Man City 1-0 Arsenal: Sterling scores the only goal to secure victory

Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal: Payback for Pep Guardiola as Raheem Sterling’s first-half strike sinks Mikel Arteta’s side as Gunners’ wait goes on for an away win at a Big Six rival

  • Manchester City edged past Arsenal with Raheem Sterling scoring the only goal of the game in the first half
  • Sterling calmly stroked into the corner after Phil Foden had an effort saved by Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno 
  • City’s Kyle Walker escaped conceding a penalty when he challenged Gabriel with a high foot before the break

The return of Sergio Aguero outweighed the loss of Kevin De Bruyne as Manchester City edged a tough encounter with their first clean sheet of the season.

This was determined rather than dazzling City with Raheem Sterling showing the benefit of resting during the international break by scoring the only goal after 23 minutes.

Aguero, who looked relatively sharp given he’d missed the last 17 matches since undergoing knee surgery in June, had a part to play in the winner, feeding Phil Foden’s whose shot was parried by Bernd Leno into the path of Sterling to slot in his fourth goal in three games.

Raheem Sterling’s composed left-footed finish early in the first half at the Etihad proved the difference against Arsenal

Sterling was City’s main threat all evening and celebrated after finishing a rebound from a saved Phil Foden effort

Arsenal had a penalty shout waved away just moments before half-time when Kyle Walker challenged Gabriel with a high foot

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Ake, Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva, Rodri, Foden (Fernandinho 89), Mahrez, Aguero (Gundogan 65), Sterling

Subs not used: Stones, Steffen, Torres, Delap, Garcia

Scorers: Sterling (23)

Booked: Rodri, Cancelo, Dias, Ake

Arsenal: Leno, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney, Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka (Thomas 83), Saka, Pepe (Nketiah 83), Aubameyang, Willian (Lacazette 69)

Subs not used: Runarsson, Maitland-Niles, Elneny

Scores: NONE

Booked: Thomas

Referee: Chris Kavanagh 

The hamstring problem that caused him to miss England’s triple-header against Wales, Belgium and Denmark had clearly passed and Pep Guardiola had good reason to be relieved with that.

In De Bruyne’s absence due to a muscular issue, Sterling took on some of the responsibility for midfield creativity as well as getting forward to help Aguero. Just as important, City looked more solid at the back after shipping five goals to Leicester in their last outing at The Etihad.

With Aymeric Laporte missing, regular right-back Kyle Walker slotted in the middle of defence where he also played for England and helped lock the door on Arsenal danger man Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, who still hasn’t scored since signing a bumper new contract a month ago.

City-Arsenal fixtures take on a special meaning these days because of the relationship between Guardiola and Gunners boss Mikel Arteta, once master and apprentice at The Etihad.

They are already developing an interesting history as rivals. City beat The Gunners convincingly in the first game after lockdown when TV pundit Jamie Carragher predicted David Luiz would never play for Arsenal again.

Yet Arteta gained revenge by winning their FA Cup semi-final at Wembley and Luiz was in the starting line-up last night, stepping up from substitute when Rob Holding was injured in the warm-up.

City’s big news was welcoming back Aguero, the record goalscorer who hadn’t played since hurting himself against Burnley in June.

With Gabriel Jesus, Laporte and De Bruyne out, the Argentine’s return was welcome, and he looked ready from the opening minutes when he found space in the penalty area and twisted a header from Riyad Mahrez narrowly wide.

Arsenal have started the season in steadier form than City but it was the home side who took control with a fluid system that saw Rodri occasionally drop back to become a third central defender and allow Joao Cancelo and Nathan Ake to roam as wing-backs.

Sergio Aguero returned for City but was evidently not quite up to working standard yet and was subbed in the second half

Arsenal’s new £45million signing Thomas Partey came on for his debut late in the second half but couldn’t inspire a comeback

Foden had a golden opportunity to make it 2-0 to City before the interval but was denied by a good save from Bernd Leno

At the other end Ederson was on guard to stop Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from scoring an equaliser in the first half

Arteta’s men were happy to sit deep, as they had done at Wembley when they won with two breakaway goals from Aubameyang, but this time they struggled to hurt City until the second half.

There was no denying City deserved the lead given to them by Sterling following a fine move which involved Aguero.

The striker, his hair heavily bleached, carried the ball from Mahrez’s pass deep into the Arsenal half and released Foden down the left.

The City youngster cut inside and fired in at Bernd Leno whose block fell kindly to Sterling who slotted in left-footed.

It was Sterling’s sixth goal in five Premier League games against Arsenal in the league and justified his withdrawal from international duty as a precaution over a tight hamstring.

Sterling and Bernardo Silva also stepped up to the plate to cover any lack of midfield creativity that might have occurred with De Bruyne’s absence.

Bukayo Saka shows his frustration after having his curled effort tipped over the bar by the City goalkeeper

Nicolas Pepe went close straight after the break but couldn’t pick a corner, putting his header straight at Ederson

Watching Mikel Arteta and Pep Guardiola go up against each other on the touchline was an interesting sub-plot in the game

Mahrez tested Leno with a shot and then saw Gabriel get in an excellent block as he attempted to snaffle the rebound. Foden found space in the penalty area but decided to try and slip a low finish rather than attempt the dink and Leno spread himself to save.

