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Tensions Flare In Pivotal Arsenal-Man City Clash, With Kevin De Bruyne Shoving Mikel Arteta En Route To 3-1 City Win

In addition to the fireworks, the Citizens triumphant victory moves them into the Premier League’s top spot.      

By Andrew Woodin
Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City kicks away a bottle thrown from the crowd during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on February 15, 2023

The midweek Premier League clash between Manchester City and top-of-the-table Arsenal had a lot at stake. And it showed. Not only did City win 3-1 Wednesday, propelling them one point past the Gunners in the title chase, but things got testy en route to the final result, marked by Kevin De Bruyne shoving Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta in the chest after play resumed near the start of the second half.

In the 51st minute with the scored tied at one apiece, De Bruyne tried to take a quick throw-in, but as he chased the ball down the sideline out of bounds, Arteta blocked him from getting to the ball and may have appeared to tap it away from the Belgian midfielder. The Spaniard’s small stunt immediately provoked De Bruyne’s anger and, in a heated moment, De Bruyne made sure Arsenal’s 40-year-old manager knew it by roughly shoving him out of his way and pointing his finger in his face.  

RELATED: Premier League VAR Controversies Result In Officials' Benchings

Man City’s Norwegian phenom Erling Haaland rushed in to keep City's Belgian talisman from escalating the incident any further, while Granit Xhaka, Gabriel Martinelli and some of Arsenal’s staff all swiftly intervened on Arteta’s behalf. Also helping to defuse the fiery situation was the match’s fourth official, referee Darren England.

While providing commentary on Amazon Prime, legendary striker in Scotland’s top flight Ally McCoist offered his thoughts on the altercation shortly after it transpired.

Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal, reacts during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on February 15, 2023

“I know what he was up to, Arteta, but I'm not sure it deserved that reaction,” McCoist said, according the Daily Mail. “But he was being a bit naughty. Watch, he takes it away there and then gets a little shove for his efforts. But do you know what it's done? It's got the crowd going.”

Still reeling from De Bruyne laying hands on their club’s manager, incensed Arsenal fans got their shot at a little payback at De Bruyne once Man City’s manager Pep Guardiola substituted his star midfielder. As De Bruyne exited the pitch, irate supporters heaved a barrage of plastic bottles and beer cups at him. One nearly struck De Bruyne in the head before he ducked at the last minute to avoid contact. After the match, De Bruyne ensured the unhappy Arsenal fans remained that way by mocking the situation on Instagram with photos and cheeky captions of the incident.  

After enduring a costly VAR error last weekend that resulted in them dropping crucial points to Brentford, things appear to be going from bad to worse for Arsenal. In addition to Man City handing the Gunners an ugly defeat and the team’s first home loss of the season, now the Football Association (FA) plans to investigate Arsenal’s role in De Bruyne’s "bottlegate" and will levy strong sanctions against any supporters guilty of hurling objects at the 31-year-old midfielder.

More importantly, Arsenal capped off a rough slump that’s seen the team garner just one measly point in their past three games and officially relinquishing the top spot in the Premier League to Man City, and are just five points above Manchester United in third place. Guardiola's City side, on the other hand, are now well positioned as they aim for their third consecutive Premier League title. They'd be just the fifth team in English football history to claim three championships in a row.

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