The Premier League's ninety-two remaining games, spread across nine rounds of games are set to play out beginning June 17th 2020, with Project Restart's health and safety conditions meaning the remaining games of the season will be played out behind closed doors. We will be providing match reports from these behind closed doors competitive encounters as the league campaign nears its end-game. All aboard.
Match Report (GW30): Man City 3-0 Arsenal
- Surprised to see Nketiah get a start against Man City, we thought that Lacazette would have gotten the nod, but it is an experimental line-up. The only good thing to see is David Luiz benched after a poor performance in the loss to Brentford in a friendly prior to the restart.
- Mesut Özil didn’t even make the 20-man team.
- The big screens with all the fans are interesting, and we don’t know if it is a good or bad thing. Absolutely don’t know how to feel about it. The funny thing is Man City don’t even have enough fans to fill the fan cam slots with most the bottom row just the Premier League logo. At least it is a somewhat accurate representation of regular matchdays.The aesthetics Man City had around the seats was visually appealing and it didn’t draw attention to the empty seats.
- The game started with a typical Gunners past time. Granit Xhaka in the first few minutes emphasises the risk of players who have only recently came back to full training. Pablo Mari also went down after 20 minutes, with Luiz replacing him.
The real action started with De Bruyne who was lively in the first 10 minutes with a free kick that Leno expertly tipped over, and then he played a dangerous through ball to Raheem Sterling who had his crossed blocked. Man City began setting the tempo of the match with them having the lions share of possession.
The chances started to rain for City. Raheem Sterling had a great cut-in chance in the 34th minute, with Berndt Leno who once again kept the score goalless. Fine interplay from City in the 35th minute saw another save from Leno, this time from David Silva. City were ramping up their intensity as the game was going on, with Arsenal sitting back which isn’t typically one of their strengths. During the 37th minute KDB played in Mahrez with a great low save from Leno to save Arsenal for the fourth time this match. De Bruyne played another superb through ball in the 39th minute, this time to Sterling, who tried to lob the keeper’, but Leno’s quick attempt of smothering forced Sterling to shoot over the bar.
The Belgians perseverance paid off with David Luiz’s poor attempt at intercepting the ball played it in perfectly for a quick reacting Sterling who thumps it past a helpless Leno. De Bruyne may not be credited with the assist due to the deflection. Man City deservedly led before the break.
The first half best performers were Berndt Leno for his save after save, and Kieran Tierney was very quick to react to danger. De Bruyne speaks for himself, as the Belgian hasn’t skipped a beat since the lockdown. The goal ruined all of Leno’s hard work, but the Mari injury had really hurt Arsenal’s defensive shape as David Luiz’s decline in any form hurting the Gunners this season.
The second half started as the first one ended, with David Luiz hacking down Riyad Mahrez, and in doing so gave away a penalty and picked up a red card. The Brazilian’s cameo in this match effectively ended it when De Bruyne hammered in the resulting penalty. Around the 69th minute De Bruyne had another shot saved by Leno as the game became an attack versus defence training drill. Towards the last fifteen minutes there was a nasty collision between Ederson rushing into his own player Garcia, hopefully it isn’t that bad, and he can recover after being stretchered off.
Three points were secured when Aguero was teed up by Sterling, and the Argentine who was subbed on hit the post, and Phil Foden scored the rebound to make it a comfortable 3-0. Even with both teams down to ten men Arsenal looked like they were still outnumbered. The game finished with Arsenal making zero attempts on target, and City notching up twelve on Leno’s goal.
Man of the Match: Kevin De Bruyne (MCI)
The eagle-eyed Belgian looks at his brilliant best, the lockdown has clearly not phased the creative midfielder. Picking up the assist for the first goal, and slotting in the penalty to make it 2-0 gave City the three points. De Bruyne gets a helping hand from David Luiz in this game, but De Bruyne’s performance in this game wasn’t based on just these two moments. De Bruyne was everywhere, the linchpin of this Man City team, and he made football look easy after a hundred-day absence.
MCI 3-0 ARS - Insight and Analysis:
For starts, the funny thing is Man City don’t even have enough fans to fill the fan cam slots with most the bottom row on both sides of the stadium just the Premier League logo. At least it is a somewhat accurate representation of regular matchdays at the Etihad. The game itself was over when David Luiz stepped onto the field. After one hundred days it is the nightmare return for the Brazilian, and just the latest in a long line of defensive mistakes and errors for the Gunners this season. How he started and won a Champions League final with Chelsea against a great Bayern Munich side is now a miracle.
I have a lot of sympathy for Leno who couldn’t have done anything more to keep City quiet, but it turned out to be what every Man City and Arsenal game has been in recent memory…a one-sided exhibition game that always favoured City. Arsenal never looked like scoring, and if that is the calibre of their performance for the rest of the season it could be a deflating end of the campaign for their supporters.
The weight of Mike Arteta’s job at Arsenal must have surely hit after this loss against his mentor, Pep Guardiola.
Ramifications for the Title Race:
Nothing really changes, Liverpool still must win two games to win the Premier League. The only thing that could speed that up is if Liverpool beat Everton in the Merseyside Derby, and Man City somehow lost to Burnley on Monday, which would declare Liverpool champions without kicking a ball. The likelihood is that after this City performance that the Reds will be made to wait until the Crystal Palace game to fulfil their long-awaited destiny.
Venue: Etihad Stadium
Manager: Pep Guardiola
DEF: K. Walker
DEF: E. Garcia (taken off at 89')
DEF: A. Laporte (Fernandinho '70)
DEF: B. Mendy
MID: I. Gundogan
MID: K. De Bruyne (Rodri '70 - Yellow)
MID: D. Silva (B. Silva '65)
FOR: R. Mahrez (Foden '65)
FOR: R. Sterling
FOR: G. Jesus (Aguero '80)
Carson, Aguero, Zinchenko, Rodrigo, Sane, Bernardo, Fernandinho, Otamendi, Foden
Manager: Mikel Arteta
GK: B. Leno
DEF: H. Bellerin
DEF: P. Mari (Luiz '24 - Red Card)
DEF. S. Mustafi
DEF: K. Tierney (Yellow)
MID: G. Xhaka (Caballos '8)
MID: M. Guendouzi (Maitland-Niles '67)
MID: J. Willock (Nelson '67)
FOR: E. Nkethiah (Lacazette '67)
FOR: P. Emerick-Aubameyang
FOR: B. Saka
Martinez, Luiz, Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles, Ceballos, Nelson, Pepe, Martinelli, Lacazette
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