Three talking points as leaders Manchester City outgunned Arsenal at the Etihad
Manchester City recorded their ninth successive Premier League victory as they disposed of Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium.
Pep Guardiola’s men have been in sensational form this season and have now opened up an eight-point advantage at the top of the table, following Manchester United’s defeat to Chelsea.
Kevin de Bruyne opened the scoring before Sergio Aguero – City’s record goalscorer – doubled their lead shortly after half-time.
Alexandre Lacazette halved the arrears to give Arsenal hope, but it was the hosts who finished stronger and made the game safe thanks to Gabriel Jesus.
Here are three talking points as City marched on…
Unstoppable Citizens are in a league of their own
The old adage is that the table begins to take shape after 10 games. Well, this Premier League season in now 11 matches old and it is abundantly clear that Manchester City are the team to beat. Now eight points clear, the bookies’ pre-season favourites are justifying the hype. They are not grinding out results as much as destroying their opponents with free-flowing football that is a joy to behold.
Arsenal caused them a few problems, but City never looked in serious danger and always seemed to have another gear in them when it was required. City’s new-found defensive stability has given them the perfect foundation on which their phalanx of attacking stars can shine. The clocks may have only recently gone back, but it is hard to envisage any team other than City lifting the Premier League trophy next May.
Alexandre Lacazette’s omission raises eyebrows
There was much consternation when the Arsenal team-sheet revealed striker Lacazette, the club’s record signing, had been named on the bench against the Premier League’s pacesetters. It was a dubious decision that was scrutinised further when the Frenchman came off the bench to claw his team back in contention with a well-taken goal. Manager Arsene Wenger had left Lacazette out of the Gunners line-up for the 4-0 hammering by Liverpool back in August, which was also greeted with surprise.
By selecting Alexis Sanchez in the number nine role against City, Wenger wanted a frontman who would work tirelessly and try to pull defenders out of position. Lacazette may be less mobile than the Chilean, but surely there was room for both in the side? Arsenal were always going to need a goal threat and omitting their best striker looked a strange call.
Kevin De Bruyne oozes class on the big stage
Superlatives are never in short supply when describing de Bruyne, who was once again firing on all cylinders against Arsenal. The Belgian opened the scoring with a fizzing low strike that Petr Cech was unable to prevent from nestling in the bottom corner and was always at the heart of City’s attacking endeavours. Not only does he see passes others can only dream about, but he has the skill and technical ability to execute them.
Guardiola has such strength in depth that he could easily field two teams capable of competing at a high level in the Premier League. If there is one player whose absence he would love to avoid though, it’s de Bruyne. The imperious 26-year-old is at the peak of his powers and has found the perfect playground to showcase his talent.