The Star Early Edition

Iffy City still can­ter, Blues can hope in de­fence

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LON­DON: They may not have been at their very best but Pre­mier League lead­ers Manchester City still had enough to beat Arsenal 3-1 at the Eti­had Sta­dium yesterday and extend their win streak to 15 games.

Un­beaten City have not dropped points since a draw at home to Ever­ton in their first home game of the sea­son in mid-Au­gust and they have now won nine league games in a row.

Arsenal man­ager Arsene Wenger was an­gered by the award­ing of a penalty against his team in the 50th minute and what he saw, with some jus­ti­fi­ca­tion, as an off-side when David Silva set up Gabriel Je­sus for City’s de­ci­sive third.

“Can any­one stop them? It will be dif­fi­cult this sea­son, the way they have started, the qual­ity they have but you never know. If on top of that they have de­ci­sions at home like that, they will be un­stop­pable,” Wenger said after­wards.

Wenger clearly felt his best hope of halt­ing City’s run of wins in all com­pe­ti­tions was to keep men be­hind the ball and try to elim­i­nate space for City’s pro­lific at­tack.

Field­ing a five-man de­fence, with the full backs stay­ing deep and mid­fielder Fran­cis Co­quelin in the middle of the back-line, Arsenal’s in­ten­tions were clear but frus­trat­ing City at the mo­ment is far eas­ier said than done. City grabbed the lead in the 19th minute through a low drive from Bel­gian mid­fielder Kevin De Bruyne, af­ter his ini­tial shot had been par­ried out by Petr Cech.

The home side’s trade­mark fast counter-at­tack should have brought a sec­ond in the 35th break when De Bruyne fed Ra­heem Ster­ling but the winger over-hit his pass to Leroy Sane with the German in a great po­si­tion.

Arsenal were just about managing to stay in the game and on the stroke of half­time City keeper Eder­son needed to be at his most alert to get down and keep out a well-struck ef­fort from Aaron Ram­sey. City dou­bled their ad­van­tage five min­utes af­ter the in­ter­val when club record scorer Ser­gio Aguero slot­ted home a penalty af­ter Ra­heem Ster­ling was barged over by Na­cho Mon­real.

Guardiola’s side’s nor­mally slick pass­ing a lit­tle off at times and they showed signs of fa­tigue from their mid­week ex­er­tions at Napoli in the Cham­pi­ons League.

Hav­ing not gained much joy from Alexis Sanchez on his own in at­tack with Me­sut Ozil be­hind him, Arsenal threw on 52 mil­lion-pound ($68 mil­lion) striker Alexan­dre La­cazette in the 56th min­utes and the French­man fired them back into the game with a clin­i­cal di­ag­o­nal fin­ish af­ter be­ing set up by Ram­sey. But City re­stored their two-goal lead when David Silva, in what re­plays sug­gested was an off­side po­si­tion, col­lected a pass from Fer­nand­inho and slipped the ball to sub­sti­tute Gabriel Je­sus for a sim­ple tap-in.

Else­where, Al­varo Mo­rata’s sec­ond­half header se­cured Chelsea a 1-0 win over Manchester United in an en­ter­tain­ing Pre­mier League clash as Jose Mour­inho’s re­turn to Stam­ford Bridge ended in de­feat.

Mo­rata’s bril­liantly-taken header in the 55th minute was the dif­fer­ence on an­other frus­trat­ing trip to Lon­don for United, with six of their last seven away de­feats com­ing in the cap­i­tal.

United pressed for an equaliser, with Mour­inho throw­ing all his at­tack­ing op­tions on from the bench, but they did not test Thibaut Cour­tois enough in the Chelsea goal, mus­ter­ing just two shot on tar­get in the whole match. Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur rode their luck be­fore South Korean for­ward Son He­ung-min earned them a 1-0 vic­tory over bot­tom club Crys­tal Palace to con­sol­i­date their place in the Pre­mier League’s top fou.

Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino’s side, fresh from beat­ing Euro­pean cham­pi­ons Real Madrid in mid­week, found Palace a dif­fi­cult nut to crack at Wem­b­ley and could have been be­hind be­fore Son curled in the win­ner mid­way through the sec­ond half.

In the other game played last night ever­ton beat Wat­ford 3-2.

Chelsea stay fourth on 22 points, the win breath­ing life into their hopes of re­tain­ing the ti­tle. An­to­nio Conte’s men are within a point of lo­cal ri­vals Spurs and sec­ond-placed United, who trail Man City by eight points.

 ?? PIC­TURE: REUTERS ?? WAS IT A PENALTY? Man­ches­ter City’s Ra­heem Ster­ling is brought down in the area by Arse­nal’s Na­cho Mon­real, re­sult­ing in a penalty and then the Sky Blues’ sec­ond goal at the Eti­had Sta­dium yes­ter­day. City won the game 3-1.
PIC­TURE: REUTERS WAS IT A PENALTY? Man­ches­ter City’s Ra­heem Ster­ling is brought down in the area by Arse­nal’s Na­cho Mon­real, re­sult­ing in a penalty and then the Sky Blues’ sec­ond goal at the Eti­had Sta­dium yes­ter­day. City won the game 3-1.

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