Arsenal 0 Manchester City 2: Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva goals see Premier League champions put Unai Emery's Gunners to the sword



Unai Emery’s first programme notes began with a vow to make Arsenal one of the best sides in Europe. He may be heading in the right direction but, in this 2-0 defeat to Manchester City, he was given a tough reminder of how far his new side must go to compete with the continent’s finest clubs.
Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva provided the killer blows for Pep Guardiola’s side, who looked every inch the Premier League
champions who had stormed to the title last season.
The first match Arsenal have played without Arsene Wenger in the dugout since a 2-0 win over Sunderland on September 28, 1996, began with optimism on and off the pitch. That will not be entirely quelled by this result but this was a reality check; a warning that Emery’s appointment alone will not take the Gunners back to their peak.
With the Clock End as vocal as it has been in years, Arsenal darted forth with verve and energy. Emery has made no secret of his desire to turn this squad, so supplicant in recent years, into an aggressive, high-pressing machine. Briefly, it worked.
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City were forced back, unable to dictate the tempo. Arsenal’s new approach was typified when they pinned City back off their own throw by the corner flag, forcing a Pep Guardiola side to boot the ball long. Sokratis Papastathopoulos provided the clearing header; Aaron Ramsey darted forward, but saw his edge of the area punt saved by Ederson.
Still this was vibrant. Most importantly of all it was different. It lasted less than 15 minutes, by which time City had remembered they are more than capable of passing through even the most energetic of presses.
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Arsenal had been warned when Sterling slalomed past Shkodran Mustafi not once but twice before drawing a fine save by Petr Cech. They did not heed that lesson.
Moments later Sterling had driven infield past Hector Bellerin and Matteo Guendouzi as if they weren’t there. Cech was blindsided by a clutch of defenders not closing down an attacker but still ought to have done more, not even putting up a hand in defiance.
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The customary Arsenal response to an early setback has been to throw in the towel, and there were worrying moments from the old guard. Granit Xhaka was a liability in possession while Cech nearly contrived to kick the ball into his own net as he tried to pass to Bellerin.
Emery’s headache only grew worse when Ainsley Matiland-Niles, the nearest he had to a fit left-back, was unable to continue after a collision with Kyle Walker.
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Stephan Lichtsteiner, the 34-year-old right-back, was handed the debut assignment of holding back the explosive duo of Walker and Riyad Mahrez.
A fizzing drive by Aubameyang just before the interval was as close as Arsenal went, but it was at least a handy reminder that they had the players to wrestle their way back into the contest.
When there was no sign of improvement early in the second period Emery did not delay. Off came Ramsey, Alexandre Lacazette taking his place. A snapshot that flew just wide from the Frenchman immediately re-energised the Emirates.
Once more it couldn’t last. Aguero could have burst the bubble when he pounced on Guendouzi’s error on halfway but, one-on-one, Cech stayed big and got down swiftly to block the shot. Seconds later Bernardo made them pay, drifting away from Lichtsteiner and whipping the ball into the bottom corner.
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Unlike in their meetings last season, Arsenal did not simply roll over when the game had slipped away from them - but a clumsy touch from Ozil when Ederson gifted possession to him was emblematic of his display and that of his team-mates.
It should not surprise anyone that this brilliant City side are better than Emery’s new side. This, though, was a reminder that the gap between the two has become a chasm since Guardiola arrived on these shores.