Arsenal were undone by a rampant Kevin De Bruyne and a clinical Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium in Sunday’s late Premier League encounter. Two goals in the opening 10 minutes effectively put City on their way to a fifth consecutive win against the Gunners before De Bruyne put the game beyond doubt before the break in the 3-0 win.
The unplayable De Bruyne put the visitors ahead after just two minutes with an excellent finish from just inside the area, the Belgian finishing Gabriel Jesus’s cross high into the roof of the net despite their being six outfield Arsenal players between him and the goal. Goalscorer De Bruyne then turned provider as he set up Raheem Sterling to double the Citizens’ advantage before he found the scoresheet again with a third before the break; a stunning left-footed finish.
The continuing industry of Gabriel Martinelli was the only ray of light for disgruntled Arsenal fans. The Brazilian enjoyed an electric start to the game. Arsenal did enjoy long spells of possession in the second half, but you had the feeling City had not only taken their foot off the gas but actually switched off the engine.
This was the sixth game in a row in which Arsenal had gone a goal behind, and overall Freddie Ljungberg’s men were exposed far too easily, his midfield and makeshift back four unable to deal with City on the break. The Gunners rarely threatened at the other end, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a mere spectator. To make matters worse, the Gunners’ boss lost Sead Kolasinac to injury to further trouble his defensive woes. It’s now five home league games without a win.
Manager rating out of 10
3 – Not a good afternoon for the Swede, who’s side’s high press didn’t work as he saw his back line exposed too easily and too frequently. Unfortunately, Arsenal’s soft underbelly was evident, while Ljungberg’s substitutions did little to change the ebb and flow of the game.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Bernd Leno 5 – Could do very little about either of De Bruyne’s finishes or Sterling’s goal, but he denied the Belgian a hat trick with a stunning save to his left to tip the ball onto the post. In the second half, he reacted quickly to save at Jesus’s expense after Sokratis and Calum Chambers gifted City possession.
DF Ainsley Maitland-Niles 4 – Had a quiet first half but delivered Arsenal’s first real testing cross of the afternoon in the second, his teasing ball finding Aubameyang, who headed wide under pressure.
DF Calum Chambers 2 – Was guilty of losing Jesus to his right before the Brazilian cut the ball back across the area to De Bruyne for City’s first. Then showed De Bruyne too much time before deflecting the Belgian’s cross into Sterling’s path for the second. Exposed again in the second half. A poor afternoon overall.
DF Sokratis 3 – Had a difficult afternoon, though a challenge on De Bruyne early in the second half earned warm applause from the hapless Gunners’ faithful. Guilty of a number of hospital passes around his own area. Booked in the second on the afternoon for his fifth yellow card of the season.
DF Sead Kolasinac 3 – The Bosnian defender was flat footed for City’s second goal and he was unable to react to De Bruyne’s deflected pass across the face of goal, leaving Sterling on his own at the back post to finish. Was injured following a tackle by Rodri and was subsequently substituted.
MF Lucas Torreira 3 – Could do little to stop the blue wave in the first half though he attempted to press the visitors high up the pitch. When he ventured forward in the second half, receiving a ball from Mesut Ozil on the edge of the area, he sent the ball into orbit. Substituted with 10 minutes left on the clock.
MF Matteo Guendouzi 3 – Could do little to stem the City tide but came close to pulling a goal back with a shot that was blocked by Fernandinho. The youngster was given a bit of a footballing lesson by his opposing counterparts.
MF Nicolas Pepe 3 – The Frenchman struggled to stand out though he showed some nice touches. A drag back in the first half in particular earned applause. More is expected from him in these big games, however.
MF Mesut Ozil 3 – The German could do little to influence the proceedings and he was restricted to free kicks and speculative crosses from distance. His afternoon was perhaps best summed up when he misjudged a pass from Pepe before going out for a throw-in. Substituted just before the hour mark.
MF Gabriel Martinelli 6 – Fresh from his goal against West Ham six days earlier, Martinelli was Arsenal’s liveliest player by some distance. First, his driving run in the first minute and subsequent shot forced Ederson into an early save to force a corner, before he beat Kyle Walker to trouble the Brazilian again with a cross-shot. Arsenal’s only real source of positivity all afternoon.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 4 – The Gabonese striker cut a forlorn figure, and he could have counted on one hand his number of touches in the first half. He did however come close with a header straight after half-time under pressure from Nicolas Otamendi. A speculative effort 18 minutes from time failed to trouble Ederson.
MF Emile Smith Rowe 5 – The 19-year-old came on for Ozil to make his Premier League debut. Made some incisive short passes and fared better than his more experienced teammates. Looked comfortable on the ball.
FW Bukayo Saka 4 – The Ealing-born winger came on for the injured Kolasinac and could only watch on as he waited to enter the proceedings when De Bruyne scored his second and City’s third. Showed a willingness to get forward in the second half and tried to set Martinelli free when possible.
MF Joe Willock NR – Came on late on and didn’t have an impact.