Match Report – Man City 3 The Arsenal 1

Manchester City (2) 3 Arsenal (1) 1
Premier League
Etihad Stadium, Ashton New Road, Manchester M11 3FF
Sunday, 3rd February 2019. Kick-off time: 4.30pm
(4-2-3-1) Leno; Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Lichtsteiner; Torreira, Guendouzi; Kolašinac, Iwobi, Aubameyang; Lacazette.
Substitutes: Čech, Elneny, Ramsey, Özil, Suàrez, Mavropanos, Nketiah.
Scorers: Koscielny
Yellow Cards: Torreira
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Attendance: 54,483
At the end of the day, it was a simple matter of desire and technique over good old-fashioned effort and wherewithal. In a case of pure irony, the manner in which Manchester City disposed of Arsenal this afternoon at the Etihad Stadium, was closer to the style of football that the Londoners patented under their former manager at the turn of this century.
Within seconds of the start, the home side were ahead with Sergio Agüero’s first goal of the day which came about by some careless play on the edge of the Arsenal penalty area. The ball came across wickedly low, but not too low for the City striker who headed home past Bernd Leno in a manner that looked extremely easy. The home side started to look as if they would steamroller Arsenal, but a free-kick to the visitors on the edge of the penalty area saw Nacho Monreal head the ball backwards into the general direction of Laurent Koscielny, who wasted no time in scoring with a messy, yet effective header. Arsenal looked as if they were coming back into the match, but after some clever  offensive moves by City, that man Sergio Agüero popped up again just before the half-time break to ensure that his side went off the pitch in the ascendancy.
What a difference a half-time break can make. Did the second half actually happen for Arsenal? They were out there somewhere, I can assure you, although the damning statistic of no shots on the City goal in the second period tells its own story somehow. The gulf in class, organisation and skill started to tell on Arsenal, with City players seemingly doing whatever they liked, when they liked and more importantly, how they liked throughout the half. It appeared that at times, City were just not going to let Arsenal get the ball. Of course, there were short periods in the half when indeed, Arsenal of course, did manage to string a few passes together, but nothing to either scare nor even worry the home side. Throughout the match, Mr. Emery toyed with different formations, none of which had the desired affect here in Manchester today. Even the substitutions (Aaron Ramsey and new boy Dennis Suàrez, for Sead Kolašinac plus Alex Iwobi) were unable to make a difference, but by then, Sergio Agüero had scored his third and final goal of the day anyway, and the home side were on their way to a comfortable home win; a controversial goal in which he bundled the ball over the line after it hit his arm. Ten minutes from time, a very sad and injured Shkrodan Mustafi was replaced by Konstantinos Mavropanos, but by that point in the match it didn’t really matter.
This match showed us up for what we really are; a below-par side that desperately needs to sign defenders that are light years away from a regular top four spot in the table, let alone challenging for title honours. With all due respects to Dennis Suàrez, it’s defenders that we need, not another midfielder. As we feared, this is a long-term work in progress that Mr. Emery is undertaking; if he doesn’t sign defenders in the next transfer window, then we are in real, deep trouble as the ones we have are quite frankly, not good enough to play together at this level. Playing bottom of the Premiership clubs is one thing, but battling against fellow top six sides is a totally different concept, as we are just not good enough to compete with them, let alone beat our rivals. At the time of writing, we are still in the Europa League, so let us hope beyond hope that we are able to go further in the competition, as that is our only chance (however slim) of us getting into a major final this season. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Steve

Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.

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