Arsenal’s best outlet was youngster Bukayo Saka who has just been given his England debut by Gareth Southgate.

Some brilliant Arsenal football approaching half-time saw Saka and Aubameyang combine on the edge of the City box. The young winger burst into the area and his shot towards the top corner deflected off Ederson’s chest and flew wide.

There was more urgency from the visitors after half-time. Aubameyang, playing centrally, closed down Ederson so quickly the goalkeeper’s clearance cannoned off the Arsenal captain for a City throw near the byline.

The cries of encouragement from Arsenal’s assorted coaches and analysts dotted around the stadium grew louder in a mixture of English and Spanish.

Aguero was withdrawn midway through the second half having put in a good shift, with Ilkay Gundogan the replacement. 

Bernardo Silva pulled the strings in the midfield on Saturday evening in the absence of key man Kevin De Bruyne

Riyad Mahrez threatened for City throughout the match and went close to scoring on a number of occasions

Arteta’s men played well but never caused City too many worries and will be slightly disappointed to walk away empty handed

Out of habit, Aguero went to raise his hands to applaud the fans when his number came up – before realising the stadium was empty.

Grinning, he still applauded the handful of staff dotted about the stadium who were showing their appreciation.

Cancelo got a caution for scraping his studs down the back of Kieran Tierney’s achilles and Ruben Dias also saw yellow for stopping Saka in full flight.

Arteta threw on strikers Alexander Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah to try and take advantage any jitters City had. Jitters that were nearly soothed when Luiz almost put behind his own goal.

But it was The Gunners pressing for an equaliser in injury-time. The fact that City withstood the pressure and came away with a clean sheet and three points will delight Guardiola as much as some of the great tiki-taka stuff they are more used to.


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Be sure to follow Newcastle vs Manchester United with us which gets underway shortly. The blog is in the below link.

But until next time, it’s bye from me.

That’s it, City win. Sterling’s strike the difference here. Arsenal played well but never really troubled City, who will see the victory as a little bit of payback for that FA Cup semi-final defeat back in the summer.

93′ That didn’t take long. Partey picks up his first Premier League yellow card for a pull of Mahrez’s shirt.

Is there any drama left in this game? 

88′ Fernandinho replaces Phil Foden. Guardiola just looking for his side to hang on now.

86′ Sterling latches on to a big punt up the pitch from Ederson. He fakes to shoot and sits down Bellerin but takes the wrong option as he tries to pick out Foden in the box instead of pulling the trigger. The attack eventually breaks down as Arsenal clear. Opportunity wasted.

84′ Ake goes into the book for time wasting. That’s four City players on thin ice now.

And that will be his last contribution with Nketiah coming on to replace Pepe. Thomas Partey comes on for his debut, replacing Xhaka. Last roll of the dice from Arteta.

… No they can’t. Pepe whips one round the wall but it’s not troubling Ederson’s goal.

80′ Saka steals the ball high up the pitch and it falls to Aubameyang. Arsenal have a man over but Walker senses the danger and bundles Aubameyang over. Free-kick is central and around 30 yards out. Real opportunity this but can they make the most of it? 

77′ Cancelo bamboozles Tierney as he cuts inside and out before pulling the ball back into a dangerous area. David Luiz sticks a leg out and it just rolls wide of the Arsenal goal. I’m sure he would have given a big sigh of relief to see that not end up in the back of the net.

74′ Arsenal have definitely been on top in the last 10 minutes but no cracks appearing in City’s defence. The visitors have seen plenty of the ball but haven’t been able to work it into anything meaningful. They’ve got just over 15 minutes to try and find a way back into this game.

68′ Willian is heading off the pitch and Lacazette introduced in his place.

67′ Saka takes on two players and draws a foul from Dias, who takes the Arsenal man out around 30 yards from goal and gets his name taken for good measure. Promising shooting position this for Arsenal.

64′ Aguero’s afternoon is over. It was good to see him back but he was a bit off the pace today. He jokingly applauds the empty crowd as he walks off the pitch. Gundogan takes his place.

63′ Cancelo is the second City player to go into the book for raking his studs down the back of Tierney’s leg. It was a nasty one and a bit needless. 

60′ The game has entered a bit of a lull with nothing to report in the past five minutes or so. Arsenal and City still showing plenty of purpose in their play but just cancelling each other out at the moment.

54′ New half, same Mahrez. The winger cuts infield to work an angle for his left foot and tries his luck from outside the box but Leno gets down to make an easy save.

52′ Arsenal have made a bright start to this half, particularly down the left with Tierney and Saka. Still 1-0 City but Guardiola will be sitting uncomfortably at the moment.

45′ Aubameyang cuts in from the left and drifts a decent delivery into the box for Nicolas Pepe but the attacker can only head straight at Ederson. Pepe appears to have landed awkwardly and looks in some pain. The physios are on and Lacazette has been sent out to warm up. Might see a change here. Play resumes while Pepe goes off for some more treatment.

