A last-minute consolation and a bundled effort from a long throw-in are the only goals Premier League leaders Manchester City have conceded in nine games across all competitions in 2021.
Pep Guardiola has constructed a virtually impenetrable defensive unit in his fifth season at City and it is providing the platform for the team’s latest run at the league title.
City’s advantage at the top has been extended to three points after a battling 1-0 win over last-placed Sheffield United was followed by second-place Manchester United’s 0-0 draw at Arsenal.
That’s five straight clean sheets for City in the league – and 10 in their past 12 top-flight games.
On a day when Guardiola rotated his line-up and City’s attack was never at its free-flowing best, a close-range effort from Gabriel Jesus in the ninth minute was enough to earn an eighth straight league win.
“In December and January to show this consistency is amazing,” Guardiola said.
Former leaders United have now dropped points in three of their past four league games.
Edinson Cavani wasted the Red Devils’ best two chances at Emirates Stadium while Alexandre Lacazette struck the crossbar with a free kick for Arsenal, who brought on Martin Odegaard – a loan signing from Real Madrid – for his debut.
United set a club record by extending their unbeaten away streak in the top division to 18 games but handed a big advantage to City, who have a game in hand.
“We don’t think about the title race. We’re in January,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.
Arsenal are ninth as their results continue to improve after their early season struggles.
“I thought it was a fair result. Both managers probably think: we should have won it,” Gunners boss Mikel Arteta said.
Elsewhere, Callum Wilson scored both goals as Newcastle United snapped their five-game losing streak with a 2-0 win at Everton to move eight points clear of the bottom three.
After a strong start to the season, Southampton are in the bottom half after a 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa.
Ross Barkley scored the first-half winner by heading in a cross from Jack Grealish as the Saints suffered their third loss in a row.
Crystal Palace beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 thanks to the latest wonder strike by Eberechi Eze while Fulham and West Bromwich Albion played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in a relegation battle at The Hawthorns.