LONDON: Manchester City risk welcoming Pep Guardiola to the prospect of ‘only’ Europa League football next season after a dismal week reached its nadir with a ‘mere’ 2-2 home draw against Arsenal, who thus strengthened their grip on third place.
City’s failure to win leaves them vulnerable to being pushed out of the top four by neighbours United. Louis Van Gaal’s men go to West Ham on Tuesday then host Bournemouth on ‘closing day’ next Sunday.
Manuel Pellegrtini’s men have only one game remaining, away to Swansea, after a week which brought Champions League elimination and the loss of captain Vincent Kompany. He has been out of Belgium’s Euro 2016 campaign after suffering the 33rd muscle injury of his City career early in the Champions League semi-final defeat by Real Madrid.
Kompany has suffered five separate injuries this season, playing only 22 matches out of a possible 57. He said, on his Facebook page, that this was “very sad news” but he trusted his “friends and team-mates to do well and do us proud in France.” He added: “I am now officially their most fervent supporter and will be there to support them.”
Sergio Aguero shot City ahead in the eighth minute. However a Kompany-less defence was outjumped almost immediately by Olivier Giroud for his first league goal since January 13.
Arsenal, without injured Mesut Ozil and Per Mertesacker, were weakened further when Danny Welbeck injured a knee, a worrying sight for not only manager Arsene Wenger but also for England.
City regained the lead deservedly five minutes into the second half with De Bruyne’s seventh goal in the league since his return to English football from Wolfsburg. But their sloppy defence then fell open yet again, punished this time by Alexis Sanchez.
In the day’s other games Tottenham, their bubble punctured by the loss of league title hope, went down 2-1 at home to Southampton while Liverpool beat Watford 2-0.