The Master and the apprentice faced off yet again at Etihad stadium as Guardiola’s team without Kevin De Bryune earned a vital win to close the gap with table toppers.
Aguero was back in the starting lineup since June, as Nathan Ake, Cancelo and Bernardo Silva also made their returns. Arsenal’s deadline day signing Thomas Partey was named on bench as Xhaka, Luiz and Pepe started the game for Gunners.
Manchester City started the proceedings brightly as Mahrez curled an effort inches wide of the top-left corner after being teed up by Sterling. Augero headed a decent chance over the bar from close range as City started dominating possession. However, Arsenal looked lively on the break as Rodri was booked for a cynical foul on Saka as he attempted to break free. City’s dominance paid off in the 23rd minute when Aguero drove forward and slipped a pass to Foden, who dropped a shoulder to go past Bellerin and take a shot at the goal which was parried by Leno. However, the ball fell kindly to Sterling as he finished in the bottom-left corner.
City continued to enjoy possession as Arsenal started sitting deep in their half. Arsenal were caught playing out from the back as Augero teed up Foden whose shot was brilliantly blocked by Leno’s outstretched leg. Arsenal’s best chance of the half fell to Saka who played a neat one-two with Aubameyang and found himself in acres of space with only Ederson to beat. However, Ederson rushed forward to smother his attempt and the ball ballooned inches wide of the top-right corner. Arsenal players appealed for a penalty when Kyle Walker’s high boot nearly connected with Gabriel during a set-peice. However, VAR didn’t agree with the appeals and the half ended 1-0 to Manchester City.
It was Arsenal who started brightly in the second half as Pepe rose above Ake to meet Aubameyang’s cross, but headed straight at Ederson. Arsenal started enjoying more possession as Cancelo was lucky not to be sent off for his challenge on Tierney. Aguero, returning from the lengthy lay-off was replaced by Gundogan. Cancelo’s wonderful dribble and shot across the goal caused Luiz to stretch out his leg only for the ball to bobble agonisingly wide of the goal. Arsenal replaced Pepe and Xhaka with Nketiah and debutant Thomas Partey as they pushed for an equaliser, while Guardiola decided to close things out by replacing Foden with Fernandinho. City held on to win the game as Partey as booked on his debut for a cynical tug on Mahrez.
Guardiola was happy with his team’s performance considering the number of players sidelined due to injuries. When asked on Arteta’s inside view on Man City, he replied, “He knows our players. I don’t know his players. I don’t know their qualities, their weak points.”We can have ideas but the game belongs to the players.”We suffered in the last 10 minutes of the first half, in the second half we couldn’t make the build-up because we are not ready.“
Guardiola credited Arsenal as one of the contenders to win Premier League this season. He expressed happiness on Augero’s return after a lengthy lay-off as he works towards match fitness.
Arteta appreciated his players performances as they put up a good show against one of the best teams in the league, but lamented the fact they couldn’t put their chances away. Speaking on Willian’s position, he informed it was a tactical switch which didn’t work as expected. He expressed his disappointment on the potential penalty appeal and claimed it was not reviewed well by VAR.