Arsenal 0-2 Manchester City: Citizens continue as they left off, and as they mean to go on

Arsenal 0-2 Manchester City: Citizens continue as they left off, and as they mean to go on

Strikes in each half from Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva gave Man City an opening day victory against a lacklustre Gunners side.

Sam Smith
ArsenalCech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Maitland-Niles (Lichtsteiner, '35); Guendouzi, Xhaka (Torreira, '70), Ramsey (Lacazette, '54), Ozil, Mkhitaryan; Aubameyang.
Manchester CityEderson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Mendy; Fernandinho, Gundogan, B. Silva; Sterling, Aguero (Jesus, '79), Mahrez (De Bruyne, '59).
SCORE0-1, Sterling, '14. 0-2, B. Silva, '64.

This might be a new Premier League season but it could quite easily follow the very same pattern as the one prior. Manchester City were sensational as they cruised to the title last season, amassing 100 points and smashing seemingly every possible record. And it felt like they seamlessly continued that form as they comfortably defeated an Arsenal side looking slightly disjointed in their first competitive match under Unai Emery.

What was so remarkable about this performance from Pep Guardiola's side was that it lacked many of the key players that starred as they strolled to the title last campaign. Kevin de Bruyne, Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus, Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi only made the bench, the majority due to their involvement in the World Cup. David Silva failed to make the matchday squad. 

The visitors' level of performance, given how few weeks there have been since the World Cup and how little time they have had to prepare for the season, was incredible. The only disappointing aspect of City's performance was that they lacked the clinical edge that saw them waltz past teams last season. They could have led by three or four in the first half, but only Raheem Sterling found a route past Petr Cech before the break. The wide man cut inside from the left wing and drilled the ball beyond the routed Czech goalkeeper on 14 minutes. 

It seemed the goal might open the floodgates, but Cech was in solid form and kept the score down to just one. He did well to prevent a Riyad Mahrez free-kick and then reacted well to stop the follow-up from Aymeric Laporte. Mahrez, making his league debut for the Citizens, then curled an effort wide after getting the better of Arsenal substitute and fellow debutant Stephan Lichtsteiner

Arsenal sloppy on Emery debut

The Gunners were far too structured and predictable, almost robotic as they consistently played short passes out from the back at every opportunity. 19-year-old Metteo Guendouzi was provided his first competitive start following his summer move from Ligue 2 side Lorient and the youngster seemed confident, happy to drop deep and regularly provide a passing option to his defenders. 

The Frenchman was involved in one of his side's more awkward moments midway through the first half, though. He laid the ball back to Cech as Arsenal began another slow move forward, but the former Chelsea man's intended pass to Hector Bellerin was miscued and the ball trickled just wide of his own post and out for a corner.

Emery's men struggled to break down a typically solid City back four, which possessed the new centre-back partnership of Laporte and John Stones. Bellerin cracked an effort straight at Ederson midway through the first half, but the Gunners were sloppy in the final third - epitomised when Mesut Ozil misjudged a run from Aaron Ramsey and subsequently passed straight to Stones who sparked a counter-attack.  

Alexandre Lacazette was introduced ten minutes into the second half to add a fresher impetus up front, a different target for the likes of Ozil, Ramsey and Henrikh Mikhitaryan to find. Alas, the former Lyon man should have at least hit the target soon after his introduction when he was afforded time and space to let his own touch bounce back down, but his volley drifted well wide of Ederson's goal. 

And City, in their usual ruthless, unforgiving nature, would eventually punish the plethora of sloppy Arsenal play in the final third. Just moments after Sergio Aguero had an effort saved when through on goal, they added a second. Benjamin Mendy advanced down the left and squared for Bernardo Silva who thumped the ball into the top corner. 

Lacazette and Ozil both had late strikes correctly disallowed for offside, and there is enough to suggest that this Arsenal side will improve. Not every game will be against a team as good, as well coached, as cold-blooded as Man City.

And that's exactly why it is so widely expected that Guardiola's men will once again pip everyone else to the Premier League title. With the addition of Mahrez, they have an even better squad than they did last season. This wasn't their greatest ever performance, but the fact they were so comfortable against a side that would realistically be wanting to challenge them, is paramount of just how good this Manchester City team is.