MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Nov 5 – Manchester City’s newly-crowned record goalscorer Sergio Aguero was on the mark again, as his second-half penalty helped the Premier League leaders beat Arsenal 3-1 on Sunday and maintain their unbeaten start to the season.
Aguero scored via the post after Nacho Monreal was judged to have brought down Raheem Sterling with a clumsy challenge in the 49th minute at the Etihad Stadium.
And, after Kevin De Bruyne had given Pep Guardiola’s side a first-half lead, it seemed Aguero’s latest goal would be enough to secure a club record ninth consecutive league victory for City.
Still, the hosts might have faced an anxious conclusion to the game after Arsenal substitute Alexandre Lacazette pulled a goal back in the 65th minute with a ferocious finish following sharp passes from Alex Iwobi and Aaron Ramsey.
Home nerves were finally settled in the 74th minute, however, when David Silva pulled the ball back for substitute Gabriel Jesus to score from six yards, although replays suggested one, or possibly both, players were offside, with the result leaving the Gunners 12 points behind City.
It had taken just 18 minutes of open, attacking play, from both teams, for City to start the scoring through Belgian midfielder De Bruyne who maintained his superb recent form.
Moments after his powerful shot had forced Petr Cech into the first save of the game, parrying the ball away to his right, City followed up with another attack that paved the way for De Bruyne’s opener.
– Guard of honour –
Leroy Sane and Fabian Delph played short, sharp passes to work the ball to the centre for De Bruyne who then played a one-two with Fernandinho before beating Cech with a left-foot shot into the right-hand corner of the Arsenal goal.
Before kick-off, former City strikers formed a guard of honour for Aguero, who this week became the club’s all-time leading goalscorer, and within a minute, the Argentinian might have added another to his 178 City career goals earlier than was eventually the case.
Sterling and De Bruyne led the City charge upfield following an Arsenal corner and Aguero might have expected to do better than shoot wide of the right-hand post.
Arsenal looked threatening in the early exchanges but the Gunners’ defence was beginning to make the occasional error and, when they gifted the ball to City just before the opening goal, Sane’s low cross missed Sterling by inches.
But while Ederson was untroubled in the home goal, City lacked their usual flowing form in attack.
Silva rolled the ball across an open net, with no team-mate on hand, after 33 minutes and then Sterling and Sane somehow wasted the chance to covert a two-against-one counter-attack thanks to the former’s wayward pass.
Laurent Koscielny was also forced into some emergency defending to keep out a Kyle Walker cross as City threatened a second goal but, against the run of play, Guardiola’s team required Ederson to make a fine stop from Aaron Ramsey just before the interval as Arsenal launched a rare response.
The early second-half penalty dented hopes of an Arsenal recovery although it might have been a different story had Ederson not been fortunate when he dropped a long Iwobi shot and hurriedly gathered the loose ball.
And the Lacazette goal only delayed the inevitable as Cech was forced to make a stunning save from substitute Jesus to deny City a third goal.
Veteran manager Arsene Wenger brought off Granit Xhaka four minutes after City scored their third goal and the Arsenal midfielder gestured angrily in the direction of the fourth official as he sat on the bench, complaining about the offside decision that had gone the hosts’ way.