A first half goal from Raheem Sterling helped Manchester City edge to a 1-0 win over Arsenal as they look to get their season back on track after a slow start to the campaign.
Missing the influential Kevin de Bruyne, Man City, set up in 3-5-2 system, with full-back Joao Cancelo mostly playing in an unorthodox midfield role, while Raheem Sterling seemed to line up centrally alongside the returning Sergio Aguero as Pep Guardiola looked to throw a surprise to his former assistant coach.
After a balanced opening period, Pep Guardiola’s side would take the lead in the 23rd minute. Having received the ball from Aguero, Phil Foden cut inside Hector Bellerin, before seeing his shot saved by Bernd Leno, only for the ball to drop straight to Sterling who tucked it home.
City looked to extend their lead, though were twice denied by Gunners number one Leno, who made vital saves from Foden and Riyad Mahrez to keep his side in touching distance.
Arsenal did pose an attacking threat of their own, particularly down the left, and the Gunners would have been level if it weren’t for a tidy Ederson save from the lively Bukayo Saka, before the Brazilian also kept out an effort from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang five minutes before the interval.
With 13 minutes to play, the Citizens were very close to being gifted a second however, Cancelo putting a low cross into a dangerous area, with David Luiz’s attempt to deal with it seeing the ball trickling narrowly wide.
City controlled the game through to it’s conclusion, and while Arsenal had half-chances, a siege on Ederson’s goal never materialised from the north London side, the 1-0 loss extending their winless record on the road against the ‘big six’ – a run which dates back to 2015.
👏 Incredible record. pic.twitter.com/PyV3j8SDEO
— SPORF (@Sporf) October 17, 2020
Speaking afterwards, Raheem Sterling was pleased to see the club start to show ‘fluency’ in their play following what has been a topsy turvy start to the season.
“They were a difficult team to break down, really well drilled and made it difficult for us,” Sterling told BBC Sport. “In the end we deserved the win. We kept it tight and compact and deserved the win.
“We haven’t been quite as fluent this season but in the last couple of games have shown that fluency is coming back and it’s great to keep the momentum going.
“When Sergio is on the field you know there can be a goal at any moment. He is vital to help us compete on all fronts and great to have him back.
“It’s only October, we have seen plenty of shock results so far, but it’s a long season so we have got to stay focused and build on today’s result.”
City kick off their Champions League campaign with a home game against Porto in midweek before travelling to the capital to take on West Ham next weekend.