A 5-0 meltdown at Manchester City on Saturday left Arsenal with three goalless losses at the start of the season for the first time in their history.
Arsenal’s disastrous performance shouldn’t hurt City’s ruthless efficiency.
In the week the reigning Premier League champions missed the signing of not only Harry Kane but also Cristiano Ronaldo, existing attacking options got the job done against a squad reduced to 10 men after Granit’s expulsion Xhaka in the first half. There were two goals and an assist from Ferran Torres, and goals from Ilkay Gündoğan, Gabriel Jesus and Rodri.
“You have to take risks and you have to be brave with the ball and we didn’t,” said Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. “It’s not enough and everyone has to look at each other in the mirror and work as a team and stay together. “
Maybe we expected to lose, if not this way. It was Arsenal’s ninth consecutive loss to City, dating back to Arsene Wenger’s reign.
Unai Emery and, now Mikel Arteta, were recruited in an attempt to revive Arsenal’s fortunes. But the Gunners are looking more than ever to return to the Champions League, let alone win the title for the first time since 2004.
“Really disappointed with the things that happened on the pitch,” said Arteta. “Obviously, the summary after three games and the three losses, that does not facilitate things. “
Arteta has worked for 20 months since being hired at City where he was Pep Guardiola’s assistant.
“They trust Mikel a lot because they spend the money to strengthen the team, to do it better,” said Guardiola. “Why don’t you give the teams a little more time to build what you want to build. People want success immediately.
Now, however, Arteta has a two-week international break to face more questions about his suitability to continue as Arsenal manager.
“It’s time to reflect and look in the mirror, each of us,” said Arteta, “and try to change the dynamic immediately. “
There was nothing to show for Arsenal’s comfortable opening minutes. It was like that against Chelsea last Sunday and it ended in a 2-0 loss.
The first game was conceded even earlier this week, after just six minutes.
Left-back Kieran Tierney allowed Gabriel Jesus to beat him far too easily for the high ball. And it was on a cross from the striker that Gündoğan went to the far post of the crossbar, via a light touch from goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
Far from showing any spirit of recovery, Arsenal’s performance deteriorated further.
It was another soft goal conceded in the 12th minute.
City were able to roll out a short free-kick routine and had space for a pass exchange before Bernardo Silva’s high ball in the penalty area slipped through the defense and Torres came into play.
Arsenal were playing to tap – even Xhaka was sent off. The fourth red card in five years at Arsenal came after a two-foot lunge on João Cancelo.
What’s worse for Arsenal fans is that this calamity was unfolding right in front of the visitors section. At least they were spared from being allowed into the stadium for the losing pair at the Etihad stadium in 2020.
Some Arsenal fans had already started heading for the exit when City scored again in the 43rd minute.
Once again, Arsenal were sliced far too easily, this time in a move that started with a ball through goalkeeper Ederson’s center. Torres went on to play Jack Grealish’s left wing and the summer signing of $ 139 million drifted into the penalty area. Gabriel Jesus had the space and time to cushion the pass, then to tap into the net.
Some of those Arsenal fans, seen getting out of their seats early, clearly weren’t lining up early to drink. The empty seat pockets showed that some had had enough and left.
No surprise then that Arsenal had less than 20% of the time on the ball.
Perhaps the only comfort for Arsenal was that they only conceded twice more in the second half, eight minutes after the break.
Again, City had the freedom of Arsenal’s territory around the penalty area before Torres pushed Rodri to retreat to the bottom corner of the net.
Torres was then on target again in the 85th, moving between center-backs to peek into a header from Riyad Mahrez’s center.
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