Manchester City scorers Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva celebrate against Arsenal
Arsenal 0 Manchester City 2
Now at least Unai Emery has a better idea of the challenge facing him at the Emirates Stadium. The 2-0 defeat to Manchester City yesterday was predictable, but on the plus side Arsenal only conceded twice compared to last season’s 3-0 defeat at home.
On the downside, Emery will better appreciate that he has several players in his squad nowhere near the required level to challenge for the Premier League title. Nor indeed the desire, and one wonders how long it will be before the Spaniard ushers Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil out of the Emirates.
Wenger scaled heights with the Gunners in his first decade in charge but in the last few years he brought the club to its knees. It will take Emery a couple of seasons at least to repair the damage wrought by the Frenchman.
A Sterling performance
As for Manchester City, they began brightly, faded either side of half-time, but came good in the final quarter to cruise to victory.
Raheem Sterling gave City the lead on 14 minutes, waltzing past the static Arsenal defence to lash the ball past Petr Cech, and the visitors had ample opportunities to double their advantage.
Cech was forced to save well from Riyad Mahrez’s low free-kick and also from Aymeric Laporte as he stretched for the rebound. The Arsenal goalkeeper also did well to deny Sergio Aguero in the second half but 60 seconds later the Arsenal back four were again guilty of ball-watching as Benjamin Mendy’s cut-back was blasted home by Bernardo Silva.
Arsenal created little and it was only when Alexandre Lacazette and Lucas Torreira were introduced as second-half substitutes that the home side asked questions of the City defence.
Emery, meanwhile, must ask himself plenty of questions about how his side can improve before Saturday’s trip to Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea.
Reactions: coaches, players and pundits
Unai Emery on the performance: “The first half we didn’t play like we wanted. We spoke at half-time about taking more responsibility for the second half, to do a little more. We wanted to build with the ball and break their lines. I think in the second half we played more like we want.”
Emery on the future: “We’re starting and we need also to do one process one way. Today is the first step. Manchester City are working in their third year with Guardiola and they have built a team with security, good players and a great stability of playing like they want. We are only starting out now.”
Gary Neville on Arsenal’s challenge: “I don’t think this is short term. The recruitment has been so bad here over the last three or four years, it’s going to take two or three, maybe four transfer windows to sort this out. Emery is a great coach and he needs three or four transfer windows. I don’t care who the coach would be, you could bring Pep Guardiola in here, even with the biggest transfer budget and one of the best coaches in the world, it’s going to take him more than that.”
Gary Lineker on Emery’s challenge: “Tough job for Unai Emery. As we saw post Sir Alex at Manchester United, when a coach has been as dominant at a club for so long it’s difficult to impose a different style/mentality. Takes time, which is something coaches are rarely given these days.”
City boss Pep Guardiola: “We played a high level considering the lack of physical condition for many of the players who arrived back late after the World Cup. Our performance was good but this is just the first step so we keep going.”
City scorer Bernardo Silva: “We’re very happy to start the Premier League with a win against such a strong team. We wanted to be professional and we did it. We defended very well and we beat them.”
City scorer Raheem Sterling: “I’m really happy I could be involved. I wanted to play and it’s great that we got three points. We did the job we needed to do. There were some scary patches but it’s a great start to come here and get three points.”