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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.