kevin de bruyne

EPL 2017/18: Manchester City 3-1 Arsenal: 4 Talking Points

On a day billed as Super Sunday, the two most offensively minded teams in the league did battle at the Etihad. Before this game, the league leaders had won 9 out of their 10 league games, setting records at other team’s expense. For Arsenal, they came into this game having already lost 3 games this season, a total they used to sneer at a decade ago.

The game started, and Arsène Wenger & Pep Guardiola’s free-flowing teams didn’t disappoint as the two teams went toe to toe to see who could play the best football. In the end, Manchester City ran riot in Arsenal’s final third, running out comfortable 3-1 winners. Goals from Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus were enough to give Manchester City all 3 points, extending their lead at the top to 8 points.

For the Gunners, they drop down into 6th place below Liverpool. Arsène Wenger’s men are now a worrying 12 points off the pace.

Here are the main talking points of Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester City.

#4 Francis Coquelin deployed at CB


An injury to Per Mertesacker forced Arsène Wenger to deploy another makeshift defence. In the Carabao Cup and Europa League we’ve seen Wenger play midfielder Mohammed Elneny in a back three, this time it was Francis Coquelin’s turn to be experimented with. On paper, it looked as if Arsenal would be playing a 4-3-3 with Francis Coquelin in the middle with Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey. Instead, the 26-year-old lined up as the organising CB of a compact back five.

This may have been a tactical surprise from Arsène Wenger but in the end, it didn’t have a positive effect. The switch to a back five left Arsenal depleted in midfield, meaning Kevin De Bruyne & David Silva simply had acres of space to control the match.

Francis Coquelin was only on the pitch for 55 minutes, in that time he made 3 tackles, intercepted 1 pass, made 1 clearance and was dribbled past once. It’s fair to say we won’t be seeing the Frenchman in a back five anytime soon.

#3 Alexis Sánchez & Mesut Özil go missing


Apparently, the big games are made for the big players, but I guess that rule doesn’t apply to Arsenal’s world-class players. The two wantaway players were nowhere to be seen at the Etihad, while Manchester City’s star players men were running riot. As the lone man up front, Alexis Sánchez was dispossessed 7 times, misplaced 9 passes and attempted only 1 shot on goal. The Chilean was a noticeable hindrance in attack as he kept losing the ball every time the Gunners tried to counter-attack.

As for Mesut Özil, he’s meant to be the man that quickens Arsenal’s transition play but instead, he looked laboured and out of ideas. The German only completed 38 passes all game, created 0 chances and was dispossessed once. These two supposed world class players didn’t affect the game in the slightest, while it was the below-par Ramsey that took the game by the scruff of the neck for the Gunners. He assisted Lacazette for their only goal of the game, while Alexis & Özil stood by as passengers.

#2 Kevin De Bruyne excels

kevin de bruyne

In contrast to Mesut Özil and Alexis Sánchez, Kevin De Bruyne ran the game from start to finish for the Sky Blues. He dictated things in the final third as well as conducting all their counter-attacks. The Belgian successfully completed 5 take-ons, created 2 chances, made 41 accurate passes and scored the first goal of the game. The 26-year-old has now directly contributed to 8 goals in 11 league games, equating to a goal every 116.5 minutes.

Kevin De Bruyne is undoubtedly now the best player in the Premier League and he’s set to only improve under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola.

#1 Alexandre Lacazette dropped


What’s the point in signing a £50million striker just to bench him in the biggest game of the season thus far? Alexandre Lacazette was also left out of the team that started at Anfield. The star striker has only finished 90 minutes once this season, so Arsène Wenger clearly doesn’t have as much as faith in him as the price tag suggests. Every time he starts a game, he’s taken off in the 70th minute for Oliver Giroud. This time he started on the bench, came on and scored Arsenal’s only goal of the game.

His performance in his cameo showed the world why Arsène Wenger was wrong to leave him out of the starting XI. In 35 minutes, Lacazette maintained an 88% passing accuracy, made several attacking runs in behind and scored 1 goal. That’s more than Alexis Sánchez did in the 90 minutes. The Frenchman has now scored 6 league goals this season, double the total of anyone else in the Arsenal side.

About the Author Mathaeus Abuwa

Arsenal fan with a soft spot for Pascal Cygan.

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