Arsenal 0 Manchester City 2: Sterling-Silva show as champion sparkles

Manchester City continued its impressive form from the Community Shield and repeated the scoreline, beating Arsenal 2-0.

Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling   -  Getty Images

Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva got Manchester City's Premier League title defence up and running with a deserved 2-0 win at Arsenal.

Sterling made six starts in England's semifinal run at the 2018 World Cup and only returned to training with City on Monday. He rewarded Pep Guardiola's faith with a lively showing and a clinically dispatched 14th-minute opener.

The first game of Arsenal's new era under Unai Emery often proved a thankless task, but there were moments of encouragement before Silva settled the issue with a brilliantly taken second in the 64th minute.

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Petr Cech – preferred in the Arsenal lineup to new arrival Bernd Leno – saved sharply at his near post in the ninth minute after Sterling twisted past Shkodran Mustafi.

But, the veteran goalkeeper was grasping at fresh air when Sterling sashayed inside to lash home a shot from the edge of the box.

Hector Bellerin gave Ederson his first serious task in the City goal, but that Arsenal foray only led to a swift counter-attack that ended with Sergio Aguero testing the side-netting.

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Cech bailed out his ailing teammates by thwarting Aymeric Laporte at point-blank range having parried Riyad Mahrez's free-kick.

Guardiola responded to Arsenal pressure early in the second half by sending on Kevin De Bruyne with half an hour remaining and the Belgium midfielder was furious to be denied the chance of doubling City's lead.

Matteo Guendouzi's error gave Aguero the freedom of the Arsenal half and the Argentina star shot too close to Cech as De Bruyne screamed for a square pass.

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The anguish did not last long as Benjamin Mendy made his way to the byline and cut the ball back for Silva to emphatically find the top-left corner.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a goal ruled out for offside and blazed over at close quarters as late lethargy brought errors into City's game – something that will not have escaped its perfectionist manager.

 

What it means: City show its class, plenty of work ahead for Emery

After Liverpool's impressive close-season in the transfer market and emphatic 4-0 win over West Ham it was time for the champion to restate its own credentials. The manner in which City beguiled its host during the opening half hour showed that it unquestionably remains the team to beat this term. Emery's men fought gamely and he will get a better read on his team when they face Maurizio Sarri's similarly embryonic project at Chelsea.

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Pat on the back: Sterling back in the groove with landmark goal

Following tireless performances at Russia 2018 let down by errant finishing, Sterling will have taken great satisfaction in launching City's bid for back-to-back titles with his 50th Premier League goal. He was a menace throughout the opening exchanges, leaving Hector Bellerin and Shkodran Mustafi with twisted blood.

 

Boot up the backside: Tough introduction for Guendouzi

To his credit, the 19-year-old Frenchman refused to hide under the relentless midfield examination that comes with tackling a Guardiola side. But, his passing was increasingly wayward and the air-kick that let Aguero through spoke of mental and physical fatigue. More support from the abject Granit Xhaka would not have gone amiss.

 

What's next

The tough assignments keep rolling in for Emery, with a short trip to Stamford Bridge next weekend, while City faces a Huddersfield Town team that has already suffered at the hands of "Sarri-ball".

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