The Star Early Edition
Iffy City still canter, Blues can hope in defence
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.