Result: Arsenal 0 – 2 Manchester City
Competition: Premier League
Date: 12 August 2018
Venue: The Emirates Stadium
Arsenal start the season with a loss to champions, Manchester City. Sterling put City 1-0 up in the first half with a shot from outside the box while, all game, Arsenal were trying to implement their new tactic of playing out from the back with mixed results. Bernardo Silva scored the second goal for City.
The Arsenal Team
Starting XI: Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Maitland-Niles, Guendouzi, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Mhkitaryan, Aubameyang
Subs: Leno, Holding, Lichtsteiner, Elneny, Torreira, Iwobi, Lacazette
1′ – KEEPING IT TIGHT WITH A 4-3-3
Arsenal start with what seems to be a 4-3-3 formation to cover space in midfield. It’s a big game for young Guendouzi who has shone in pre-season but he will have to learn fast against the champions. And what’s that you hear? Oh, just the sound of every Arsenal fan nervously biting their nails looking at that centre back pairing.
1 – FULL BACKS HIGH AND WIDE IN ATTACK
The full backs are moving up high while Guendouzi and Xhaka take turns to drop in and distribute the ball from deep. The team is hell bent on playing from the back.
3′ – YELLOW CARD STERLING
Sterling catches Guendouzi late when pressing the young midfielder.
7′ – CECH SAVES TWICE
Great link play between Walker and Mahrez to cross in the box but Cech smothers the ball away. City counter again, ending with Sterling dancing through the defence and a weak Mustafi tackle only to have the shot palmed away by the Czech.
11′ – ARSENAL PRESSING HIGH
Arsenal try to win back the ball through a series of tackles from the midfield. Ramsey is up high as a second striker to press alongside Aubameyang.
13 – ⚽ GOAL MAN CITY 0-1
Sterling skips across the midfield and scores from just outside the box. Took a slight deflection but City press their advantage well.
16′ – CECH PALMS THE BALL AWAY AGAIN
Ozil tracks back to try cover Mendy’s overlapping run. Mendy’s low cross is pushed out for a corner.
20′ – BELLERIN SHOT SAVED!
Bellerin receives a cross field pass from Maitland-Niles, skips past Mendy and shoots directly at the keeper from outside the box. Best chance so far for Arsenal.
20′ – AGUERO HITS SIDE NETTING FROM COUNTER
City pushes back and culminating with Aguero attempting a shot from the inside left area.
21′ – CECH ALMOST SCORES OWN GOAL
YIKES! Cech receives a close to the goal and his intended pass to the right wing awkwardly skims closely along the line, to far post. That would have been one for the blooper reel. We escape with a corner.
25′ – ARSENAL MISSING FINAL PASS
Aubameyang has been lurking across that back line and Ramsey has been pressing hard but we’re missing that spark.
26′ – YELLOW CARD SOKRATIS
Xhaka loses possession in midfield and Aguero sprints towards goal. The Greek takes down the on-rushing striker just outside the box.
27′ – CECH SAVES FREE KICK AND REBOUND
Cech dives to the bottom right to save Mahrez’s rocket but spills it into Laporte. He valiantly deflects the follow up. He’s saved us a few times today, the veteran keeper.
29′ – MAITLAND-NILES v WALKER
Maitland-Niles goes toe to toe with the mercurial right back and shields the ball well but may have injured himself in the process. Things don’t look good for the youngster as he limps to get treatment but steps back onto the pitch soon after. Good thing that Welbeck has been training at left back.
32′ – GOOD BREAK BY ARSENAL
Ramsey nutmegs Laporte at the halfway line and lays off the ball to Ozil who threads a pass to Mhkitaryan but the defenders clear it away.
34′ – SUBSTITUTION
Maitland-Niles goes off for Lichtsteiner. We’re really afraid how he’s going to take on the pace of Walker and Mahrez. He needs all his dirty tricks to solidify the left hand side.
41′ – MAHREZ SHOOTS JUST WIDE
A couple of stepovers on the inside right and he tries to curl it to the far post but the ball goes just wide.
41′ – IRONIC CHEERS FOR CECH
A long pass out from the keeper is met by ironic cheers from fans who have seen enough of the build up play that Arsenal have been attempting. Fans do have to be patient while the team is learning this new system. Maybe Cech might not be the right keeper to play in this manner?
44′ – AUBAMEYANG MISS
Arsenal break on the counter and the forward just doesn’t catch the ball right with a knuckle ball from outside the box.
