To be fair to Arsenal, there were very few fans and pundits that really gave us a chance of winning at ManCity last night. That is now the 7th game in as row we have lost to Pep Guardiola’s team, and that superiority was once again evident in the first game back after the restart.
Mikel Arteta may have been unbeaten in the calendar year, but it is obvious that this run was only possible because we didn’t have to face any team of the calibre of Man City or Liverpool up until now. But at least we managed to keep the Cityzens out for the first 45 mins, despite losing Granit Xhaka to injury right at the start and Pablo Mari halfway through the first half.
David Luiz came on for Mari, and he looked far from ready to cope with a marauding Man City, and it was little surprise that his sloppy play allowed Raheen Sterling to score City’s first goal deep into injury time in the first half.
After that it was just downhill all the way. Within 5 minutes of the restart Luiz wrestled Mahrez inside the box, and with the Brazilian immediately sent off, and De Bruyne making no mistake from the spot, the game was effectively over.
Kieran Tierney summed it up nicely after the game: “We’ve worked so hard the last few months and to have such setbacks so early on in a game is never easy, especially against a team like Man City,” Tierney told Arsenal.com. “But another disappointment is that you’ve not got fans out there either, so it’s always a miss when there’s no fans.
“Nothing really went to plan. That happens in football and you need to deal with it. Tonight we gave everything we could and things just went wrong at the wrong times. We just never recovered.
“It was hard. I thought in the first half, up until the goal, we were coping well with it. Obviously the goal right before half-time kind of deflates you a little bit. Going in at half-time at 0-0, you’ve got every confidence. Even at 1-0 we still had belief, and then the red card makes it harder as well. When people are moving positions, it’s hard. A team like Manchester City are going to punish you with the ball.”
So, it is back to the drawing board for Arteta, and now he has to try and restore the players confidence and fitness for the visit to Brighton on Saturday. He certainly has a job on his hands at the moment….