Man City 3-1 Arsenal
With limp performances not long in the memory the prospect of an away day in the blue half of Manchester was not an attractive prospect. Add to that the injury crisis in defence and a transfer window which brought in yet another attacking midfielder with barely 60 minutes playing time under his belt and no defenders, the genuine feeling was one of...
The team news brought the decision of Lichtsteiner over Jenkinson, experience over youth, no Xhaka and a brave 4-4-2 formation, what could possibly go wrong?
Arsenal: Leno, Lichtsteiner, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Kolasinac, Guendouzi, Torreira, Iwobi, Lacazette, Aubameyang
Plan A would probably gone along the lines of...
"keep it tight boys",
"don't do anything rash",
"keep it simple", "try and settle, grow into the game".
Plan B was need after about 30 seconds!
With City getting in behind Lichtsteiner in their first attack the ball fell to Guendouzi who played the ball calmly to Iwobi just on the edge of the box. Now in this scenario a normal reaction would be to launch the ball forward to your striker, however with both Arsenals front men defending deep, Iwobi chose to dilly and dally (like he does), got caught in possession and one pass later Augero was on hand for his first tap in of the day! 1-0 Citeh! and a god awful start, the stench of Wenger written all over it.
As calamitous starts go, it was right up there and many feared and absolute onslaught, but despite further nervous moments Arsenal actually did settle a bit. The formation works when you have a strong midfielder base who can cover, however the holes on both flanks were obvious, and that space would haunt Arsenal throughout the game.
An equaliser did come via the head of Koscielny after a corner straight out of the history books, near post flick on, back post header, stuff of Bouldy and Adams' dreams!
10 mins and 1-1, no so disastrous after all?
Well Mustafi did his best to make it worse with the sort of stupid he pulls out of his locker in most games, a foul that should have been a penalty, luckily the officials chose to let Arsenal off that one.
Leno was called into action a couple of times and there were good last ditch challenges and clearances from Torreira, Guendouzi was looking confident in midfield, spraying balls round with confidence and an infectious energy. As half time approached, Arsenal were in a good place having weathered the storm and grown into the game, Plan A was beginning to work!
Again Arsenal shot themselves in the foot with poor defending and decision making. Iwobi failing to close down on the edge of the area and Lichtsteiner greeting sucked into a one two, the result, another tap in for Augero! Monreal not covering himself in glory either!
It felt like a sucker punch Arsenal would struggle to get over.
No changes at the break and if anyone felt Arsenal would fight back or show some sort of rear guard action in the second 45 they were sadly disappointed.
A half totally dominated by May City and zero attempts on goal by Arsenal. The only action coming from the bench with Mustafi going off in a "please god I can't take it anymore" look on his face, being replaced by "The Young Greek Defender", Mavropanos and Ramsey going on with new boy Suarez replacing Kolasinac and Iwobi.
There was another goal from City, again coming down the left with Lichtsteiner just on his knees at that point. Straight cross from Sterling and the third tap in from Augero, this time via an arm but hey, they deserved many more on the day!
A special mention for Suarez or should I say the lack of Ozil. The introduction of the the 'great new hope' was greeted with surprise. If Arsenal needed someone to change the game or create just one chance than surely Ozil would have been the call. As Denis Denis, ran around for a bit looking completely lost, it felt like a point being made by the coach rather than anything positive for the side. Poor from Unai!
As the final whistle went it was a relief for all Arsenal fans. A 3-1 scoreline which could have been a lot worse and apart from a few moments in the first a reality check on where this team is right now. Around 6th and the league doesn't lie!
POSITIVES: Guendouzi looking the part and the LA RAMS losing the Super Bowl.
NEGATIVES: Stan Kronke in general.
Leno: Must wonder when he's going to get a defence in front of him. 7/10
Lichtsteiner: Just stop it. 1/10
Koscielny: "Someone help me", nice header for the goal. 5/10
Mustafi: Get in a cab with Lichtstenier. 2/10
Monreal: Poor for the second goal and looking his age sadly. 4/10
Kolasinac: Huffed and puffed, blew nothing down. 5/10
Guendouzi: Looked like a man playing with boys. MOM: 8/10
Torreira: Worked hard but given too much to do. 7/10
Iwobi: Just stop it, sit on the bench for a bit and give someone else a go. 3/10
Lacazette: Ran all day with little service. 7/10
Aubameyang: Didn't fancy running all day. 6/10
Mavropanos: Immediately looked better than Mustafi, like an actual defender. 6/10
Ramsey: Ran around a lot. 5/10
Suarez: Who? 2/10
Next up Huddersfield away who have barely scored a goal this year, against this defence the banter would be unbelievable!