It’s good to be back! Manchester City took Arsenal apart at the Etihad with a comfortable 3-0 win to see Pep Guardiola’s men return to Premier League football with a bang. Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne won the three points before Phil Foden wrapped up the game late on.
Here’s how we rated the players…
Eric García – 7.5
It is unusual to start with a centre-back, but I really wanted to begin by saying I hope Eric is OK after that horrible accident late in the match. It was awful for City fans, and all football fans I’m sure, to watch him on the floor for so long, and I know we all wish him well in the immediate aftermath of the clash.
Before the incident, I was going to say that Eric was a credit to himself and his team in this game. It speaks volumes that Laporte is maybe the only in the squad I trust more in defence than García. He was a big part of a defence that barely gave Arsenal a sniff, looking composed and calm. He deserves regular minutes for the rest of the season, as soon as tonight’s unknown injury allows.
Ederson – 7
Faultless with his hands, sensational with his feet- vintage Ederson. Arsenal didn’t test our ‘keeper all too much, so he showed off his skills in other ways, including with some beautiful passes to our forwards. One in particular landed right at the feet of Riyad Mahrez just outside the penalty box and could have been one of the best assists of the season. Not many goalkeepers can claim to be aggrieved that they don’t get more assists!
He did almost murder Eric García, which wasn’t great, but I can look past that as he promises it was an accident.
Kyle Walker – 7
No complaints about this performance from the man who’s kept Joao Cancelo locked out of the team all season. Walker defended faultlessly, didn’t put a foot wrong and was an important piece of the puzzle in possession. He also had some highlights going forward, and like Ederson was unlucky not to come away with an assist.
Aymeric Laporte – 7
Imperious, just as we’ve come to expect from the Frenchman. It’s true that he was up against an assortment of young Arsenal forwards and midfielders, but he still had to keep one of the best strikers in the world quiet. We’re lucky to have Aymeric, and if he’d stayed fit all season we might have given Liverpool a proper title race.
Benjamin Mendy- 7
I felt Mendy was very solid throughout, overall. He’ll have tougher tests defensively but come on, it’s City… in more games than not, he’ll be asked to play more or less how he did today, helping us dominate possession and keep the ball ticking over. There were a few moments between him and Sterling which reminded us that they haven’t played together in a while, but this is hardly Mendy’s fault, and he still shows plenty of his old attacking ability. If he can stay injury-free for a little while longer, the confidence will surely come back, and it’s only uphill from here.
İlkay Gündoğan – 7
For most of the game, Ilkay’s job was the same as usual- keep the ball moving around the pitch, be reliable in the middle of the park, don’t give the ball away. He mostly did that job well. However, I felt that he was unusually sloppy in attacking areas, often looking out of place around the Arsenal box. There were a few times when I wondered if Silva or De Bruyne might have been the better option to receive the ball in those positions. Still, a good game overall.
David Silva – 7
El Mago hasn’t been great on the whole this season, but this game proved he’s still got it. The little magician was silky smooth throughout, almost never surrendering the ball. If this match is anything to go by, we may have Silva back to his best for his final few months in a City shirt.
Kevin de Bruyne – 8.5 (MOTM)
Ran the show throughout despite a slightly slow start, putting his unique passing range on full display to pick Arsenal apart. There was a touch of fortune about his assist for Sterling’s goal, as David Luiz basically let it run through him, but our Belgian maestro earned his luck with an emphatic performance. In the second half his day got even better as he cooly dispatched a penalty, suggesting that he might be our permanent spot-kick taker- we’ll see if he still takes them when Sergio Agüero is on the pitch.
Riyad Mahrez – 7.5
After a fairly quiet first half, Mahrez did brilliantly to win the penalty that doubled City’s lead – he would almost certainly have scored had he not been fouled, as he did exceptionally to beat David Luiz (who got a game-changing red card for his troubles). Riyad has become such a big part of this City side over the course of the season, and it’s fantastic to see such an exciting player getting regular starts.
Gabriel Jesus – 7
Everyone knows what kind of player Jesus is by now. He might not be a goal threat every minute of every game, but you can always rely on him to ensure that the opposition centre-backs won’t have an easy game. Today, that side of him was on full show- the Brazilian buzzed around the Arsenal defence like an electric mosquito, never letting them rest. One of Jesus’s strengths is that he’s never scared to come deep to get involved in the build-up or win the ball back, even if that leaves him a long way from goal at times.
Raheem Sterling – 8
After a couple of moments which were below his usual standard in the first half, Raheem opened the scoring with a vicious finish that emphasised his technical quality as he made a perfect run and left Leno with no chance. Six months ago, Raheem was one of the best players in the league – let’s hope that goal indicates his confidence is back for good. If we want a chance to win this Champions League, we need him at his peak.
Bernardo Silva – 6
Settled in nicely and looked silky as usual, although he didn’t have time to be at the forefront of the match.
Phil Foden – 7
I was pleasantly surprised with how early Phil came onto the pitch and once again he slotted right in. There were some really lovely touches and it’s been a long time since I’ve felt that Foden is a big step down in quality from David Silva. That’s no slight on Silva, it just shows how good the Stockport Iniesta has become already. It was fantastic to watch him get a goal off the bench late on, even if I was still reeling a bit from the García incident. Foden scored because he anticipated the potential rebound and got in the right place.
Rodri – N/A
No real time to mark
Fernandinho – N/A
No real time to mark
Sergio Agüero – N/A
No real time to mark, unlucky to hit the post late on.
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