A new era for one, business as usual for the other. In what was supposed to be the match of the opening weekend, turned out to be another one-sided event with Pep Guardiola’s men dominating their opposition. It didn’t took long for the visitors to break the deadlock with Raheem Sterling dribbling past Bellerin and Guendouzi along the eighteen yard box before producing a neat curler into the back of the net.
The goal left the Gooners rattled and all of a sudden City was in control. Things got worse for the home side with Ainsley Maitland-Niles forced to retire from the match due to an injury, and was replaced by new boy Stephan Lichtsteiner. It didn’t end there, as Cech’s passing of the ball across his box nearly resulted in an own goal.
The introduction of Alexandre Lacazette five minutes into the second term gave his side some hope, narrowly missing a volley that would have sent the Emirates into meltdown if it had gone in. An error from Guendouzi gifted Sergio Aguero the perfect opportunity to seal the three points. It’s not every day you witness Aguero come out second best in a one-on-one situation but that was the case with Cech who pulled off an impressive save.
City would redeem themselves a few moments later with Bernardo Silva striking the ball in the top corner to bury the opposition. Whilst City went into time wasting mode, the Gooners were denied two late goals due to succumbing to the offside trap. The match ended 2-0 to the defending champions who were by far the better side. A disappointing beginning for the Emery era but here are the talking points from the match:
1. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE.
The task ahead for Unai Emery is extremely difficult at the very least. Greatness doesn’t happen overnight, neither would fixing a team with countless issues that have spanned across the last decade. There were minor glimpses of the team attempting to implement his style but Ozil and co. are still far off from where they need to be. With time, they will be. But what’s worse is the board failing to support the manager in his quest to return the Gooners to the elite status they once were. After all, a budget of fifty million for transfers from a club like Arsenal is a downright joke.
2. MASTERCLASS CITY.
There are no signs of slowing down for the defending champions who started off the season in style. Scary thing is they didn’t have their best XI, yet they played like champions. With the ridiculous squad depth at their disposal and the addition of Mahrez, it wouldn’t be a slightest surprise if City retain the title.
3. DEFENSIVE WOES.
Defensive reinforcements were a huge priority for Arsenal in the transfer market. Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus) and Sokratis (Borussia Dortmund) were fine additions but it’s evident the investment wasn’t enough. With Koscielny, Monreal, Kolasinac and now Maitland-Niles injured, Chambers loaned to Fulham, and Ospina set to depart for Besiktas, it’s not looking good.
But wait, it gets worse. Cech’s prime days are long gone; Mustafi and Bellerin were the worst performing defenders at the club last season and showed no signs of improvement on the weekend, whereas Holding and Mavropanos are inexperienced of leading the back-line. Meanwhile the new signings need time to settle. Unless Emery is going to get his defense in order and injury free, it’s going to be a woeful season at the back.
4. TWO GOALS WERE ENOUGH.
Time wasting is something you don’t see often from City but they clearly displayed it on numerous occasions. Strongest piece of evidence was the Mahrez substitution for Kevin De Bruyne where the Algerian waited a whole minute to take the corner before taking his sweet time to walk to the other end of the field.
Once Bernardo Silva gave his side their second, the Citizens sat back and knocked it helplessly across the back-line. They showed no desire going forward which caused them to make errors due to Arsenal taking advantage of the press. Unusual but I’m sure Pep gave them a friendly reminder post match.
5. GUENDOUZI FEVER.
Making your Premier League debut is always a massive highlight in a player’s career. Especially if you’re nineteen, playing for Arsenal and up against the reigning champions of the country. You could say Matteo Guendouzi’s debut was hot and cold but at the end of the day he was impressive. In time, he’ll easily become one of the best midfielders in the league.