The new season of the Premier League well and truly began on Friday night when Manchester United pipped Leicester in the opening game of this season. But all eyes were on the Super Sunday clash between Arsenal and the defending champions Man City.
City fans: ‘Arsene Wenger, he left ‘cos you’re sh*t’
Arsenal fans: ‘Arsene Wenger, he’s won more than you’
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) August 12, 2018
New boss Unai Emery was hoping for a winning start to his fresh campaign with Arsenal, but Pep Guardiola and his men had other ideas as the Gunners lost the game by two stunning goals from Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva for Man City.
The newly appointed Arsenal head coach had plenty of decisions to make before the kick-off as he was without any of his established left-backs, and went with Ainsley Maitland-Niles in that position. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang started as the main striker ahead of Lacazette who was sat on bench. Aaron Ramsey was given the number 10 role with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil placed on the flanks.
Youngster Matteo Guendouzi made his debut in the starting line-up as well, which was a clear sign of how much the coach trusts the teenager. City went with Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan. Riyad Mahrez also started, making his Premier League debut for the club. And even with Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane on the bench, the Skyblues looked intimidating.
The Londoners started the game in a promising manner, with Ramsey creating chances and the team pressing the visitors, but eventually began to lose pace and that is when City gained momentum. Benjamin Mendy, a constant menace for Bellerin, was marauding forward all the time and ultimately slid the ball in the 14th minute to Sterling in the middle of the park where the Englishman found the back of the net with a deflected strike. There were no supplies for Arsenal from the wing and the centre of the park was also packed by the Man City midfielders.
Arsenal had few instances to create but failed with the final ball. Maitland-Niles picked up an injury and was replaced by debutant Stephen Lichtsteiner in the 35th minute to worsen the crisis Arsenal were in.The visitors grew more and more into the game and could have easily scored a couple more in the first half with Sergio Aguero going one-on-one against Cech, but the Gunners’ stopper made sure it was only 1-0 at the break.
The second half started with more of the same from both teams and 10 minutes into the half, Ramsey made way for Lacazette ensuring Ozil played in the middle and Aubameyang took his position at the wings.
The Frenchman had an instant impact on the game, with his volley curling just wide of Ederson’s goal. There was spark in the Arsenal attack now, but the Man City Defense stood strong the nullified all that the Gunners threw at them.
Arsenal covered 118kms yesterday against City, more than any other side in the PL this week. Some of our combinations did not come off, but you can't doubt the effort.
— LTArsenal™ (@ltarsenal) August 13, 2018
The hosts suffered another setback when the same menace in Mendy provided another cross and Bernardo finished it with pace and precision. Man City deserved their two goal advantage and then 5 minutes later, Emery brought Lucas Torreira on for Granit Xhaka, who was having a poor outing, in hopes of providing some strength in midfield, but it was too late.
The Cityzens kept the ball in the later stages of the game to ensure all three points were taken and get to a winning start to their campaign.
Man City look very strong overall, and are truly the favourites to defend the title. But for Arsenal, there is still work to do. The centre-back pairing looked good and with the return of Nacho Monreal at left-back, the back four might look solid. Guendouzi also showed confidence in his play.
Among all Arsenal players vs. Man City, Matteo Guendouzi recorded:
• Most touches (72)
• Most passes attempted (47)
• Most fouls won (3)
Promising Premier League debut from the 19-year-old. ?? pic.twitter.com/964nl2XphO
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 12, 2018
Emery’s men play Chelsea on Saturday in what will be an exciting encounter as well, and need to make sure these mistakes aren’t repeated then. But for now, it didn’t go the way Unai and Arsenal wanted.
Let’s hope the Gunners will learn from this and do their homework and will be up and running against Chelsea to finally kick-start their campaign.