James Baylis ̵
Manchester City's Premier League title defense made a good start on Sunday when the Sky Blues defeated Arsenal 2-0 Excursion of the season. Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva scored at Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners lost in their first official game under new coach Unai Emery, which was a setback, as all the other top-6 teams last season had won Openers.
City controlled the action and had better chances, scoring on both sides of the half.
Here are the main discussion topics from Sunday's game.
Emery's Decisions Backfire
Emery made two important decisions with his first Premier League start-up: Petr Cech chose Bernd Leno and Matteo Guendouzi kept Lucas Torreira on the bench. 19659004] Both decisions were understandable – Cech is a veteran of many Premier League matches, and Guendouzi is one of Gunners top players in the preseason. Unfortunately, both were responsible for Sterling's opening.
The latter could not catch up with the England international after Hector Bellerin pushed him inside, and Cech did not make a big play for the ball as it flew past him, by Miguel Delaney of The Independent :
Miguel Delaney @ MiguelDelaney
Great run and goal, but he passed so easily by Bellerin and Guendouzi and should not Cech … let his stuck arms out?
Both got better as the half continued, but the damage was done. With the lead, City managed to sit a little further down the field and play the counter, eventually allowing Silva to double the cushion after the break.
Emery will not get fierce criticism because he takes a risk against a dominant city in his first game, but it should serve as a lesson for the tactician. He could afford to take such chances in Paris Saint-Germain, but the level of competition in England is much higher.
Mahrez proves to be perfect for the city
The absence of Kevin De Bruyne from the starting eleven has not hindered the Sky Blues a bit, and that's partly because of that Riyad Mahrez seems to have a seamless transition. Starting from the right, he immediately proved perfect for Pep Guardiola's intricate style, drifted in and found Kyle Walker at the overlap again and again.
He also spoke well to Sterling and changed flanks at the right moment. Game of the day he thought impressed:
Game of the day @ BBCMOTD
The arsenal defense, as Mahrez runs on them 🏃
It's remarkable how quickly the former Leicester City man got used to his new environment, but he fits perfectly with City's style. His transfer seemed to be the ideal move for all parties involved before it even went through, and Sunday supported that.
Ozil must be dragged out of isolation in the Arsenal setup
Arsenal made a decent fight in the first half and put them in midfield next to City's foot, but could not do much of the third attack, and that allowed the Sky Blues to take more risks.
The Gunners' creative struggles were at least partially due to Mesut Ozil's role as a pure broad man. He was forced to track down and keep up with Benjamin Mendy – who was moving inward ever further – and this task kept him from getting the ball in dangerous positions at his feet.
The result was an anonymous performance with many wasteful passports. Coral could not help:
Coral @ Coral
Full recognition for Mesut Ozil, who has so far also transferred his international resignation to club football.
For Ozil to have success, he must get the ball early and away from the full-backs, who cut in to defend him. This means pushing Aaron Ramsey and Bellerin into higher positions on the field to keep the defenders occupied and make room – something that did not go against City either.
Instead, Özil was isolated, with devastating consequences. He does not have his legs to balance with so little space, and it will be the key to getting him out of this isolation.