45′ + 1′ – MHKITARYAN PENALTY CLAIM
Nice one-two between Ramsey and Mhki at the edge of the box but the Armenian shoots wide under pressure from Mendy. He calls for a penalty to deaf ears.
HALF-TIME: ARSENAL 0 – 1 MAN CITY
It’s been a nervy first half for fans as Arsenal constantly tries to play out from the back. The execution hasn’t been perfect but there has been signs of good play despite City dominating. The spotlight has been on Cech who has made some good saves but also provided anxious moments on the ball.
46′ – LACAZETTE WARMS UP
Will he be subbed on the 70th minute as a tribute to the good ol’ days?
49′ – AGUERO SHOT DEFLECTED FOR CORNER
A shot from outside the box got a slight touch and goes out for a corner. The defence freezes a little whenever the Argentine gets on the ball.
51′ – YELLOW CARD XHAKA
Xhaka stretches a lazy leg to stop Aguero who skipped past him. That yellow was never in doubt.
52′ – SUBSTITUTION
History has been made! A tactical sub before the 70 minute mark. Lacazette comes on for Ramsey. Aubameyang goes left and Ozil takes up a central role.
55′ – LACAZETTE SHOOTS JUST WIDE
Guendouzi harries City to win the ball back and start a counter. Lacazette slices his half volley just wide with the outside of his foot. Laca has added a good verve to Arsenal’s attack. More of the same please.
57′ – LICHTSTEINER v LAPORTE
We see the Swiss raising his finger against Laporte. He claims there was a headbutt from Laporte in the lead up to the corner taken but it was not heeded by the ref.
57′ – SUBSTITUTION
Kevin De Bruyne comes on for Mahrez. It’s going to be a baptism of fire for Lichtsteiner.
62′ – GET IN, CECH!
Guendouzi misjudges the ball’s bounce as the last defender on a corner. Aguero races through on goal. Cech saves the one-on-one opportunity excellently.
63′ – ⚽ GOAL CITY
Bernardo Silva makes a run into the middle from the right and hits a fierce first time strike from a Mendy cut back. Excellent technique and movement which caught the defenders flat footed.
65′ – PENALTY CLAIM DENIED
Mendy had his hands over Mustafi while defending a corner. Mustafi goes down but no penalty. Where’s VAR when you need it?
69′ – SUBSTITUTION
Torreira comes on for Xhaka. On a side note, Lacazette is really knitting the play well from the front.
70′ – SKY HIGH
Guendouzi shoots the ball into Row Z from outside the box.
72′ – YELLOW CARD DE BRUYNE
De Bruyne rakes down the ankle of Torreira to earn a yellow.
74′ – “ARSENE WENGER, HE’S WON MORE THAN YOU.”
Great banter from our fans to the City away faithful.
78′ – SUBSTITUTION
Gabriel Jesus comes on for Aguero.
79′ – OZIL MISS
Lichtsteiner cuts back from the left but the ball bobbles a little bit and Ozil mishits it and the ball goes out for a goal kick. Good chance missed.
82′ – C’MON REF! (again)
Lacazette wins the ball fairly against Fernandinho but it was deemed a foul.
83′ – OOOOHHH
Ederson makes a rare mistake in passing out to Ozil. Ozil makes an uncharacteristically bad touch and Ederson collects the ball to his relief.
84′ EXCELLENT TACKLE BY SOKRATIS
It was 4 v 3 in our box and Sokratis made a last ditch save to clear it away.
86′ – SUBSTITUTION
Sterling goes off for Sane.
89′ – ANOTHER POTENTIAL CALAMITY
While in the box, Cech tries to pass the ball laterally to a defender but gets pressed by Jesus and gets his pass blocked. Arsenal escape again.
90′ + 1′ – SO CLOSE
Bellerin cuts the ball for Lacazette but skies the ball high.
90′ + 3′ – DE BRUYNE THUNDERBOLT
Cech tips a rocket of a shot from De Bruyne over the bar.
FULL TIME ARSENAL 0 – 2 MAN CITY
Arsenal lose their opening game to Manchester City in a match that may have come too early for the Gunners who are still warming up to Emery’s new tactics. The game plan was evident as Arsenal tried to play out of the back and press upfront with mixed results. That said, the team looked a bigger threat when Lacazette come on to lead the line. Let’s hope we can improve as the season progresses and that Maitland-Niles’ injury isn’t too bad.