Arsenal brushed aside by Man City in Unai Emery’s first competitive match
Champions cruise to victory at the Emirates Stadium as Gunners fans' hopes of an instant turnaround from last season are dashed
13 August, 2018 — By Tom Foot
Arsenal boss Unai Emery: ‘We’re starting, and we need also to do one process one way. Today is the first step.’
MANCHESTER CITY 2 (Sterling 14, B Silva 64)
ARSENAL were brushed aside by champions Manchester City in a disappointing and disjointed first competitive game under new manager Unai Emery.
Hopes of an instant turnaround from last season’s shambles were dashed, despite Pep Guardiola’s side playing most of the game in third gear.
It was a scrappy match with a first-game-of-the-season feel but there was little evidence of the grit and determination Gunners fans had been hoping for.
Emery said after the game: “We’re starting and we need also to do one process one way. Today is the first step. Manchester City are working in their third year with Guardiola and they have built a team with security, good players and a great stability of playing like they want. We are only starting out now.”
Arsenal played four at the back with two holding midfielders, Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendozi. Guendozi played with guile and energy, but the French Ligue 2 signing is perhaps not yet ready for this level. Xhaka was replaced by new signing Lucas Torreira in the second half and the new signing, who played for Uruguay in the World Cup, looked more comfortable on the ball.
Raheem Sterling breezed past Hector Bellerin and Guendozi and struck a firm low shot past Petr Cech after just 14 minutes. The Arsenal keeper was perhaps a little unsighted but the goal felt soft and all too familiar from last season.
Cech looked nervous throughout and his distribution lacked conviction – he will be looking over his shoulder at new signing Benard Leno. Emery has told the goalkeeper to pass the ball out at the back, with the two full-backs dropping back to collect the ball deep in line with the six-yard box.
Ainsley Mailtand-Niles hobbled off injured and was replaced by Stephan Lichtsteiner on 36 minutes and the former Juventus man looked solid.
The Gunners midfield huffed and puffed but could not find any killer balls to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. When he was put in he did not look confident to score. Mesut Ozil – who fans hoped would up his game after a summer spat with the German national team – put in another absent-minded performance. His stumbling control with practically an open goal at his mercy on 85 minutes summed up another abject display for the gifted midfielder.
Mkhitaryan was equally non-committal. The Gunners’ best chances came when Alexandre Lacazette was introduced early on in the first half. But his shooting was also wayward. On 64 minutes, Bernardo Silva lashed in from a Benjamin Mendy cut-back, effectively ending the match.
Guardiola said: “Today our play was completely different to the way we played against Chelsea. But I am very satisfied with both performances. It is a good message.”
It is clear that there are going to be no quick fixes and Project Emery is going to take a while to come to fruition.
ARSENAL: Cech, Bellerin, Sokratis, Mustafi, Maitland-Niles (Lichtsteiner, 36), Xhaka (Torreira, 64) Guendozi, Ozil, Mhkityran, Ramsey (Lacazette, 50) Aubameyang.
Subs not used: Leno, Elneny, Holding, Iwobi.
MAN CITY: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Sterling (Sane, 82), Gundogan, Laporte, B Silva, Aguero (Jesus, 80), Mendy, Fernandinho, Mahrez (De Bruyne, 74).
Subs not used: Bravo, Kompany, Otamendi, Foden.