Brutal. Absolutely brutal. There’s no point in going into Arsenal’s deficiencies again we know what they are and in truth they weren’t the overriding reason this game ended as it did. Manchester City were at their brutal, beguiling best tonight.
Arsenal started brightly enough and kept trying to spring Welbeck and Aubameyang early but were thwarted by Ederson playing sweeper keeper to perfection. Ramsey and Mkhitaryan combined a couple of times to bring decent saves from the Brazilian keeper. And then the roof caved in.Embed from Getty Images
Leroy Sane received the ball on the left hand side and danced and pirouetted through the Arsenal defence before squaring to Bernardo Silva on the edge of the area. The Portuguese winger promptly cut inside Kolasinac and floated a curling shot past Cech. A goal conceded after a quarter of an hour was not what Arsenal’s brittle confidence needed but to be to them their heads didn’t drop and they carried on mounting a spirited attack of Ederson’s goal.
However just before the half hour mark they were undone again by the electric Sane, the German danced down the left wing again before laying it off to Aguero, who promptly cushioned it to David Silva, the Spaniard’s first touch was gorgeous. Shock. His next swept it high past Cech. Five minutes later Aguero received the ball on the half way line, turned and drove at the Arsenal goal his lay off to de Bruyne was promptly sent forward by way of a nutmegged through ball to Kyle Walker who rolled it across to Sane who trickled in the third.Embed from Getty Images
Three beautiful goals in 33 minutes, this was as good as it gets. Aguero should have made it four minutes later as de Bruyne went past the hapless Kolasinac and an other chance led to a Cech catch that brought ironic cheers from the half full stadium.
Any chance Arsenal had of a comeback was extinguished when Aubameyang missed a penalty at the start of the second half. Otamendi fouled Mkhitaryan in the clumsiest way possible. Aubameyang’s run up was far too straight and easily signposted which way he was going, that coupled with the ball being nowhere near the corner meant Ederson made the save.
The rest of the second half was a tepid affair with only the bizarre sight of Guardiola’s tactic sheets being blown across the pitch and Cech and Ederson both rushing out wildly to keep the onlooker amused. Cech denied Aguero again with a smart stop as Manchester City played out the match and went sixteen points clear.Embed from Getty Images
It’s hard to be too critical of Arsenal tonight. They weren’t the omnishambles of the cup final, and were spirited enough while being thoroughly outclassed. This was the greatest team performance of the season as the long term planning and philosophy of Manchester City and Guardiola again came to fruition. The best forward planning at Arsenal seems to be by the groundsman who painted the lines blue to combat the forecasted snow. And as the specks of snow drifted across the empty Emirates it brought over a strange ennui which makes you wonder just what is next in this increasingly calamitous Arsenal season.
Arsenal 4213 Cech; Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Kolasinac; Ramsey, Xhaka; Ozil; Mkhitaryan, Welbeck, Aubameyang
Manchester City 433 Ederson; Walker(Zinchenko 72), Kompany, Otamendi, Danilo; Gundogan, De Bruyne, D Silva(Jesus 87), B Silva, Sane, Aguero(Toure 82)
Man of the Match: Leroy Sane. Dazzling , balletic yet brutal an absolutely sublime performance saw the German create two and score one.
Written by Gary Robinson.