September 19, 2021

SportsOnly

Football and other sports news

Manchester City trash Arsenal, guns them to the bottom of the league

3 min read

Pep Guardiola may have missed out on Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo in the same week but his Manchester City side hardly struggled for goals against this miserable Arsenal performance.

Granit Xhaka’s first half sending off contributed to a wretched day for the Gunners that saw them open the season with three straight losses for the first time since 1954-55 and which placed Mikel Arteta’s job under yet more scrutiny.

Two City goals in the opening dozen minutes and the dismissal of Xhaka, 10 minutes before the interval, were the lowlights of another miserable afternoon in a season which is rapidly taking on crisis proportions for Arteta.

City struck after seven minutes but only after a host of errors by visiting defenders, starting when Kieran Tierney failed to adequately close down Gabriel Jesus on the right wing.

The Brazilian, looking effective in a wide position, swung over a perfect cross, Callum Chambers was marginally out of position as the ball sailed over him and Ilkay Gundogan had the simple task of heading in.

It took just five minutes for City to double their lead when a well-worked free-kick far outside the area allowed Bernardo Silva to launch a searching ball into the area which was helped on by Arsenal defender Cedric Soares.

There was a scramble – and Arsenal appeals for a foul by Aymeric Laporte on Chambers – but the net result was the ball passing through to Ferran Torres who finished confidently from close range.

An indication of Arsenal’s incompetence – and City’s superiority – was reflected in the fact that the visitors’ best, if not only, chance of the half was the result of City keeper Ederson’s casual clearance which struck Emile Smith Rowe, rolled along the goalline and passed just wide of the post.

Soares and Kolasinac went into referee Martin Atkinson’s book as the visitors struggled to contain City but Xhaka saw red when he launched himself, two-footed, to try and rob Joao Cancelo of the ball, clipping the City full-back as he did so.

It did not take long for City to capitalise on the one-man advantage, Jack Grealish slaloming his way into the Arsenal area and along the by-line before pulling the ball back for Jesus to take a touch and convert from close-range.

The one-way traffic continued after the restart with damage limitation the mood of Arsenal’s day – Bernd Leno doing that when he kept out Silva’s early strike.

City would not be denied after 52 minutes, however, when Silva laid the ball off for Rodri, loitering on the edge of the area, whose perfectly-executed low shot flew past Leno.

As Guardiola worked through his substitutes’ bench, Raheem Sterling almost scored with a well-guided header which Leno tipped over his bar.

Leno was unable to do anything about the next header launched in his direction, as an unmarked Torres rose to meet Riyad Mahrez’s 85th minute cross and head home City’s fifth.

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