For all the noise and bubble about team spirit, and the upbeat mood in the camp, Arsenal turned up to the Emirates with the jitters! They showed up with their dreadful away form of last year, making fans forget that this was, in fact, the team with the second-best home record in the Premier League.
Manchester City bossed and dominated as if they were at the Etihad. It seems the message from Pep Guardiola was simple: attack with intent and they will crumble. Sure, enough that was the case. Newly appointed vice-captain Granit Xhaka was disappointing. Xhaka gave away possession, committed needless fouls and was found wanting in his defending but what’s new? Aaron Ramsey played as a false nine when there is a proven predator in Alexandre Lacazette on the bench. Ozil who? A wanted poster was up for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Wow. There are so many questions about how the team was set up. Many have been left wondering what on earth is going on with the club?
What happened to Unai Emery? He seemed shell-shocked and unsure of what to do. Where is the pressing that fans were promised? The strong defence? High-energy football? With such a leaky defence our defensive midfielder was left on the bench. Glimpses were all we saw in contrast to City’s smooth and lethal style of play. For all Arsene Wenger’s shortcomings, you were always sure that at home, Arsenal’s attack would be fluid and potent.
What a mess. Aubameyang stood there looking pretty until Lacazette came on and injected impetus into the attack. Finally, the Gunners had momentum, the Magician Ozil did a re-appearing act and all seemed bright. But City’s second goal effectively ended the game.
As usual Arsenal fans were left asking the same questions at the end of the game. Why didn’t Lacazette and Lucas Torreira start? What difference would it have made if the team that ended the game, started the match? Are there any noticeable changes? Yes, two, we didn’t have to wait for the 60th minute for a substitute.