Here are five we learned from the Etihad…
No trust in Lacazette
In what is arguably Arsenal’s biggest game of the season so far, given their chance to make a statement against a big side amidst their troubles, Arsene Wenger made the decision to drop Lacazette, his record signing, for Alex Iwobi. It’s a peculiar decision given that City’s biggest weakness is their defence.
It also sends out a message to the Frenchman that, despite the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil leaving in the summer and not committed to the club, Wenger is not willing to build a team around him. The decision looked even more ridiculous when Lacazette eventually did enter the fray and smash the ball through Ederson’s legs to pull a goal back.
Sanchez fails audition
You need only scroll through Sanchez’s Twitter mentions to see what Arsenal fans thought about his performance against the side he hoped he would be joining last summer – they were not impressed. Playing as the lone front man, he gave the ball away on too many occasions and was guilty of vacating the central area he was chosen to fill for much of the first half.
Sanchez’s contract at the Emirates expires in the summer and he has his heart set on a reunion with former manager Pep Guardiola in Manchester, although on this performance, City don’t need him and he would be lacking the sort of playing time he needs at this point in his career. He may have just ended that City dream on one performance alone, although Guardiola knows what he is capable of.
Sterling and Sane run riot
Both Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane have forced their way to be must-starters in big games such as these and they did not disappoint – in the build up anyway. Arsenal, after switching to a back four, could not contain the two speedsters and often lost them as they dropped deep, cut inside, went wide or played on the last man at will.
The only criticism of the pair would be their end product on the day, particularly Sterling’s, with the Englishman producing a terrible pass to Sane when they were through on goal to throw the chance away. Guardiola couldn’t contain his frustrations on the sidelines but in reality he has two of the most dangerous wide-men in the Premier League at his disposal and their lightning speed will terrify teams.
Ederson is City’s quiet hero
Amongst the abundance of attacking talent, the free-flowing football, the pace of Sane and Sterling and the genius of Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva, the one thing that often gets overlooked is the contribution of goalkeeper Ederson. He is marshalling a still susceptible defence with ease and his contribution was acknowledged when he captained the side in midweek.
He was not needed to be called on for much of the game on Sunday but when he was, on the stroke of half-time, he got down low expertly to palm away Aaron Ramsey’s close-range snap-shot. It’s those sort of moments which cost City points last season with Claudio Bravo between the sticks and he could turn out to be Guardiola’s best signing of the summer.
Who can stop City?
Guardiola played down his side’s chances of emulating Sunday’s opponents and going through the whole of the season but so far there hasn’t been any challengers who look capable of troubling City’s formidable attack. Are City’s biggest rivals their own ability to keep these performances consistently high? Possibly.
But what is more likely is that on 10 December, City travel across Manchester to Old Trafford to face a defence assembled by Jose Mourinho. Can Sterling, Sane, Aguero and co. break them down? Not many teams have. City are the better team, but Mourinho is a master of ‘parking the bus’. The unstoppable force meets the immovable object?
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