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Manchester City ruined the start of the Unai Emery era at Arsenal as the champions signalled their intent to retain the Premier League title with a stylish 2-0 win on Sunday. Pep Guardiola's side swept to the title last term with a record 100 points and they were quickly back in the groove at the Emirates Stadium.
Raheem Sterling opened the scoring with a clinical finish early in the first half and Bernardo Silva's thunderous strike capped a City success that served as a resounding warning to their title rivals.
No team has successfully defended the English title since Manchester United in 2008-09. But on the evidence of this composed display, City have every chance of emulating their rivals' achievement.
Picking up where they left off last term, City had too much class for Arsenal and easily repelled the hosts' few dangerous moments.City's excellence underlined the size of the task facing new Arsenal boss Emery as the Gunners begin life without Arsene Wenger.
Arsenal were playing a competitive match without Wenger in charge for the first time since September 1996.
Emery was hired to replace Wenger following the Frenchman's exit at the end of a dismal campaign which saw Arsenal labour to a sixth-place finish in the Premier League -- 37 points behind City.
The Spaniard will need time to make his mark on a moribund club and, while Arsenal couldn't be faulted for effort against City, there was precious little quality about their play. Guardiola insists his players are still "starving" for success and there is little doubt City's hunger for silverware remains strong.
The City boss started with Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane on the bench as he recalled Sterling and gave a Premier League debut to Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez, whose move from Leicester was Guardiola's only major close-season signing.
Sterling proved to be City's creative fulcrum, but he was fortunate to escape with a yellow card for a studs-up foul on Arsenal debutant Matteo Guendouzi in the early stages. The England winger showed the more pleasing side of his game with an incisive burst past Shkodran Mustafi that took him into the Arsenal area and ended with Petr Cech saving his rising drive.
Having spent the dying embers of Wenger's reign subjecting the Frenchman to vitriolic abuse, Arsenal's fans were energised by the sight of Emery on the touchline. But that noisy optimism was punctured in ruthless style by Sterling in the 14th minute. Taking possession on the left edge of the Arsenal area, Sterling glided past Hector Bellerin and Guendouzi before drilling a fierce shot that flashed past the unsighted Cech from 18 yards.
Arsenal finally threatened when Bellerin's blast forced City goalkeeper Ederson to make a good stop. Arsenal still looked anxious and Cech almost scored a bizarre own goal when his miscued pass across the penalty area crept wide of his unguarded net.
Making amends for that blunder, Cech kept out a Mahrez free-kick before alertly recovering to block Aymeric Laporte's effort from the rebound. Arsenal was pressing with more urgency than under Wenger, but City looked far more potent and Mahrez went close with a curling effort at the end of a rapid break.
Emery has challenged Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to finish as the Premier League's top scorer after the Gabon forward netted 10 times in 13 games following his January move from Borussia Dortmund. However, Aubameyang will need better service than he received against City to achieve that target.
Emery sent on Alexandre Lacazette soon after the interval and the France forward had an immediate impact, taking Aubameyang's pass and shooting just wide.
City responded in emphatic fashion and Silva wrapped up the points in the 64th minute.
Sterling and Mendy outnumbered Bellerin on the right, with the French defender's cross picking out Silva, who cleverly peeled away from his marker Stephan Lichtsteiner to fire past the exposed Cech.
90+4 Peep! It's all over, Manchester City eases to a 2-0 win. Plenty of work for Unai Emery. Match report to follow.
90+1 Sloppy from City as Ederson passes to Mkhitaryan, who squares the ball to Lacazette. It's well over the bar.
90- Four minutes of extra time. If you are an Arsenal fan, you just want this to be over.
87- Sane cracks a shot, it's just wide. The depth in their squad is terrifying.
86- Leroy Sane is coming on, Raheem Sterling with wandering off the pitch. People are leaving the Emirates in their droves.
85- Arsenal have the ball in the net again, this time with Ozil, but he's MILES offside.
80- Manchester City is just playing down the clock now. It's been a professional display from the champions, who haven't really gone out of second gear, truth be told.
79- Gabriel Jesus comes on for the final ten minutes. Aguero makes way for the Brazilian attacker.
78- Arsenal have the ball in the back of the net, Aubameyang chips Ederson, but he's a yard offside.
75- Aubameyang is stationed on the left wing now, he dinks a ball into the box, and Stones clears away. Arsenal seem to be lacking ideas in attack at the minute.
