Arsenal 0-2 Manchester City Player Ratings: Mendy shines

 

Unai Emery – express.co.uk

The Unai Emery era kicked-off at Arsenal on Sunday but the ex-PSG boss didn’t quite get off to the start he hoped for; a 2-0 home defeat to champions Manchester City, who got their goals from Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva. Here’s our Player Ratings from the game.

Arsenal

Petr Cech – as we saw last season, Cech didn’t at all look comfortable in possession – at one point he nearly kicked the ball into his own net while playing out from the back, a vulnerability encouraged City to press. To give the veteran his due though, he made an impressive stop from Sterling in the first half and an even more impressive one-on-one stop from Aguero after the break. 5

Hector Bellerin – struggled to contain Raheem Sterling in the first half and didn’t get forward as much as he might have liked, although when he did, his shot was powerful but hit straight at Ederson. 4
Sokratis Papastathopoulos – whenever Arsenal were caught on the counter-attack, Papastathopoulos rushed out for a tackle and potentially a cynical foul. While that might have been useful were the Greek defender one of three centre-back, with just Mustafi next to him it left The Gunners exposed. Did make one or two decent interceptions though as a result of his front-foot defending. 5
Shkodran Mustafi – the German centre-back was dazzled by Sterling’s runs at times. Given his poor form last season, he needs to do a lot of work to convince Arsenal fans that he is the centre-back to lead them further.  4
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – the former Ipswich loanee has raw physical qualities but he lacked the confidence to use them, especially in the defensive phases, when he was far too slow to close down Walker and Mahrez. Taken off in the first half due to a knock. 3

Matteo Guendouzi – the young midfielder enjoyed a roundly positive first half, intercepting loose balls and being a key influence during Arsenal’s better spells in the first half. He also lacked the bravery to challenge Sterling for the goal and was outmuscled on one or two occasions, but that aspect of his game will improve as he bulks up slightly. 6
Granit Xhaka – one or two nice passes early on but wasn’t able to become a prominent influence on the game, due to the nature of the contest. Got frustrated in the second half and was booked for a foul on Aguero. 4

Aaron Ramsey – looked willing and stole the ball in the opposing half on one or two occasions. Arsenal could have done with getting him in the game in a more prominent sense. Perhaps unfortunate to be replaced so early in the second half. 6
Mesut Ozil – showed some nice touches in the first half and was his side’s main creative outlet. Chipped in with one or two pieces of defensive work, even if he isn’t the type of player to sprint back. 6
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – lacked the raw pace and power to help his left-back combat City’s right-sided threat of Walker and Mahrez in the first half. One could forgive that to an extent if he was devastating going forward, yet the Armenian’s decision-making was poor and he wasn’t ruthless enough when presented with one of the game’s best openings. 3

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – bagged 10 in his final 13 games last season, but this was a frustrating afternoon for the Gabonese goalscorer, who had to do more work in the build-up play due to a shortage of numbers around him. Gave Waker a bit more to think about when he moved further to the left at the start of the second period, but there were also occasions when he threatened to instigate a breakaway but was led down by a lack of support. 5

Stephan Lichtsteiner (on ?) – wasn’t shy to engage in conflict when the ball was out of play but the right-footer, operating at left-back, didn’t always feel comfortable closing down Mahrez in open play. 6
Alexandre Lacazette (on 54) – the Frenchman didn’t quite have the impact he might have hoped last season, but he made his presence felt early on here, getting a shot away within two minutes of entering the fray. 6
Lucas Torreira (on 70) – got a positive reception when he came on and, certainly at the World Cup, he always looked defensively in-tune. Could prove a good signing. 5

Manchester City

Ederson Moraes – although, like Cech, the Brazilian misplaced one or two passes, he also looked comfortable in possession and was capable of picking positive passes. His shot-stopping capabilities weren’t tested an awful lot. 6

Kyle Walker – posed a real threat in the first half with his driving forward runs, which enabled him to escape Mkhitaryan. Had more to think about defensively in the second half, when Aubameyang shifted to the left, but still coped well. 7
John Stones – put one or two good challenge to halt Aubameyang-led counter-attacks and was roundly solid, even if he didn’t make as many audacious forward runs as he did in the Community Shield. 7
Aymeric Laporte – perhaps too slow to close down Lacazette’s effort in the second half, but this was an otherwise faultless display from the centre-back, who joined in January. 6
Benjamin Mendy – made some supportive runs in the first half but really came to the fore after the break. The Frenchman had the raw pace and power, as well as the intelligence, to make overlapping runs and create space for Sterling; in doing so, he also set up the second goal. 9

Fernandinho – did some excellent covering work in the first half to delay Arsenal’s counter-attacks for long enough for other midfielders to get back into their defensive position. 8
Ilkay Gundogan – kept hold of the ball effectively and did the simple things well, even if he didn’t break into the final third too often. 7
Bernardo Silva – showed some lovely touches and took his goal well, a ruthless finish into the top left-hand corner. Silva didn’t play many games centrally last season due to the form of David Silva and De Bruyne – instead he normally cut inside from the right wing – but here he showed that he is capable of doing that job. 8

Riyad Mahrez – caused all sorts of problems for Maitland-Niles in the first half due to his speed and trickery. Cleverly took time over throw-ins in the second half to manage the tempo of the game in a way that suited City. 8
Sergio Aguero – got into good positions but perhaps wasn’t quite at his ruthless best, having his shot saved one-on-one by Petr Cech. A lot of the goals Aguero scores seem to be snapshots in which he has little time to think about his effort, whereas when you put him through and ask him to dribble for longer, the lack of pace can be problematic and you might risk losing that sharpness of touch. Fair to say he’s had better games. 6
Raheem Sterling – teased Bellerin and Mustafi in an effective performance. The England international curled home the 13th minute opener from just outside the box, even if he was denied a tight-angled second by Petr Cech, then combined superbly with Mendy after the break. 8

Kevin De Bruyne (on 57) – at a time when Man City weren’t quite at their dominant best, De Bruyne came on and had a positive influence on the midfield. 7
Gabriel Jesus (on 79) – brought on to provide a counter-attacking option, the one thing Aguero isn’t. 6
Leroy Sane (on 87) – the fact City had the luxury of using arguably the best wide man in the Premier League last season is an indication of their incredible depth. 5