Arsenal 0-2 Manchester City Six Things: tough induction for Emery

Unai Emery –

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 six things from the game.

City’s early control

After weathering Arsenal’s five-minute adrenaline-based storm, City quickly gained control as their right-sided duo of Kyle Walker and Riyad Mahrez caused problems. Arsenal’s enigmatic left-sider Henrikh Mkhitaryan lacked the pace to track back effectively while the largely untested left-back Ainsley Maitland-Niles lacked the bravery to utilize his physical qualities. It came as no surprise therefore, when City opened the scoring, as Raheem Sterling escaped Matteo Guendouzi’s attentions to curl past Petr Cech.

Arsenal’s vulnerabilities out wide

When Arsenal played Manchester City last season, they were torn apart through the middle due to a soft-centred midfield. That wasn’t necessarily a problem here; Aaron Ramsey pressed well at times and Guendouzi showed plenty of energy, meaning their visitors weren’t able to play their way through at will. Because Arsenal had a narrow setup though, they relinquish territory in wide areas and that’s where Raheem Sterling was able to tease Hector Bellerin and Shkodran Mustafi, his tight-angled effort saved by Petr Cech.

Gunners’ second half endeavour

Unai Emery’s side struggled trying to play out from the back in the first half due to the limitations of key personnel, but they enjoyed a reasonable spell of pressure at the start of the second half. When Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang drifted over to the left, he and Stephan Lichtsteiner gave Kyle Walker more to think about defensively. Alexandre Lacazette meanwhile, showed his intentions by getting a shot on target within two minutes of entering the fray. Emery’s side got into better areas after the break but, when it came to providing those defining moments of quality, they still fell well short.

Bernardo bags

Sergio Aguero’s finishing was not quite as ruthless as we have come to expect; when Guendouzi was outmuscled, the Argentine was denied by Petr Cech one-on-one on the hour mark. It didn’t matter for City though as another fine break down the left through Sterling and Benjamin Mendy, who combined wonderfully in the second half, saw the ball squared for Bernardo Silva to place the ball into the top corner.

No World Cup hangover

16 Manchester City players have only recently resumed club training, following their World Cup exertions.  Going into their first two games – this match and the Community Shield last week – some questioned, including this blog, whether their players would be in the right physical condition. Those questions have been answered emphatically – and answered without the likes of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne, who along with Leroy Sane offered a frightening substitute option. Early days, of course, but comfortable wins over two big London clubs will only further public perception that they will be the team to beat.

A time for patience?

Firstly, one match against the champions doesn’t change the fact that there is absolutely potential for Arsenal to be rejuvenated by Unai Emery and push much further up the table straight away. However, it is also worth bearing in mind that when Pep Guardiola first took over at City, his impact wasn’t instantaneous: it took him 12 months to implement his philosophy and improve key areas. Arsenal have undergone massive, structural changes this summer and thus an element of patience might be required.