Manchester City reduced the gap at the top of the Premier League to two points for 24 hours at least as Sergio Aguero’s hat-trick helped them to a 3-1 win over Arsenal.
The reigning champions took the lead after 46 seconds through Aguero’s header as Arsenal nearly crumbled early on, but they were soon level as Laurent Koscielny scored a header of his own from a corner.
But City went in ahead at half-time as Aguero simply finished off from Raheem Sterling’s fine assist, and the Argentine completed his hat-trick with a fortuitous close-range touch off the side of his body, through there was a suspicion of handball.
The result means pressure is back on Liverpool to regain their five-point lead against West Ham on Monday while Arsenal move down to sixth, three points off the top four.
Pep Guardiola surprised all with his team selection as Fernandinho started at centre-back and Aymeric Laporte at left-back, but it looked to work a treat early on as City dominated.
After scoring just 24 seconds in against Newcastle, City fans had to wait 46 seconds for their opener this time courtesy of Aguero again, heading home unmarked six yards out from Laporte’s left-wing cross after the Frenchman robbed Alex Iwobi on the edge of the area.
City piled forward and threatened a quick-fire second, but Arsenal levelled as Nacho Monreal flicked on Lucas Torreira’s corner for Koscielny to nod in at the back post having got away from Sterling.
Arsenal grew into the game and looked the happier of the two sides going into the break, but they were stung late in the half via a slick City move.
Ilkay Gundogan’s deft chip over the Arsenal defence for Sterling still left the England winger with a job to do to find Aguero at the back post, but he did so superbly with a fine first-time volleyed cross for the Argentine to tap in.
City nearly got a third after the break as Bernd Leno blocked Kevin De Bruyne’s close-range effort, but Aguero was in the right place to bundle Sterling’s low cross from the left over the line just after the hour, though replays show the ball hit his arm.
Leno parried away Aguero’s deflected effort from the edge of the box to deny him a fourth, and Leno kept the score down again moments later, smartly tipping away David Silva’s 20-yard shot.