Arsenal v Manchester City verdict by Gooner Fanzine editor Kevin Whitcher
PUBLISHED: 22:17 12 August 2018
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We’re introducing a new post-match reaction piece by fans this season writes Layth Yousif. First up is Gooner Fanzine editor Kevin Whitcher who gives his opinion on the first match of the Unai Emery era as Manchester City ruin his Emirates debut by beating Arsenal 2-0 on Sunday. Read on for more
The defeat against Manchester City was disappointing, but unsurprising.
The bookies had the visiting team as odds on to win the match, an unusual occurrence for an Arsenal home game, but an accurate reflection of where both teams stand. Pep Guardiola has built a title winning squad playing in the style he wants after an underwhelming first season, aided by City’s financial muscle.
Unai Emery has a similar task ahead of him, although has less money to return Arsenal to the top table.
The difference was obvious in the match today. City had understanding and quality throughout the team, in spite of a relatively short pre-season.
Emery largely used players who were not at the World Cup, who he has had time to work with. But the change in approach is going to take time before it clicks properly against this level of opposition.
There were encouraging moments when Arsenal pressured City in their own third, leading to them regaining possession as Pep’s side could not play the football they wished to.
The lines of the home side were far less ragged than they often were under Wenger, with a defined 4-3-3 when City had the ball, even if the personnel were interchangeable between midfield and attack.
Petr Cech had a mixed game, good at the job of saving shots, but questionable playing the short passes that Emery wants to see from his keeper.
The manager will have a decision to make, but if Bernd Leno can prove his ability between the sticks, he will surely win out due to his better feet.
Cech almost scored one of the own goals of all time when a misplaced pass to a defender on the by-line rolled just wide of his goal.
Arsenal did create some decent chances, but quality was lacking in their finishing, and here was the critical difference. City scored two goals with accurate shooting, although it was defensive weakness that allowed Rahim Sterling’s to convert the first.
The fixture list has been cruel to Emery. His team simply are not ready for the opposition they will face in their first two games.
I fully expect Chelsea to win next Saturday, before the season begins for real against West Ham the following weekend.
That is when we will get a better idea of Arsenal’s true level, as there can be few illusions they are going to challenge for the title this year. But they do need to be brushing aside lesser sides, not dropping cheap points, especially on the road as they did last season.
You can see what Emery is trying to do with his team.
But this was a test that came much too early. A work in progress, we cannot truly pass judgment until three months into the season.
The gap today though, was simply too great.