Arsenal 0-3 Manchester City: Arsene Wenger’s sorry Gunners outclassed again by Pep Guardiola’s champions-elect
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Arsenal lost 3-0 to Manchester City for a second time in four days – as Arsene Wenger’s sorry Gunners were outclassed again on a bitterly cold night in North London.
First half goals from Bernado, David Silva and Leroy Sane clinched the match as boos rang out at the final whistle.
The Beast from the East made its presence felt in North London on Thursday evening understandably decimating the numbers in attendance.
There had been serious discussions about whether the game would go ahead.
Criticism had been aimed at the club for taking the decision to play well after the majority of the travelling City fans had set off from Manchester – not to mention the team who took the rare step of letting the train take the strain by heading down to Euston.
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Of course it wasn’t just the club’s decision to make – Islington Council and the police were also stakeholders in the decision – but the fact it was taken so relatively late in the day was indicative of an indecision that strikes at the top of the club.
Another decision the club has singularly failed to take is the future of Wenger who this week shared his indignation about being questioned in his increasingly beleaguered role as manager.
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‘I turned down the world’ he cried King Lear-like in his refusal to see what the vast majority of fans see – not to mention pundits such as former Manchester United foe Gary Neville who relished sticking the knife into the team during the Carabao Cup final.
The fact no-one could actually disagree with Red Nev’s continual – and some would say gleeful – criticism of the abysmal performance in the showpiece Wembley final four days previously was the really sad part.
Yes, players and teams suffer off-days. And yes anyone can lose to Guardiola’s purring – if expensively assembled – City side these days.
But for the team to play as badly as they did – surrender is not a strong enough word as it implies some sort of resistance to begin with – is simply unacceptable.
Certainly on top on dismal defeats on the road at Spurs and Swansea, not to mention an FA Cup humiliation at the City Ground against a Nottingham Forest side who struggled to win a game for a month afterwards.
If you add the fact the club struggled against the Swedes of FK Ostersund – as excellently as Graham Potter’s side played – in the Europa League, as a consequence of failure to finish in the top four last term then it was no wonder there were so many empty seats at the Emirates.
For fans have simply had enough. And the club must realise that and start undertaking a bout of serious succession planning. This simply has to be Wenger’s final season at the club.
On the pitch during a sub-zero, utterly Baltic evening the fayre served up by a disjointed and rudderless home side was the catalyst for further outbreaks of apathy in the crowd punctured by the occasional chant of ‘We want our money back’.
It was understandable to see why.
City went ahead on 15 minutes after Bernardo Silva cut in on his left to fire past Petr Cech after a superb driving run by Leroy Sane.
The score was doubled soon after following more good work by Sane on the left flank before he played the ball into Sergio Aguero who was stationed centrally on the edge of the box.
Aguero, whose opening strike on Sunday set the tone for Guardiola’s first piece of English silverware at the weekend, teed up David Silva to fire an emphatic left-footed strike past Cech at his near post on 28 minutes.
Sane then deserved netted a goal five minutes later as City put three past a sorry Wenger side for the second time in four days.
The home side had their moments, most notably when Aaron Ramsey’s shot was gathered by Ederson after Hector Bellerin set him up but they faded as the half wore on, prompting many frustrated – and freezing - Gunners fans to sing: ‘You’re not fit to wear the shirt’.
With what they had seen over the previous 45 minutes – and on Sunday – who could blame them?
The second half confirmed the club are in a dispiriting period when nothing goes their way.
Nicolas Otamendi clattered into an otherwise anonymous Henrik Mkhitaryan giving referee Andre Marriner no option but to award a penalty.
Up stepped record £56 million signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The former Borussia Dortmund forward fired a low shot to Ederson’s left hand but the keeper was equal to it, keeping the ball out as the score remained 3-0.
Cech saved from Aguero to deny him his 200th goal for the club, but as the game petered out as a contest as the snow came down to lower the temperatures even more, the best that could be said was that Wenger’s sorry team had seen the last of Guardiola’s champions-elect this season.
As the hardy away fans cheekily sang ‘There’s only one Arsene Wenger’ at the final whistle – along with that old staple: ‘Arsene Wenger/We Want You To Stay’ it was clear they were the only ones who do these days.