69- Another debutant on for Arsenal, Lucas Torrera is on replacing Granit Xhaka
68- Arsenal has huffed and puffed this half, without really creating any chances to trouble the Citizens. Aubameyang has been very quiet.
62- It's 2-0 City. It's a screamer for Bernardo Silva, who is perfectly tee'd up by Mendy, it's past Cech in a flash! 2-0 City. Game over, surely.
61- It should be 2-0 City. Mattéo Guendouzi fails to control the ball and Aguero is away. The Argentine striker is denied by Cech with a great save.
60- One hour into the Unai Emery era.
58- Riyad Mahrez is off. Kevin De Byrne is on. Boo's aplenty for the Algerian.
55- Chance for Lacazette, controlled well on the knee and his shot from outside of the boot is wide. The Emirates comes alive!
54- The battle between Raheem Sterling & Mattéo Guendouzi has been entertaining. The French youngster knocks down Sterling.
53- Lacazette is coming on for Arsenal. Hello! This is interesting. Aaron Ramsey makes way. Two strikers on for Arsenal.
51- Oh Ramsey, a pass meant for Ozil rolls out of play. Grumbles can be heard at the Emirates... same old Arsenal...
49- Chance for Manchester City. Mendy shapes to shoot, Mattéo Guendouzi blocks the effort, Aguero is on hand to follow up and his shot nips off the boot of Ramsey, the corner is wasted.
Peep! We are back underway at the Emirates.
Andy Gray has no time for teams playing out the back. That's the big takeaway from half-time at the beIN SPORTS studio.
Peep- Half-time Manchester City are 1-0 up thanks to Raheem Sterling. Arsenal are still in it! Join me in fifteen for more updates!
45+2- Mkhitaryan & Ramsey combine, The Armenian is knocked down by Mendy, but it's a goal kick.
45- Four minutes of extra time.
44- First change for Aubameyang, who is picked out by Mkhitaryan. His shot flies wide. A half-change for the Gunners.
41- Mahrez skims a shot just wide of the post. Loud cheers from the Arsenal fans behind the goal as Cech finally goes along with a goal-kick.
40- Two missed passes in quick succession from Mesut Ozil, groans echo around the Emirates. Sloppy from the playmaker.
36- Kyle Walker dinks in a dangerous cross, it's just too long for Bernardo Silva.
34- It's all over for Maitland-Niles who was playing on one leg for the last few minutes. Stephan Lichtsteiner is on for his Arsenal debut. His experience will be crucial against Mahrez & Kyle Walker on that wing.
32- A half-chance for Arsenal Mkhitaryan is crowded out at the last.
29- Emery strokes his chin, Maitland-Niles seems to be injured. This doesn't look good for Arsenal.
27- Riyad Mahrez steps up, the effort is stopped well by Cech, and then again to deny Laporte from close range. The resulting corner falls to an unmarked Laporte who heads wide. It's a fine double save from Cech.
26- Papastathopoulos slides in Aguero, just outside the box. The Greek defender picks up a yellow for the challenge.
24- Arsenal just needs to keep their composure and ride this pressure out, if they concede again before half-time it's game over.
21- City break and Aguero is set up by Sterling, his shot skims just wide. Arsenal is wobbling here.
20- Chance for Arsenal, Bellerin latches onto a pass from Matland-Niles and his shot is palmed away from Ederson.
14- Goal! City takes the lead. Sterling cuts in from the right wing & evades Bellerin & Mattéo Guendouzi before he drills it past Cech. City has a deserved lead. 1-0
10- City slowing finding their feet now, pressing and pushing when Arsenal have possession. It's been a lively start.
8- Chance! Sterling evades three challenges and cracks a shot towards goal, Cech with a fine reaction save. City should have been 1-0 up by now.
7- Kyle Walker with a fine overlap, Cech plunges to the left and stops the cross, the resulting corner isn't up to much.
6- Granit Xhaka gives away possession, Sterling plays in Aguero. Mustafi tracks back and gets the challenge in.
4- Raheem Sterling hacks into Mattéo Guendouzi, It's a yellow for the England winger, welcome to the Premier League Matteo.
2- First chance of note, Ramsey with a tame shot which is gathered by Ederson, elsewhere Laporte knocks down Aubameyang
1- Arsenal start off well. Keeping the ball well, Mendy knocks the ball out for an early throw. Positive start!
Peep! We are underway!
The teams are out! We are minutes away from the Unai Emery era starting at Arsenal!
