A dominant Manchester City deservedly beat an in-transition Arsenal 2-0 in Unai Emery’s first game at club in a controlling fashion.
Before the game had even started at the Emirates there were some interesting choices in each manager’s starting eleven, with Emery not choosing to start summer signing Bernd Leno over experienced Petr Cech and French youngster Mattéo Guendouzi starting in midfield, with Lucas Torreira not deemed fit enough to start. For Manchester City, there were some very notable names not starting, with De Bruyne, Kompany and Sane all on the bench.
City started the game very strongly, dominating the Gunners from the off and debutant Riyad Mahrez and Kyle Walker both getting a lot of joy down the right-hand side against make-shift left back Maintland-Niles, who was taken off injured on the half an hour mark, replaced by another debuting in Lichtsteiner. It didn’t take long for City to go 1-0 up, with Sterling slotting one home from the edge off the box which was poorly defended by Hector Bellerin. After that, last season’s champions showed why they were considered to be one of the best sides in Premier League history as they toyed with the Arsenal defence, crafting countless chances for themselves. Petr Cech kept Arsenal in the game at various points throughout the first half, stopping a Sterling effort from close range and making an excellent double save from Mahrez’s freekick and Laporte’s subsequent rebound attempt. However in the last 15 minutes of the half Arsenal began to play some much nicer football, with them playing an effective pressing game that involved Aaron Ramsey effectively playing as Arsenal’s centre forward when they didn’t have the ball, becoming the focal point of their pressing game. Both teams would’ve been content with the 1-0 scoreline at half time, though Emery knew they would’ve had to be much better to stop this scintillating City side.
The second half proved to be much less eventful, with Pep Guardiola’s side taking their foot off the pedal to see out the victory in a controlling style. Lacazette replaced Ramsey early on in the half and did make a noticeable impact to the Arsenal attack, injecting it with some energy and urgency and they had a few efforts at goal but none that really troubled Ederson. Bernado Silva killed off the game for the reigning champions in the 64th minute with a great finish from outside of the area, just moments after Aguero missed an easy one-on-one that was saved by Cech. Arsenal had a few chances after that with the home support having brief moments of hope but they were ultimately not clinical enough in creating clear-cut chances and City easily won their first game of the season 1-0
Guardiola will be very pleased with this performance, and any chat of City being complacent after such a dominated season last year will have been squashed. They remain clear favourites for the title and with some of their best players still to return into the fold, we have likely not seen them at the height of their powers. Arsenal however will not be too disheartened by this result, losing to one of the best teams in Europe is no disgrace and Emery will be hoping that his Arsenal side can make a real statement next Saturday away to a new look Chelsea side to kick-start their season.