Starting XI: Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Monreal, Kolasinac, Coquelin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Iwobi, Alexis
Subs: Macey, Debuchy, Elneny, Wilshere, Walcott, Lacazette, Giroud
Arsenal couldn’t stop Manchester City extending their Premier League unbeaten run as Arsene Wenger’s men went down 3-1 at the Etihad.
The home side squandered several chances in a dominant first half taking the lead on 19 minutes through Kevin De Bruyne’s clinical finish. Sergio Aguero doubled the advantage from the penalty spot three minutes after the break after Nacho Monreal was harshly adjudged to have fouled Raheem Sterling.
Substitute Alexandre Lacazette did reduce the deficit with a cool finish only for Gabriel Jesus, off the bench, to put the game to bed on 74 minutes.
Arsenal didn’t have to wait long for a first warning of City’s attacking prowess as six sky blue shirts charged forward in unison after Arsenal lost possession from an early corner. Aguero flashed high and wide of Cech’s near post.
Francis Coquelin’s inclusion in the starting line-up appeared to signal an intention to return to a back four, however, it became clear immediately that the Frenchman had been asked to operate in the heart of defence between Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal.
Arsenal were bright enough in the opening stages and showed an eagerness to press up the pitch but clear cut chances were few and far between despite some good movement in the final third. Iwobi skied over from range, Ozil scuffed wide and Alexis messed up a free-kick from 30-yards.
Initial optimism soon wore off though as City slowly started to take a stranglehold. The home side really should have taken the lead on 10 minutes as Aguero and Sane combined to put the ball on a plate for Sterling. Three yards out from goal, under pressure from Kolasinac, he couldn’t connect and the chance went begging.
Nine minutes later, after a succession of poor passes by Arsenal, De Bruyne made City’s pressure pay. He’d just had a snap shot saved by Cech but after Sane kept the ball alive, the Belgian came back into play, dodged a tackle on the edge of the area and fired a low shot through Koscielny’s legs to the far post. Cech got his fingers to it, but it wasn’t enough. (1-0)
City might have been out of sight by half time had they been more clinical. David Silva flashed a ball across Cech’s goalline, Sterling miscued a pass to Sane that would have left the German one-on-one with Cech and Koscielny nearly put a Walker cross in his own net.
Arsenal’s best moment of the half came in stoppage time as Ramsey forced keeper Edersen into a decent stop at his near post.
Three minutes into the second half, City doubled their lead. Fernandinho found Sterling with a chipped ball inside Kolasinac and although Monreal did well to get across the England international, both men went down inside the penalty box. Michael Oliver had no hesitation pointing to the spot (it looked harsh) and Aguero, who earlier in the week became City’s highest ever scorer, converted off the post. Cech, as usual, went the wrong way. (2-0)
Iwobi came close to reducing the deficit on 54 minutes as Edersen fumbled his effort from the edge of the box. Ramsey took the opportunity to barge the Brazilian and the ball into the net. A cheer from the away support went up, quickly met by the referee’s whistle. A clear foul.
Needing goals, Wenger replaced Coquelin with Lacazette and we went with four at the back. Our record signing went straight into the book for pulling Silva down after a poor pass. Soon after he helped himself to a goal with a deadly low finish to polish off a decent through ball by Ramsey. (2-1)
City were sparked back into action. Bellerin blocked a Sane volley at close quarters and from the resulting corner Cech made a superb stop to deny Gabriel Jesus, on as a sub for Aguero. The veteran keeper had to be alert at the next corner as De Bruyne tried to catch him out at his near post.
With 16 minutes remaining City killed the game with their third. Silva looked offside as he ghosted behind the Gunners defence and while the hands of the men in black went up in unison the Spaniard picked out Jesus who calmly tapped home. Xhaka, incensed, got booked for complaining. Replays showed it was very tight and probably offside. Not that that is much consolation. (3-1)
Defeat sees Arsenal fall to sixth on goal difference below Liverpool and we’re now 12 points behind Pep Guardiola’s side who appear to be running away with things right now. We’re into another Interlull now and then it’s the North London derby on 18 November at the Emirates.