Unai Emery speaks! His English has vastly improved since joining at the start of the summer! A nice piece of insight of how he expects his side to play against the Champions.
Peter Reid & Andy Gray have a look at the Arsenal & Man City sides ahead of kick-off. What a day for Mattéo Guendouzi, the teenager starts his first game for the Gunners against the Champions, no pressure then!
Emery arrives at the Emirates, he looks almost shy.
Now for the Champions. Club record signing Riyad Mahrez starts, Raheem Sterling also gets the nod on the wing. Gabriel Jesus, De Bruyne & Sane make up a very scary bench for Man City
Your Champions’ line-up! 🙌— Manchester City (@ManCity) August 12, 2018
City XI | Ederson, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Mendy, Fernandinho (C), Gündogan, Bernardo, Mahrez, Sterling, Agüero
Subs | Bravo, Kompany, De Bruyne, Sané, Otamendi, Jesus, Foden
Presented by @haysworldwide. #afcvcity #mancity pic.twitter.com/tIW9LfRpM8
Team News! First up for Arsenal! 19-year-old summer signing Mattéo Guendouzi starts in midfield, whilst Sokratis Papastathopoulos starts in defence. Lucas Torreria & Bernd Leno are on the bench.
Hello, welcome to the Live Updates of Arsenal Vs Man City. It's the first time in 21 years that Arsene Wenger won't be leading Arsenal out. Now, Unai Emery era begins, but it doesn't get any bigger than the visit of Manchester City, last season's champions. Will Arsenal shock the Citizens? Will Pep Guardiola look effortlessly cool on the sidelines? Or will Arsenal just wilt under the pressure? We will find out this and more in the next few hours!
Arsenal will face last season’s champions Manchester City in the first competitive game for new boss Unai Emery. It promises to be a baptism of fire for the Spanish coach, and an early test of the new system in place at the north London club since the departure of Arsene Wenger. As ever, you can watch all the action Live & Exclusive via beIN SPORTS CONNECT.
It’s all change at the Emirates after Arsene Wenger was relieved of his duties after 21 years with the club, incomes Emery who favours in-depth video analysis and micromanagement. The very opposite to the football of latter-day the Wenger. It will be interesting to see how the squad has taken to the methods from their new head coach.
Emery wasted little time in the summer transfer window, addressing any previous weaknesses which were so glaringly missed during Wenger’s tenure. German international keeper Bernd Leno has been recruited as competition for Peter Cech, whilst defenders Stephan Lichtsteiner & Sokratis Papastathopoulos add some grit and experience to a backline that was guilty of making too many mistakes last season.
Emery went about quickly to address the issue in central midfield, with Uruguayan international Lucas Torreira acquired from Sampdoria. The tenacious 22-year old may lack the stature and power of former Arsenal defensive midfielders ala Patrick Vieira & Gilberto Silva, but if Torreira can adapt quickly to the hurley burley of the Premier League, then Emery may have picked up a useful player to solve Arsenals midfield woes down the years.
Arsenal Predicted Team
Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Xhaka, Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Ozil, Aubameyang
How to watch Online- beIN SPORTS CONNECT
TV Channel- HD 11
Stadium- Emirates, Arsenal
Pep Guardiola’s side defeated all before them last season as they stormed to the Premier League title. Now the emphasis will be on the Citizens to repeat the same feat in both the league & European competition. Despite having several key players going deep into the World Cup, Pep will be relishing the challenge of Arsenal and will be targeting a statement win to send a message to the league that the Citizens will be looking to defend their title.
After extended runs in the World Cup, Kevin De Bruyne & Raheem Sterling have only just returned to training but Guardiola could throw the players in to ensure the best possible side to kick-start their Premier League title defence. Whilst the likes of Gabriel Jesus & David Silva could start on the bench in favour of Sergio Aguero & Bernardo Silva, as Guardiola looks to balance his hugely talented squad.
Manchester City made only one major signing of note ahead of the new Premier League season. Algerian Riyad Mahrez joins for a record fee and could be in line for his competitive debut. Pep Guardiola had been trailing Mahrez for some time, and it will be interesting in the role the tricky winger will play over the course of the season.
Man City Predicted Team
Ederson, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Mendy, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, D. Silva, B. Silva, Aguero, Sterling
It certainly promises to be a fascinating encounter as a new era at Arsenal starts, with the Gunners taking on Manchester City. You can watch all the action live & exclusive via beIN SPORTS CONNECT.