After the debacle over losing at Newcastle and despite Liverpool dropping points at home to Leicester, it was vital that City hit the winning trail over the weekend, when once again they were to play their fixture ahead of Shamfield’s finest.
In the circumstances and taking into account the way City generally play, Huddersfield might have been the opponent of selection, but failing that the Ashburton Grove Bottling Factory itself, the Grass-Munchers of the Emirates, would have been second.
The Gooners haven’t found the formula for mastering City since 2015 and it wasn’t going to happen today.
Annoyingly, there were a number of similarities to the Newcastle match. Sergigol scored after a few seconds of the start, City had another disallowed, a nailed-on penalty turned down and Arsenal equalised as a result of slack City marking from a corner where Koscielny was the second of the unmarked players to connect and score. But that was the end of the parallels.
As half-time approached, City scythed through the Arsenal defence containing the entire team, using pace and power down the left where finally Raheem Sterling slid a pinpoint low cross into the six-yard box, where Aguero was lurking with intent to make it 2-1. This obviously changed the dynamics of both Managers’ half-time rally calls and the outcomes were equally different.
City settled into the groove and Arsenal did nothing except chase and run, most of the time minus the football. On the hour City put the game and the points to bed as King Kun slid in his third goal of the afternoon after more top team build-ups involving just about everyone.
This goal had an air of fortune about due to it hitting Sergio’s hand before entering the net, but hey, how long have we waited to be redressed for Boly’s hand ball offside goal at the start of the season. At least Kun wasn’t offside.
City then eased through the gears to keep the Gooners at bay and deny them anything that looked like a shot on goal in the second half. That is quite extraordinary when you think that their attack includes Aubameyang and Lacazette, renowned goalscorers and opportunists. In the end it was Guendouzi who was Arsenal’s best player.
City’s best player simply wasn’t in doubt. today was Aguero at his magnificent best. While performances around him, notably De Bruyne and David, who both still seem to be struggling post-injury, Aguero produced a masterclass, scoring three, could have scored another three and played the kind of part one expects to see from Messi, looking for the ball in the deep and appearing deadly in the opposition six-yard box.
Even for a match as important as this Guardiola added a bit of spice and experimentation playing Laporte at left-back and Fernadinho in the centre. It was designed to collapse City to a back two as Ferna brought it out from the back and Walker screamed down the wing. Gundogan got the nod in midfield and the irrepressible Bernardo replaced Sane, which was strange when you think he would have taken Lichtsteiner apart.
With two more key matches this week, Everton away and Chelsea at the Etihad a maximum of nine points on the week could see the Scouse bottoms start to squeak. If our good friends at West Ham can salvage a point of Liverpool tonight, the us beating the Toffees on Wednesday could see City top of the league on goal difference. Liverpool’s “catch-up” match would be on Carabao Cup Final day when they play Stretford’s finest, a team who, we hope, won’t want to let them win.
Awkward times for the Blues, but isn’t it always?