Arsenal stank out the Etihad… Mikel Arteta’s gutless team lacked any fight as City showed they don’t need Cristiano Ronaldo
- Arsenal lost 5-0 to Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday
- The Gunners conceded two early goals before Granit Xhakka was sent off
- City then cruised to victory and could have won the game by even more
Cedric Soares was the only Arsenal player to approach the section of 3,000 travelling fans who’d stayed to the bitter end.
The rest of Mikel Arteta’s beleaguered side applauded solemnly from a safe distance. Martin Odegaard stood and stared. The midfielder could be forgiven for wondering what he has signed up for after this month’s £30million move from Real Madrid.
Cedric, as poor as any of them, removed his shirt as he went closer to the away section, chucking it towards a specific fan in the very end at which Arsenal had thrown in the towel two hours earlier.
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal were thrashed by Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday
The game was over before it had begun, and certainly before Granit Xhaka took leave of his senses yet again before half-time.
Lots of teams lose at Manchester City, many of them by scorelines not dissimilar to this.
But Arsenal needed a performance, something to cling to and — even if not offering hope for a brighter future — proof that their predicament is not quite as dreadful as we all thought.
But it appears to be worse. Arsenal completed 120 passes; City’s Rodri completed 102. The nine goals conceded in the opening three Premier League defeats — their worst start since 1954 — is three more than their own shots registered on target.
It was zero here on Saturday. The closest they came was when Emile Smith Rowe could not sort out his feet after Ederson got so bored that he gifted him possession inside the City six-yard box.
The gutless gunners have now lost all three of their league games so far this season
Bizarrely, Arsenal had no shape from City goal kicks, players seemingly confused by which positions to occupy. Nobody took defensive responsibility in their own third.
Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang played up to the old Arsenal cliche by admitting they lacked fight and courage, suggesting dressing-room inquests were required. Tricky when the dressing room is not united.
On a wretched return to his old home, Arteta was offered a sympathetic pat by City’s facilities director Clive Wilton as he trudged towards the tunnel. The manner of this thrashing left some speculating about the Spaniard’s future as manager, but not Pep Guardiola.
‘When you don’t win there are always rumours,’ the City boss said. ‘I’m not talking about him as a friend, I’m talking about him as a professional. When I was working alongside him, I learned. He helped me a lot to achieve what we achieved together. I feel that he taught me many things.
‘We cannot forget what he’s playing with, five or six players out injured. I don’t have any doubts, he can have a good result or bad results but my opinion of Mikel is beyond what people can imagine. He is so strong, he will recover, I’m sure he will be back on track.’
Manchester City showed that they should be just fine without Cristiano Ronaldo
City are certainly right on track. Ten goals by eight different players in the space of a week have quietened the clamour for attacking reinforcements.
Harry Kane came and went. So too Cristiano Ronaldo, whose agent Jorge Mendes is understood to have offered up the Portuguese a week last Friday during an eight-hour visit to the training ground. Mendes is thought to have discussed new contracts for keeper Ederson, Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo — before presenting the option of Ronaldo.
City weighed up the possibility — Ronaldo was not everybody’s idea of the right signing to make — and did not want to part with a fee. Manchester United came in and sorted everything out by last Friday morning and will pay just shy of £20million with add-ons.
‘We don’t need a striker because we scored five goals,’ Guardiola said flippantly. ‘You will see during the season, when we don’t score, how many people say we need to sign a striker. We didn’t buy one. We tried but it’s sometimes not possible. Ferran Torres makes movements like the best strikers in behind, like Jamie Vardy.’
Pressed on whether City would have pushed ahead with the Ronaldo deal had United not swooped, Guardiola deliberated for a second. ‘I don’t think so.’