar from Mahrez, to which Sa had sent the ball straight (3-0, 54th), before leaving just after the hour mark with the sense of duty accomplished. This is his fourth hat-trick in 19 league games, where the previous record, held by Ruud van Nistelrooy, was 65 games. And only Alan Shearer scored more hat-tricks in a single season in 1996-1997 (5). With 25 goals, Haaland has already surpassed last year’s top two goalscorers, Son Heung-min and Mohamed Salah (23).

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