Arsenal saw their early-season progress halted in a 1-0 loss to Manchester City at the Etihad, a game which Mikel Arteta felt his side deserved something out of.
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, 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 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.
Raheem Sterling LOVES playing Arsenal 😏 pic.twitter.com/up1FTGmfUp
— Goal (@goal) October 17, 2020
City controlled the game through to its conclusion, and while Arsenal had half-chances, a siege on Ederson’s goal never truly 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.
Speaking afterwards, Arteta felt his side had done enough to get something out of the game, but he couldn’t fault the attitude and application of his players.
“I am upset, because I think we deserved more from the game,” Arteta told Sky Sports. “I am extremely happy about the performance we put in today, against a top, top team. To come here and play with the attitude, and to have the courage to play the way we played today, to make it as difficult as we made it, I have to say I cannot demand much more from the players.
“Apart from to say that when you have three big chances, in this game you have to score.”
“I look in perspective, against the team that we play, against the things they tried to do … how they adapted, how they read the situations and tried to correct them. And the energy that I felt in the game, I felt that we got better and better, and they are extremely disappointed they didn’t get anything from the game.”
Arsenal kick off their Europa League campaign with an away tie against Austrian outfit Rapid Wien on Thursday before hosting Leicester City at the Emirates next weekend in the Premier League.