Ramsdale kept the score down, but Arsenal lost significant ground in the title race at the Etihad last night…
It was a Wednesday night in Manchester that may have ended Arsenal's best chance of winning the Premier League since 2003.
Mikel Arteta's side looked nothing like the Invincibles side who last registered a top flight trophy next to the Gunners' name. Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne ran riot around an Arsenal side who never really turned up for the occasion. In the technical areas, master had well and truly shown apprentice how it's done. Arteta's game plan disintegrated within ten minutes. Guardiola's unrelenting press and energetic dynamism made it look all too easy for Manchester City.
Ederson hardly had a save to make in the City goal before Rob Holding hammered a consolation effort into the back of his net from just inside the penalty box late in the second half. Ramsdale was peppered with shots from minute one to ninety. Four of them found the back of his net, but it would have been more, were it not for a selection of sharp stops from Messrs. Haaland and Co.
Goalkeeper xG data tells us that Ramsdale had a mixed evening, but kept the scoreline down. He ultimately recorded a -0.44 shot stopping value in goals compared to the average Premier League goalkeeper (making five saves against a 5.44 expected saves figure), but made a selection of notable stops throughout the match.
De Bruyne Goal - 1-0 - 7th Minute
Expected Save Probability: 29%
A low, curling shot from City's Belgian wizard may initially have seemed saveable, but the data shows less than a third of Premier League goalkeepers save a shot of that nature. Had Ramsdale set a little deeper, it's possible he'd have got a hand to the ball. Nonetheless, had he done so, it would have been a fantastic save; De Bruyne's shot deserved to go in, and did.
Ramsdale Save vs Haaland - 1-0 - 28th Minute
Expected Save Probability: 61%
Haaland's bursting run through towards Ramsdale's goal was initially pushed out wide by Rob Holding, the covering defender. But, a quick cut back inside onto his left foot saw the Norwegian find a pocket of space in between Holding and Olexsandr Zinchenko, and Haaland poked a low shot towards goal. Ramsdale got down to his right with a smart collapse save and a strong right wrist saw the shot saved.
Ramsdale Save vs Haaland, #2 - 1-0 - 32nd Minute
Expected Save Probability: 96%
A vicious, tight-angled volley from City's ponytailed talisman stung the palms of Ramsdale once again only four minutes later. A dinked ball over the top found from wide on City's left flank was met ferociously by Haaland on the volley wide inside the box. His effort was matched by Ramsdale, who saved well at the near post. Given the angle of the shot, most Premier League goalkeepers mathematically save such a shot.
Ramsdale Save vs Haaland, #3 - 1-0 - 41st Minute
Expected Save Probability: 42%
Ramsdale was ‘winning his personal battle’ against Haaland, as the BT Sport Commentary team put it during last night's live broadcast. As City once again broke through Arsenal's defensive ranks, Haaland found himself unmarked, receiving a cutback from Ilkay Gundogan who had danced past Buyako Saka. The Norwegian stabbed goalward with his left foot, but Ramsdale, setting low, moved well and sprawled down low, stopping the ball with his trailing legs.
Stones Goal - 2-0 - 46th Minute
Expected save probability: 18%
Arsenal were hanging on for dear life as the first half drew to a close. Thomas Partey had dragged a shot wide of Ederson's left hand post earlier in the half in what was their only real clear-cut chance of the first 45 minutes. A second goal for the hosts was coming, and it came in controversial circumstances. A free kick clipped towards the back post was met by John Stones, who looped the header over Ramsdale and into the far corner. VAR took its time to verify that Stones was onside. Ramsdale could do little.
Ramsdale Save vs Haaland, #4 - 2-0 - 53rd Minute
Expected save probability: 56%
It looked as if Haaland's goal wouldn't come. Ramsdale was an equal match to City's number nine as he raced through on goal after turning Gabriel. The Englishman did well to halt his advance just outside the six yard box with Arsenal's defenders covering. A continued movement would have likely put Ramsdale off balance, and there was no need to engage Haaland given the distance from goal of the ball and the covering defenders. Ramsdale held his movement just before the penalty spot, and took a small step forward into a spread save as Haaland pulled the trigger.
De Bruyne Goal #2 - 3-0 - 54th Minute
Expected save probability: 76%
One minute later, the floodgates reopened and De Bruyne put the game to bed with his second. Martin Odegaard conceded possession in midfield, and Haaland carried the ball forward, and slotted De Bruyne through to the left of the ‘D’. The Belgian controlled closely on his right foot and slotted the ball neatly through Ben White's legs, into the bottom left hand corner of Ramsdale's goal. Ramsdale's set position was low and steady, but he collapsed, rather than stepped, into the dive. His reach wasn't great enough to prevent goal number three.
Haaland Goal - 4-1 - 95th Minute
Expected save probability: 67%
Arsenal had by added time pulled a goal back in front of the travelling fans. However, it was little more than a consolation, and Erling Haaland wasn't going to go home empty handed. With Arsenal's defence tired and the Norwegian steamroller refusing to give up chase, Phil Foden rolled a loose ball into his path inside the penalty box. Haaland finally got the better of Ramsdale, via a loose wrist, and finished low into the bottom corner.
Hair loose and the cameras on him, Haaland finished off a rousing Manchester City performance that put the title chase firmly in their control.