Manchester City Beat Arsenal in EPL’s 1st Matchday After Restart amid COVID-19

Manchester City's Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (2L) celebrates scoring his team's second goal from the penalty spot with Manchester City's English midfielder Raheem Sterling (2R) and Manchester City's Spanish midfielder David Silva during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on June 17, 2020. - The Premier League makes its eagerly anticipated return today after 100 days in lockdown but behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions. (Photo by LAURENCE GRIFFITHS / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /  (Photo b

LAURENCE GRIFFITHS/Getty Images

With the Premier League back in full swing, Manchester City beat Arsenal 3-0 at Etihad Stadium in Manchester.

David Luiz had a day to forget. The Arsenal center-back entered the match in the 24th minute and was indirectly responsible for City’s first two goals. A red card ended his day in the 49th minute.

OptaJoe @OptaJoe

2015 – David Luiz is the first player to be sent off, concede a penalty and commit an error leading to an opposition goal in a Premier League match since Carl Jenkinson for West Ham vs Bournemouth in August 2015. Hat-Trick. #MCIARS https://t.co/zpLK6yDfxm

Raheem Sterling opened the scoring for the hosts in the second minute of first-half stoppage time, and Kevin De Bruyne doubled Manchester City’s lead from the penalty spot in the 51st minute. Phil Foden scored his first goal of the Premier League season in the first minute of stoppage time before the final whistle.

Some rust was to be expected since both teams last played a competitive fixture in March. Aston Villa and Sheffield United played to a 0-0 draw earlier in the day, though Hawk-Eye Innovations, which is responsible for the league’s goal-line technology, admitted the Blades were mistakenly denied a goal.

There was no such controversy when Sterling put City ahead 1-0. The England attacker fired home a right-footed shot past Bernd Leno at the near post.

A mistake by Luiz helped set up the scoring chance. Luiz failed to properly clear a cross from De Bruyne; the ball instead caromed off his thigh and perfectly into the path of Sterling.

Men in Blazers @MenInBlazers

Missed the David Luiz “Walk of Shame” so very badly https://t.co/Kh8eFjeEAQ

Paddy Power @paddypower

[Ctrl c] [Ctrl v]

The goal came from a mistake from David Luiz.

Perhaps the Brazil defender was merely attempting to bring a sense of normalcy back for fans.

Things didn’t get any better to start the second half as Luiz brought down Riyad Mahrez in the penalty area. There wasn’t much contact between Luiz and Mahrez, but it was enough for the referee to point to the spot and send the Brazilian to the dressing room.

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

David Luiz: Earned a WhoScored rating of 3.84 vs Manchester City; Only Jordan Pickford (3.73 vs Liverpool) has received lower in a Premier League match this season

It’s also the lowest rating for a sub in Europe’s top five leagues this season https://t.co/HgvLjqCnCR

John Bennett @JohnBennettBBC

David Luiz was so bad that this is the first time I’ve seen a team “go up” to 10 men.

Soccer AM @SoccerAM

.@GNev2 has no words on David Luiz’s performance today 🤐

“I’ve said everything that I’ve got to say over the last few years. He never learns.” 😶 https://t.co/pktFfkQtVn

Picking on Luiz will be easy in the aftermath of the match because he played so poorly, but it shouldn’t obscure how dominant City were. They finished with nearly 68 percent of possession and 12 shots on target.

Even before going down to 10 men, Arsenal did little to threaten their opponents in the final third. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was largely anonymous, and Eddie Nketiah, who lined up at the top of the Gunners’ 4-3-2-1 formation, suffered from an absence of support.

Were it not for a few solid saves from Leno, Arsenal could have easily been down a goal or two prior to Sterling breaking the deadlock.

Compounding matters, Granit Xhaka and Pablo Mari exited in the first half because of injuries.

Whatever enthusiasm Arsenal fans had for the Premier League restart likely evaporated as the day unfolded. Even with the understanding that Mikel Arteta couldn’t wave a magic wand and immediately solve the Gunners’ problems, Wednesday’s match had a deflating feel.

For City, it was another example of how good they can be when they’re in control. Of course, the impressive showing comes too late to impact the title race.

While Liverpool haven’t secured the league title just yet, they held a 25-point gap on City when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Premier League to suspend the 2019-20 season. City still have a mathematical chance of chasing down the Reds, but their victory Wednesday probably only delays the inevitable.

Arsenal could have moved ahead of rivals Tottenham Hotspur with a win. The Gunners remain in ninth place, eight points off Chelsea for the final Champions League spot.

What’s Next?

City are back in action Monday, when they welcome Burnley, while Arsenal will head to the Amex Stadium for a match with Brighton Hove & Albion on Saturday.

Read More