De Bruyne masterclass as Manchester City maul Arsenal
Gunners muster just one shot on target in 3-0 defeat at the Emirates as their miserable season continues
15 December, 2019 — By Sam Ferguson at the Emirates Stadium
MANCHESTER CITY 3 (De Bruyne 2, 40 Sterling 15)
A FIRST-HALF masterclass from Kevin de Bruyne was enough to silence a far from full Emirates Stadium this afternoon as Manchester City ran rampant.
The Belgian skewered a listless Gunners defence with two first half stunners, while also finding the time to set-up Raheem Stirling before the break.
De Bruyne’s second came after Sead Kolasinac limped off just before half time, with Arsenal briefly down to 10-men as substitute Bukayo Saka got changed.
Speaking after the match, interim manager Freddie Ljungberg defended Saka, denying the confusion around the substitution was emblematic of the chaos at the football club.
Speaking of the gulf in class between Arsenal and City, Ljunberg said the team had worked on transitions, and needed to be “more cynical” when opponents looked to counter.
“When you go 3-0 down to a team like city, they can play so well with their possession, it is tough,” said the Swede. “I believe Liverpool and City are in a league of their own at the moment.
“I think we should be good enough to compete with the top-six, but it shows that City and Liverpool are very, very good.
“We put a similar line-up against West Ham for example, where we played really well and could have won 4-1 or 5-1.
“We played then against City, they punished us straight away and we lose 3-0. That shows the differences in quality of teams in this league.”
He added: “We need to be a little realistic. There is a gulf in quality between Liverpool and City, and the rest.”
De Bruyne’s first came 90 seconds after Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli had forced a good save from keeper Ederson at the other end – the home sides only shot on target all game.
City broke quickly from the resulting corner, with Gabriel Jesus rounding Calum Chambers too easily in the box. The Brazilian pulled the ball back to an unmarked De Bruyne, who side-footed into the roof of the net.
The Gunners didn’t learn their lesson, giving De Bruyne far too much space through the centre 14 minutes later, allowing him to find Raheem Sterling. The England international finished clinically to make it 2-0.
Then, with Arsenal briefly down to 10-men after Kolasniac’s injury, De Bruyne took full advantage. The Belgian maestro waltzed along the edge of the area, shrugged off Matteo Guendouzi and curled the ball into the back of the net.
The unstoppable De Bruyne was only denied a first-half hat-trick thanks to a brilliant save from Bernd Leno. Arsenal looked glad to go in at half time and get off the pitch as loud boos rang out across the Emirates.
Though the Gunners started brightly as a rainy second half got underway, they hardly looked threatening. The mood around the stadium was summed up when Mesut Ozil was jeered off the pitch on the hour mark.
Fans booed and called for him to hurry up as he walked slowly to the edge of the pitch to be replaced by Smith Rowe. The clearly frustrated German kicked his gloves across the floor before taking his seat.
Ljungberg said he will deal with Ozil’s reaction. He said: “For me, I took Mesut off because I wanted more energy in the team. If he wants to react when he goes off that’s up to him, and we’ll deal with it later.”
A goalless second half settled down to City dominating through the centre and Arsenal trying to break with long balls but rarely threatening their opponents’ goal.
A stinging silence sounded in the half-empty stadium at the full-time whistle, with no immediate answers from Ljunberg on how to bridge the huge gap in quality between the two sides.
ARSENAL: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Chambers, Sokratis, Kolasinac (Saka, 39), Pepe, Torreira (Willock, 81), Guendouzi, Martinelli, Ozil (Smith Rowe, 59), Aubameyang
Substitutes not used: Lacazette, Luiz, Martinez, Nelson
MANCHESTER CITY: Ederson, Walker, Otemendi, Fernandinho, Mendy (Zinchenko, 85), Stirling, Gundogan (Mahrez, 70), De Bruyne, Rodrigo, Foden (Bernardo Silva, 56), Jesus
Substitutes not used: Bravo, Angelino, Cancelo, Garcia