Arsenal’s saviour beckons

Former Gunner in line for Emirates return after another horror show by hosts

LINK: Mikel Arteta

PEP GUARDIOLA and Manchester City again found the Emirates Stadium to be a happy hunting ground.

What did City assistant coach Mikel Arteta, a man being heavily linked with the vacant head coach’s role at Arsenal, make of his side’s 3-0 stroll from his perch on the visitors’ bench?

The gap between these sides was as pronounced as it has ever been and there will be no quick fix for whoever eventually takes the reins from interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg.

West Ham can be dispatched, as they were on Monday, and Standard Liege pegged back on Thursday, but here Ljungberg faced his first heavyweight opponent and the same old weaknesses were exposed with minimal reprisal.

The visitors scored early through the impressive Kevin De Bruyne, then built their lead on 15 minutes when Raheem Sterling found the net, before the Belgian bagged his second before the break.

There were 40 minutes on the clock and it was job done.

The three points keeps City’s faint title hopes alive. Liverpool may be out of sight, not to discount the fact that it is Leicester who currently sit in second above City, but when their gameplan works there are few sides who can live with them.

Ljungberg’s brittle team might have drawn hope from City’s indifferent run coming into this match but De Bruyne offered them an early reminder that the champions remain a cut above.

First, Fernandinho found Gabriel Jesus, who shook off Calum Chambers to deliver a cut-back that eluded all until De Bruyne swept home a majestic finish. There were 90 seconds on the clock but the outlook for Arsenal was already ominous.

The Gunners offered an occasional threat, perhaps mindful that City’s defence is a weak link at present, but all game long Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira were overwhelmed and outnumbered by their midfield counterparts.

Ljungberg is admirably willing to give youth a chance but on this occasion those starlets were given the runaround just as their senior teammates were also dragged onto the City carousel.

City raised their urgency levels when necessary. Their second came from a counter-attack, with the black-shirted visitors passing through the Arsenal team with practised ease until De Bruyne squared for Sterling to deliver the killer touch to another trademark City goal.

Later in the first half De Bruyne, who continually picked up the ball between the Arsenal lines, found a crucial yard to thump a brilliant left-footed shot low beyond Bernd Leno.

A combination of City profligacy in front of goal and some smart stops from Leno limited the damage in an anodyne second half, but nothing could disguise the fact that this iteration of Arsenal are distinctly second-rate in matches against the very best sides.

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