Arsenal defeat leaves Man City one win from PL title
The flickering embers of Arsenal's Premier League title dream were all but extinguished as they suffered a 3-0 home drubbing by Europe-chasing Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday.
With relentless Manchester City winning at Everton in the earlier kickoff to move four points clear, long-time league leaders Arsenal knew only a victory would suffice.
But they produced a laboured display against the crafty south coast club and were outplayed after the break as Julio Enciso, Deniz Undav and Pervis Estupinan all scored for Roberto De Zerbi's side who moved up to sixth place.
Arsenal's former Brighton forward Leandro Trossard struck the crossbar in the first half, but Arsenal looked deflated after Enciso struck in the 51st minute and crestfallen when Undav lobbed over Aaron Ramsdale in the 86th minute.
Estupinan completed Arsenal's misery in stoppage time to the delight of Brighton's fans who may soon be watching the club's first venture into European competition.
A fifth league defeat of the season left Arsenal on 81 points with two games remaining to City's 85 with three left and victory for Pep Guardiola's side next Sunday against Chelsea would wrap up City's fifth title in six seasons.
They could secure it before that though if Arsenal lose against Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
Brighton have 58 points with four games still remaining.
There was a hint of resignation in the air amongst Arsenal's fans as they streamed towards the Emirates Stadium after hearing of Manchester City's earlier victory at Everton -- an 11th successive league win for City.
And there was a lethargy about Arsenal's play as Brighton set the tempo with their measured passing game.
Arsenal were not helped by losing forward Gabriel Martinelli to injury midway through the first half after he failed to shake off the effects of a hefty Moises Caicedo tackle.
The Brazilian was replaced by Trossard and he came closest to breaking the deadlock before halftime with a shot that clipped the crossbar.
Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard drilled a shot just wide and Bukayo Saka did the same in first-half stoppage time but Brighton hogged possession and were always a threat with Enciso twice having a clear sight of goal.
The home fans tried to galvanise their team but the mood fell flat six minutes after the interval as Brighton attacked down the left and after his initial cross was blocked, Estupinan lifted a ball into the area for Enciso to head in.
Arsenal never looked convincing as they tried to respond and shot themselves in the foot when Ramsdale passed the ball out to Trossard and his flick rebounded back towards goal and Undav had all the time in the world to dink a lob into the net.
With Arsenal in tatters, Estupinan then put the icing on Brighton's cake, steering in a rebound after Ramsdale had parried Undav's powerful shot.