As expected, things took off to a flying start at the Etihad. Pep Guardiola and his team picked up proceedings from where they had left before the unprecedented break occasioned by Covid-19. This time round, the unlucky visitors were Pep’s former assistant, Mikel Arteta and the Gunners’ battalion.
In respect and solidarity, to George Floyd and the “Black Lives Matter” campaign, all the players and officials took a knee before kick-off. Furthermore, players donned jerseys that read “Black Lives Matter” in place of their names.
Both teams started the game with what seemed like well-choreographed passes and movements as they battled to dominate possession and ultimately control of the first half. It wasn’t easy to differentiate the two teams in the opening minutes. As the game drew closer to half time, the contrast in class began to show as Manchester City grew dominant by the minute. Bernd Leno, Arsenal’s goalkeeper did his best to thwart attempts on his goal as waves of City’s attacks became more prevalent. Arsenal, who had lost their captain Granit Xhaka in the 5th minute, had their problems compounded when Pablo Mari pulled with what seemed to be a lower limb injury.
Manchester City’s relentless attacks finally bore fruit when the ball skidded off David Luiz (who had replaced the injured Pablo Mari) and fell kindly for Raheem Sterling to strike home the opener almost at the stroke of half time.
A goal down and having been forced to make two substitutions due to injuries, Arteta’s men looked like they needed a break to re-strategize. Unlike the biblical David, Luiz was at fault again as he mis-read a pass and ended up fouling Ryiad Mahrez in the penalty area. Anthony Taylor, the center referee did not hesitate to correctly award Manchester City a penalty and send David Luiz for an early shower. Kevin De Bruyne stepped up to take the resultant penalty and slotted in City’s second goal. After the sending off decision, Manchester City dominated proceedings as the 10 men of Arsenal tried their best to remain relevant in the game.
The cherry on the cake was delivered when, City’s protégé, Phil Foden, tapped in from a Sergio Aguero effort that had come off the upright.
3-0 in favor on the Citizens, who even in the absence of their loyal fans, could still produce an outstanding display, is indicative of their ability to find and utilize a chink in the armory of those who stand between them and victory to inflict serious damage. Manchester City continue with their quest of consolidate second position in the league as they wrap up the remaining fixture. Arsenal are a distant 9th, 42 points off the league leaders, Liverpool.
Author: Jectan Oitang’or.
Head of Fitness & Sports, Fursa Africa.
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