City extended the lead at the top of the Premier League to eight points after a hard-fought 3-1 win over Arsenal. The Blues were made to fight hard for the three points, but goals from Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus were enough for a deserved win on a day when yet more Club records were broken by Pep Guardiola's irrepressible side.
What happened? Following a presentation to newly-crowned record goal-scorer Kun Aguero, the game began with Arsenal determined to stop the Blues playing from the back. It was a tactic that worked quite well for the opening few minutes with City facing a high press on the edge of their own box every time Ederson had the ball at his feet. Got an iPhone? Read this on our Apple News channel. Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil had attempts from distance as the visitors followed a tactical plan to try and tame the Premier League leaders, but neither effort found the target. But this City side tend to have a Plan B, C and sometimes D and mixed in longer passing in and steadily took control of proceedings. Leroy Sane’s low cross just inches away from finding Raheem Sterling’s darting run and then De Bruyne saw a lot shot well saved by Petr Cech as the hosts upped the ante and it seemed a breakthrough was coming. It arrived after 19 minutes when Fernandinho returned a one-two with De Bruyne that saw the Belgian fire a precision left-foot shot past Cech to put the Blues a goal to the good. Some of De Bruyne’s passing was simply sublime and the Gunners had cause for concern whenever he was in possession. Sterling was again unlucky on 33 minutes when an incisive passing move saw David Silva get behind the Arsenal defence before sliding a ball across the face of goal -but a couple of feet in front the Blues' top scorer who had checked his run. And as if to underline things weren’t going his way, the England winger then found himself clear on goal, but caught in two minds, his pass to Sane went out for a throw, much to the chagrin of his manager on the touchline! Just one behind, the Gunners gave a timely reminder that they were still very much in the game as a combination of Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey saw the latter fire a low shot through John Stones’ legs to force Ederson into a smart low save. That warning was heeded and acted upon within four minutes of the re-start as Sterling was bundled over in the box by Nacho Monreal and referee Oliver pointed to the spot – man of the moment Aguero made no mistake, sending Cech the wrong way to double City’s lead. The visitors, by now freed of their defensive shackles, began to look menacing . Perhaps sensing the Blues were fatigued from the midweek win in Naples, the Gunners continued to plug away and their persistence finally paid off on 65 minutes when sub Alexandre Lacazette halved the arrears with a low angled shot. City almost hit back immediately as Gabriel Jesus saw his powerful shot from close range brilliantly saved by Cech and then De Bruyne was denied with a cheeky low drive from an acute angle moments later. With the hosts tiring, it might have made for a nervy last 15 minutes or so but as the Blues so effective on the counter-attack, poured forward time after time, and Gunners’ defence waited for an offside flag that was never coming, Silva ran into the box before squaring to Jesus who hammered home a decisive third to wrap up a record 15th consecutive win. A wonderful way to head into the international break from a side who never disappoint and with news United had lost 1-0 to Chelsea a couple of hours later, City increased the gap at the point to eight points.
Key moment? Gabriel Jesus' goal couldn't have been better timed with Arsenal threatening to level as the Blues' tired legs started to look a little battle weary - and no wonder given the exertions of the past month or so!
What it means… City go into the international break eight points clear at the top having scored 52 goals in all competitions.
City Matchday App Star Man: Kevin De Bruyne
What’s next? No games now for City or any top-flight club as the international break kicks in for the next fortnight – then it’s back to Premier League action with a trip to Leicester a week on Saturday.
Stats and milestones City have now won a Club record 15 goals in succession. The Blues have won nine successive league games in a season for the first time since 1947.The Blues are unbeaten in 23 matches in all competitions. Gabriel Jesus is still unbeaten as a City player. Sergio Aguero moves on to 179 goals for City. The Blues' record of 31 points from the opening 11 games is a new Premier League record. City's record of 52 goals from 17 games in all competitions is a Premier League record.
Manchester City (3): Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Stones, Delph; Fernandinho, Silva, De Bruyne; Sané (Bernardo Silva, 86’), Sterling (Gündogan, 77’), Agüero (Gabriel Jesus, 62’)