A tough start to the season for Emery, as his Arsenal side struggled to keep up with the Champions on many occasions this afternoon and they were lucky to go into the break just one goal behind.
However, they rallied in the second half, but couldn’t create any real goal scoring chances.
The margin of victory was greater in the corresponding game last season, but the sense of ease was no different. Manchester City remain in their comfort zone against Arsenal, no matter the manager. What needs to be done to close the gap between this teams cannot be achieved in a summer.
So Unai Emery watched frustrated as for the 11th time in succession, he failed to get the best of Pep Guardiola. There is no tougher baptism for a Premier League fixture than this fixture – with the possible exception of Manchester City, away – and the scoreline ultimately flattered Arsenal.
Moments before Bernardo Silva scored the second, Sergio Aguero had missed an outstanding chance for Manchester City and it could easily have been more, had Petr Cech not been – mostly – on his game.
As it was, after the excellent Raheem Sterling had given City the first-half lead, Silva ensured they closed the game out with minimal fuss, making it two after 64 minutes. Sterling fed Benjamin Mendy on the overlap and he cut a cross back to Silva, who buried it with power that have Cech no chance.
It compensated for events a minute earlier when Kyle Walker’s clearance produced a quite horrid air shot from teenage midfielder Matteo Guendouzi, leaving Aguero one on one from just inside the halfway line.
To his credit Cech stayed big, and strong, and made the save, but it summed up the gulf between the teams. Arsenal a work in progress, City with talent, and chances, to burn. Their bench on Sunday afternoon included Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus. For now, and the foreseeable future, Emery can only dream.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
ARSENAL (4-3-3): Cech, Bellerin, Sokratis, Mustafi, Maitland-Niles (Lichtsteiner 35), Guendouzi, Xhaka, Mkhitaryan, Ramsey (Lacazette 54), Ozil, Aubameyang
SUBS NOT USED: Elneny, Torreira, Holding, Iwobi, Leno
BOOKED: Sokratis, Xhaka
MANAGER: Unai Emery
MAN CITY (4-1-4-1): Ederson, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Mendy, Fernandinho, Gündogan, Bernardo, Mahrez (De Bruyne 60), Sterling (Sane 86), Agüero
SUBS NOT USED: Bravo, Kompany, Otamendi, Gabriel Jesus, Foden
GOALS: Sterling 14, Bernardo Silva 64
BOOKED: Sterling, De Bruyne
MANAGER: Pep Guardiola
REFEREE: Michael Oliver
MAN OF THE MATCH: Raheem Sterling.
For long periods of the first-half it felt as if we had opened a portal to the past: Manchester City exhilarating, vibrant, ambitious, Arsenal overwhelmed, hesitant, barely in the game.
The idea that Unai Emery can overnight transform a group of players, even one that includes youth and two entirely new players, appeared fanciful. Arsenal are not suddenly going to become a hard-running, hard-working team, capable of smothering the strongest opponents, with a click of the new manager’s fingers.
Matteo Guendouzi did his utmost, but he is 19 and in his first season in English football. It will take time. The likes of Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil are not going to locate a work ethic that was not present before.