Arsenal’s difficult start to the season continued as they lost 5-0 at Manchester City on Saturday, with Granit Xhaka’s first-half red card only compounding the pressure on under-fire manager Mikel Arteta, whose side have lost their opening three games without scoring for the first time ever.
The Gunners, who arrived at the Etihad having lost their previous eight Premier League fixtures against City, made a terrible start after falling behind to Ilkay Gundogan’s seventh-minute header.
City doubled their lead just five minutes later through Ferran Torres’s close-range finish after yet more woeful Arsenal defending, then Xhaka saw red for a two-footed lunge on Joao Cancelo ten minutes before half-time – an incident which the Arsenal manager later admitted left him angry.
Gabriel Jesus added a third two minutes before the interval after fine approach play from Jack Grealish to end the game as a contest, with Torres heading in his second to complete the scoring six minutes from time.
Arsenal – who failed to have a single shot on target in the entire match – drop to the bottom of the table, while the champions briefly went top ahead of Saturday afternoon’s contests but have scored 10 goals in their last two games.
Man City: Ederson (6), Walker (6), Laporte (7), Dias (7), Cancelo (8), Gundogan (8), Rodri (8), Silva (8), Torres (9), Grealish (8), Jesus (8)
Subs: Sterling (8), Zinchenko (7), Mahrez (7)
Arsenal: Leno (6), Soares (5), Tierney (6), Chambers (4), Holding (7), Kolasinac (4), Xhaka (4), Odegaard (5), Saka (5), Smith Rowe (6), Aubameyang (3)
Subs: Lacazette (5), Maitland-Niles (6), Elneny (6)
Man of the match: Ferran Torres
How Arsenal slipped bottom of the table
All the pre-match talk heading into the game focussed on whether City were short in attack this season after missing out on both Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo this week, but Guardiola’s side delivered the perfect response with this five-star showing against a tame Arsenal.
In fact, it did not take the hosts long to make the breakthrough as Silva and Jesus combined down the right, before the latter’s dinked centre was headed home at the far post by of all people, City’s diminutive skipper Gundogan, who opened his account for the season after top scoring for the champions last time around.
One soon became two after yet more woeful defending from Arsenal, who failed to clear Silva’s hopeful ball into the area, with Cedric’s fluffed clearance falling straight at the feet of Torres, who could not miss from six yards out. And not even a VAR check on a possible foul by the scorer on Calum Chambers just before the goal could save the visitors.
The hosts were unsurprisingly unchanged from last Saturday’s 5-0 rout of Norwich City – the first time Pep Guardiola had named an unchanged side since October 2017 – while Arsenal made four changes to the side that were outplayed 2-0 at home by Chelsea on Sunday.
New signing Martin Odegaard, captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Calum Chambers and Sead Kolasinac all started, while Bukayo Saka had also recovered from the knee injury he picked up in the Carabao Cup win over West Brom on Wednesday.
It soon went from bad to worse for the Gunners when Xhaka was shown a straight red for a reckless, two-footed lunge on Cancelo, the experienced Swiss midfielder’s fourth Premier League red since August 2016.
And it did not take long for City to exploit their numerical advantage as Grealish set up Jesus for a simple close-range finish after a quick City break and a mesmerising run from their £100m playmaker.
That strike ended the game as a contest, with the second period largely resembling a training game in the Manchester sun as Torres headed in a late fifth to heap more pressure on Arteta as Arsenal lost a third straight game without scoring to kick off their new campaign.
Arsenal’s record-breaking start to the season – Opta stats
Arsenal have lost each of their first three league games of a season without scoring a single goal for the first time ever.
Manchester City have won their first two home Premier League games of the season by an aggregate score of 10-0, the biggest such combined score in a top-flight campaign since Liverpool’s 12-1 tally in their first two home fixtures of 1989-90.
Arsenal have lost each of their last nine Premier League meetings with Manchester City, their outright- longest-ever run of consecutive defeats against a specific opponent in their league history.
Manchester City are just the third side to win three consecutive Premier League home games by a 5+ goal margin, after the Citizens themselves (October 2017) and Chelsea (August 2010)
Arsenal mustered just one shot against Manchester City, their lowest tally in a Premier League match since 2003-04 (when Opta started recording shot data).
Manchester City named an unchanged starting XI in a Premier League match for the first time since naming the same XI against Chelsea and Stoke City in September/October 2017.
Since Mikel Arteta joined Arsenal in December 2019, the Gunners have received 10 Premier League red cards, four more than any other club in this time.
What the managers said…
City boss Pep Guardiola: “We found the goals and after the sending off from Xhaka… it was more difficult for the opponent and easier for us.
“We know in the past that Mikel [Arteta] plays almost man to man, but after that we were able to drop them and after that our position was good and after 2-0, when they play with 10 men, it was another game.
“So we get another goal, we respect the opponent and what they have to do, and we get the victory.
“He [Arteta] has evolved beyond a good man, the correct personality, the leading, his love for all of us. We were sad when he left and sometimes people expect results immediately.
“The squad that he played today was not the squad that he dreamed (of) because he has injuries, really important players. Ben White and examples like that.
“He can’t produce the players he needs to do it. All the managers need the squad. All our players except Kevin [De Bruyne] and Phil [Foden] – I can handle that.
“I’m a big fan of him and I’m pretty sure if they trust him they are going to do a good job in their season.”
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta: “I am (angry) because of the consequences that it (Xhaka’s red card) had to the team.
“I must say that the line we are being judged with is really, really thin because we have seen actions like that in the first two Premier League games and nothing happened and I am disappointed.
“I am very disappointed with the second goal because of the way that they allowed that goal.
“I think we started the game really well and in the first situation they had the ball in our box and we defend the cross, we
defend the run into the box, and then we are 1-0 down, so we tried to go again.
“I think we tried to create some situations, and then the second one, there was a hit and the referee allows it to go and then we are 2-0 down and after the red card (there was) obviously a mountain to climb.”
“When you lose games it’s impossible (to sell the idea of a project), but you saw we had 3,000 fans today and the way they reacted to the team and to the club and the support they were giving it was unconditional, that was why everyone
went over to say ‘thank you’ and that was why I am really proud of that.
“I am sorry we cannot give them the result right now and we will have to fix it.”
Man of the Match – Ferran Torres
Torres enjoyed a promising debut campaign at Man City last time out after his £20.8m move from Valencia, helping his new side win back the Premier League title.
But more will be expected of the exciting Spain international in this his second campaign at the Etihad, although if his eye-catching display against Arsenal is anything to go by, then the 21-year-old seems ready to step up another level.
The forward was a constant thorn in the visitors’ side, both scoring and assisting – two goals and one assist – in a top-flight league game for only the second time, and the first since scoring one and assisting one for Valencia against Levante in December 2019 in La Liga.
City take on Leicester City at the King Power, while Arsenal face newly promoted Norwich City at the Emirates, with both Premier League games kicking off at 3pm next Saturday.