Manchester City 3-0 Arsenal
It proved to be a difficult reboot for Arsenal as Manchester City did their utmost to hold up the inevitable surrender of their Premier League crown
It seems like a lifetime ago since substitute Alexandre Lacazette netted a VAR-assisted late winner for Arsenal against West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium. The subsequent unfolding that boss Mikel Arteta had tested positive for coronavirus and the swift cancellation of everything Premier League left us all wondering if, and indeed when, we would be seeing football again.
Fast forward one hundred days – An empty Etihad Stadium, trademark Mancunian showers and an opportunity to awaken from their enforced slumber.
But it was a cumbersome start from Arsenal who, in truth, always looked off the pace. Kevin De Bruyne’s early dead-ball effort did little to trouble Bernd Leno. However, the North Londoners were quickly handed a conundrum when Granit Zhaka fell awkwardly on an ankle and was led away on a stretcher, to be replaced by Dani Ceballos.
Arsenal had held warm-up games with both Charlton at Brentford in their lead-up to the match. However, despite best-laid plans, the rigours of competitive football were to strike again soon after. This time Pablo Mari departed the scene – David Luiz stood in – another muscular injury proving problematic.
Raheem Sterling forced a smart save from Leno after cutting in for the left. And the German stopper was soon in the thick of it again – this time getting down well to turn away from David Silva, then using his feet to thwart Riyad Marhez.
City was asking all the questions. Sterling clipped over after De Bruyne expertly fashioned an opening. But Arsenal were to be breached in first-half stoppage time. Sterling rifled beyond Leno from an angle after David Luiz made a hash of clearing De Bruyne’s threaded pass and much to the disgust of the animated Arteta.
Three minutes after the restart, David Luiz’ evening went from bad to worse. The Brazilian clumsily hauled down Mahrez – Referee, Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot, then brandished a red card to the troubled defender. De Bruyne made no mistake, sending Leno the wrong way. The Gunners were now staring very much down the barrel.
This was already resembling a damage limitation exercise and there was no way back for Arteta’s charges. Gunners Man of the Match, Leno, stuck out a glove to rebuff De Bruyne, then palmed away from Gündogan following Sterling’s clever free-kick.
Concern surrounded the wellbeing of Eric Garcia after a sickening collision with Ederson. The stricken City defender was treated for almost ten minutes before becoming the second player on the night to depart on a stretcher.
Phil Foden added a third for the home side, following up after fellow substitute Sergio Agüero had hit the foot of an upright.
Bernardo Silva and Agüero passed up decent opportunities to rub salt into the Gunners wounds. Meanwhile, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was snubbed out as the visitors’ sort a consolation on what was otherwise a night to forget.
Arsenal return to Premier League action on Saturday, June 20 when they take on Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium (3pm)
Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, García, Laporte (Fernandinho 70’), Mendy, Silva (Bernardo Silva 65’), Gündogan, De Bruyne (Rodri 70’), Mahrez (Foden 65’), Gabriel Jesus (Agüero 80’), Sterling Subs not used: Zinchenko, Sané, Otamendi, Carson
Booked: Rodri (foul)
Goals: Sterling 45+3’, Kevin De Bruyne (penalty) 51’ PhilFoden 90+1’
Arsenal: Leno, Bellerín, Marí (Luiz 22’), Mustafi, Tierney, Xhaka (Ceballos 7’), Guendouzi (Maitland-Niles 77’), Nketiah (Lacazette 77’), Willock (Nelson 77’), Saka, Aubameyang Subs not used: Ceballos, Pépé, Martínez, Kolasinac, Martinelli
Booked: Tierney (foul)
Sent-off: David Luiz (professional foul)
Referee: Antony Taylor
Assistants: Gary Beswick and Adam Nunn
Fourth Official: Martin Atkinson
Reaction to follow…