We are back underway here at the Etihad.

Should it have been given? Certainly looks high and dangerous from Kyle Walker.

VAR didn’t even take a look at it though.

That’s it for the first half. City lead and probably just about edged the proceedings on balance though Arsenal did finish the half strong. It’s finely-poised then at the break with Sterling’s goal the difference. A big 45 coming up for both sides. Stay right here, we’ll be right back with the second half.

45′ Saka spins in behind Cancelo and Xhaka plays him in with a superbly-weighted pass. The Arsenal man delivers a teasing cross into the box but Dias is there to clear. City fail to deal with the resulting corner which almost allows Gabriel to have a shot at goal but his effort goes well wide of the post.

40′ Xhaka plays a decent ball into Pepe who knocks it into Aubameyang’s path. The striker only has the keeper to beat but Ederson is off his line quickly to deny the Arsenal man. The offside flag was up but it would have been overruled had it gone in as replays showed he was onside.

39′ Tierney wins the ball high up the pitch and plays it to Saka, who plays a clever one-two with Aubameyang. The England international arcs his body and tries to bend one into the corner but Ederson just does enough to deflect it over. Best chance of the game for the visitors.

34′ Aguero takes up a dangerous position in the box and is picked out. He passes to his left to find Foden who is all on his own. The England star takes a touch and tries to reverse his shot into the corner but Leno is out fast and stretches his legs to deny him from close range. It’s all City at the moment.

33′ City spread the ball wide to Mahrez, who turns Saka inside and out before firing a right-footed effort over. That’s three shots he’s had now, this one wasn’t troubling the Arsenal goal but he seems to be enjoying himself out on that right-hand side.

32′ Arsenal are still very much in this game but have been under a fair amount of pressure in the last couple of minutes. That goal looks to have given City some real confidence.

27′ Sterling does well by going past two players in midfield and passes to Silva. He turns out to find Mahrez in a good position. The winger cuts in on his favoured left foot and shoots but Leno is equal to it. The City winger almost gets to a rebound but the Arsenal defence manage to smother it behind for a corner. This game has come alive in the last seven minutes!

25′ Saka twists in the box to create a shooting opportunity and calls Ederson into action from a tight angle with the City keeper tipping his effort over the bar. Decent riposte from the visitors.

23′ Commentator’s curse strikes again! City play through the Arsenal press with Aguero finding space outside the box. He tees up Phil Foden to his left who jinks inside and gets his shot off. Leno gets down to save but it falls to Sterling, who reliably strokes into the corner.

21′ Through twenty minutes and Arteta will be pretty pleased with how his men have started. They have a real foothold in this game and have looked comfortable on the ball so far. Still no real clear-cut chances created by either side but hopefully that first big chance is coming soon.

18′ Probing stuff from both sides but that final ball just missing at the moment. 

13′ Rodri gets his name taken early for a tug on Saka, who has started brightly down this left-hand side. The City man’s got 77 minutes to negotiate now without picking up another yellow. 

9′ Gary Neville just said he thinks Arsenal will go punch for punch with City today given how they’ve started and pressed the City players high up the pitch. Could mean we’re in for some goals this evening.

6′ Mahrez looks right up for this. He receives the ball out wide and jinks in and out before digging a cross into the box. Aguero creates some space for himself but is off balance and can only head harmfully over the bar.

1′ Almost the perfect start for City. Mahrez drifts infield and plays a quick give and go with Sterling before wrapping his foot around an effort which curls just wide of the post. Early warning sign.

And Arsenal get us underway here. 

Don’t go anywhere, because City vs Arsenal is coming up next… “AND IT’S LIVE” (Martin Tyler voice)

David Luiz will start in his place.

This is both damning and startling… Arsenal have not won a single Premier League away game against the big six sides since beating City 2-0 in January 2015.

But could that all change today? 

Yeah obviously we were tempted to start him but he only had a day and a half training so we know it takes time to understand what we are doing and we need to be a little bit patient with him.

The former City man is expecting a tough game today.

Read his full Sportsmail column below.

It’s good for us that he is back, it has been a long time. It’s been a long time since he’s played so I don’t know how it will go but given our striker situation I thought it would be better for him to start rather than from the bench. It is good for him to play and good for us as well.

Aguero only looks too delighted to be back but will it be all smiles for him and City come the end of today’s match.

In fairness, Luiz has been a reliable figure in that Arsenal defence since his blunders at City.

Here’s a look at how he’s won Arteta’s trust and why he’ll be desperate to right the wrongs from last time.

David Luiz might want to look away. Arsenal fans will be praying that there won’t be a repeat this evening.

Just the three changes from their victory against Sheffield United last time out.

£45m new signing Thomas Partey on the bench, I wonder if we’ll get a glimpse of him today? 

Good news for City… not so much Arsenal. After almost four months on the sidelines, I’m sure he’ll be chomping at the bit to get back to doing what he does best: scoring goals.

… and welcome to today’s live blog of the mammoth Premier League showdown between Manchester City and Arsenal.

I’ll be your host and will take you through all the build-up and action, so stay right where you are.

First up, let’s bring you some team news.

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