Arteta laments Arsenal’s slow start as early Sterling header gives Man City 1-0 win

An early Raheem Sterling goal condemned Arsenal to a 1-0 loss to league leaders, Manchester City.

Man City got themselves off to a rapid start, taking the lead through Raheem Sterling inside two minutes. The England international finding space in between the Arsenal centre-backs, rising highest to get onto the end a Riyad Mahrez cross, before steering his header expertly past Bernd Leno.

In honesty, Sterling could arguably have had a hat-trick inside the opening 20 minutes or so, such was City’s domination, Arsenal only starting to get a foothold as the game approached the interval.

City had virtually strolled through much of the first half, though Arsenal came out with much more aggression in their pressing after the break, with neither side creating too much in terms of chances.

The best chance of the second period saw Joao Cancelo driving at the Arsenal defence before exchanging passes with Gabriel Jesus. The Portuguese full-back cut inside his man, before attempting to curl one with the outside of his right boot, only for his effort just to drift wide of Leno’s post.

While Arsenal were improved, you never really got the feeling that a goal was imminent, with City’s defence once again looking imperious as they held on to keep their 15th clean sheet of the campaign and restore their 10 point advantage at the top of the table.

Meanwhile, the result leaves Arsenal 10th in the Premier League, 11 points adrift of the top four places, and speaking afterwards Mikel Arteta was disappointed with the manner of the winning goal, as well his side’s decisiveness in the final third.

“When we conceded the first goal it put us in a difficult situation. It was tough,” he told Sky Sports. “With the formation and the players they use they are really comfortable. After that, the team reacted really well, were on top of the game and created chances but we lacked the quality in those situations to score the goal.”

Asked about his side’s slow start, he replied: “We got something wrong. We didn’t do it in the first 10 minutes. It’s a cross and Raheem Sterling cannot head a ball there. You cannot concede that goal. It was a tactical thing that we were prepared for but we didn’t read it in the game.

“We got momemtum and confidence and were really good on the ball as well. We found good spaces but when we were in the final third we didn’t pick the right pass to score a goal. We tried to use some weaknesses that we thought we could exploit. They don’t have many! How they compete when they have in the last few minutes, they are a top side.

“Today they played a little bit differently but within that organisation they can do lots of really good things. They manage the situation really well.

Arsenal travel to Athens later this week for the second leg of their Europa League last 32 tie against Benfica, the tie poised at 1-1 with the Gunners having gained a potentially vital ‘away’ goal.

“We have a final on Thursday because we want to continue in the competition,” the Spaniard added. “We have to sleep, eat and we won’t have time to train then we fly to Greece.”

Read – Tactical Analysis: How Guardiola has proven Man City’s critics wrong with his tactical overhaul

See also – Tweets of the Week: Evertonian delirium, Mbappé memefying Pique, and the referee who fronts up

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