Art must be im­pressed by mas­ter­class

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT -


AS good a po­si­tion as Mikel Arteta is in for the City job when Pep Guardi­ola does leave, you can see why go­ing else­where may be tempt­ing. Fol­low­ing the Cata­lan must be like try­ing to suc­ceed Sir Alex Fer­gu­son, and much of the re­cent con­ver­sa­tion has been about how it is un­cer­tain when Pep will call it a day and how big a re­build will be needed.

So much more work will be needed at Arse­nal, though. There were cheers and claps from the home fans when Ni­co­las Pepe back­heeled his way out of trou­ble on the right touch­line in the first half. Then groans as he tried the same trick un­suc­cess­fully in his own half. Then some un­print­able words as it hap­pened again.

In con­trast there was Phil Fo­den, fooled once by the trick but not a sec­ond time as he showed the in­tel­li­gent think­ing that coursed through the City team as they made it look like men against boys.

There will still be real and po­ten­tial prob­lems for Arteta at City but when you have got Pepe - a club record £72m sign­ing from 2019 - high­light­ing the waste­ful­ness and in­ep­ti­tude at the heart of Arse­nal the dis­par­ity be­tween the two clubs was made starkly ap­par­ent.

Arteta’s op­tions should be clearer.


TWO starts in a row for Ben­jamin Mendy has to be a good thing for a player whose strug­gles have seemed to never end.

Guardi­ola praised the de­fender for his best per­for­mance of the sea­son in mid­week and that was enough for him to re­tain his place against Arse­nal. Mendy was crit­i­cised here a few years ago for aban­don­ing his po­si­tion­ing in or­der to roam for­ward and join at­tacks but he was much more dis­ci­plined here as he worked with Fo­den to keep Ni­co­las Pepe quiet.


ONE minute on the clock and it was only Eder­son’s alert­ness that meant City were not be­hind. A sim­ple ball to­wards his goal was messed up both by Ni­co­las Ota­mendi and Fer­nand­inho, al­low­ing Gabriel Martinelli to steal into the box and get a shot away that the keeper turned round for a cor­ner.

It shouldn’t be this easy for teams to get in be­hind the Blues.


THAT said, City had no clean sheets in 10 games com­ing into this one so it de­serves to be noted that they kept Arse­nal out. The Gun­ners did cause a few prob­lems and cer­tainly saw more of the ball in the first half than most man­age against the cham­pi­ons.

Ro­dri was booked for a tac­ti­cal foul that would have had Fer­nand­inho purring and the team must now start to re­build their rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing miserly.


NOTH­ING new here, but it re­mains one of the great­est joys in football to watch a Kevin de Bruyne mas­ter­class.

Mikel Arteta at the Emi­rates Sta­dium yes­ter­day

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