Manchester City made a winning return to Premier League action with a comfortable 3-0 victory over 10-man Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium. Raheem Sterling capitalised on a David Luiz error to give us the lead on the stroke of half-time with his first goal of 2020 and when Luiz was dismissed for hauling down Riyad Mahrez early in the second half, Kevin De Bruyne converted the resulting penalty. Phil Foden came off the bench to seal wrap up the points during 11 minutes of added time, after Eric Garcia was stretchered off following a collision with Ederson. On a landmark day for English football, the game began with a powerful message, as players and staff from both teams took a knee immediately before kick-off to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
WHAT HAPPENED There was a slow start to proceedings at a rain-soaked Etihad, where, after more than 100 days without a competitive game, both sides were content to feel their way into the contest. A De Bruyne free-kick – comfortably tipped over by Bernd Leno – was the only chance of note in the opening exchanges, before City clicked into gear and took control of the game on the half hour mark. Inspired by the Belgian’s artistry, the hosts forced Leno into three smart saves in as many minutes, with Sterling’s angled drive pushed away before the German ‘keeper reacted well to deny David Silva and Mahrez. Sterling sent a glorious chance over the bar, but made no mistake minutes later, when he fired past Leno after Luiz turned De Bruyne’s cross invitingly into the winger’s path. Three minutes into the second half and the game was well and truly City’s. With Mahrez chasing a loose ball, Luiz pulled him back with no attempt to play the ball and received his marching orders from Anthony Taylor. De Bruyne made no mistake from 12-yards, sending Leno the wrong way as he picked out the bottom right corner. From there it almost looked like a training exercise for City, who dominated possession and played the game in the Arsenal half. Leno turned a De Bruyne effort round the post following good link up with Sterling and as the game reached its finale, Guardiola rang the changes to make use of the additional two substitutes. It was a composed and professional display from Guardiola’s men, the only negative on a good night’s work coming 10 minutes from time Ederson raced out of his goal to clear a ball and collided with Garcia, who was stretchered off following a lengthy stoppage. There was no let up from City in added time, however, and a flowing move that saw defence turned into attack finished with Foden crashing into an empty net after Aguero saw an effort crack the post.
STATZONE No player in the 2019/20 Premier League season has been directly involved in more goals than Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian has 16 assists and eight goals.
WHAT IT MEANS We have strengthened our grip on second place with this victory, which puts us seven points clear of third placed Leicester City after 29 games.
NEXT UP As will be the case for the remainder of the season, it is a quick turn around for City, who are back in action against Burnley in five days’ time. We host the Clarets in what is their first game back after the restart on Monday 22 June, with kick-off at 20:00 (UK).
Manchester City (3): Ederson; Walker, Eric Garcia, Laporte (Fernandinho, 69’), Mendy; Gündogan, David Silva (Bernardo Silva, 64’), De Bruyne (Rodri, 69’); Sterling, Mahrez (Foden, 64’), Gabriel Jesus (Agüero, 79’)