Manchester City 3 Arsenal 0

Sterling 45, De Bruyne 51 pen, Foden 90

David Luiz was shown a straight red card as ten man Arsenal suffered their first Premier League defeat of 2020 with an all- round drubbing at the Etihad. The Gunners first outing since the coronavirus pandemic forced everything into shutdown mode was very disappointing following the three month absence. Project Restart may be up and running now, however it may be a case of Project Rebuild for Mikael Arteta. On a wet Manchester summer’s evening, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong for Arsenal. Granit Xhaka and Pablo Mari sustained early first half injuries.

On came Dani Ceballos and the soon to be out of contract Luiz. The Brazil defender’s contribution was to unwittingly assist Raheem Sterling for City’s opener three minutes before the break and five minutes after the re-start Luiz gave away a penalty, bringing down Riyad Mahrez as he threatened from the right. Referee Anthony Taylor produced a straight red card, Arsenal were down to ten men and now two goals in arrears after Kevin De Bruyne struck from the penalty spot.

Both sides had taken a knee pre-kick off in support of the global Black Live Matter movement. Firing blanks all game, the Gunners seemed to be on their knees from the moment they went behind.

But for some fine saves from Bernd Leno, from Sterling especially  Arsenal could have been even further behind. His opposite number Ederson couldn’t have wished for a more gentler return than this. His controversial clattering of his defender Eric Garcia as he rushed off his line led to a lengthy stop and an eleven minute time added on period. Arsenal never registered a single shot on Ederson’s goal. City substitute Phil Foden added a third on 90 minutes, following up after fellow substitute Sergio Aguero saw his shot come back off the upright. City’s third completed their win on a night which pointed to not only the huge gulf in class between the two sides, but also a reality check of the type of re-build now required by Arteta.

Having spent three and a half years at City with his friend and mentor Pep Guardiola, Arteta knew what City would be capable of producing, yet despite all the misfortunes, the Gunners seemed incapable of producing any back up plan to thwart or at the very least contain City.

After the final whistle, Luiz fronted up to the media, explaining that with a contract which runs out at the end of the month, combined with a reported unwillingness by the club to offer just a one year deal, he could easily have opted to remain in London. Having witnessed his error prone night’s work, many Arsenal fans will have wished he had done just that. Arteta has expressed a desire to keep him, but the indications from the decision makers indicate they may not want that to happen.

Like many in his side, Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a disappointing night, however the desire to keep hold of their top scorer is greater, as he has just a year left on his current deal. Mesut Ozil wasn’t even in the squad, and Arteta indicated that the decision was “tactical,” as the mercurial German may need a bit of time to regain fitness. On Luiz’s situation, Arteta was more forthcoming.

“I don’t know what will happen with his contract. I know what happened today, I know the way that David reacted. I know him well, not only as a player but as a person as well. He can handle these situations and it was a reason why I didn’t select him from the start and he had to play because Pablo got injured. He is always going to try to give you his best with the condition that he’s at and he’s tried again, but it didn’t work out for him or the team.”

On taking a pre-match knee, Arteta summed up the new mood around football.

All the surroundings are completely different to what we are used to but we have to adapt. We are playing football again which is what we love to do and hopefully helping people with that and today’s game we have a lot of conditions, one of them we did just before the game. I think it is a very strong message. I think it is creating a very unique message around the world, what we are trying to achieve. I think some behaviours are going to change hopefully. We’ve seen the things that are happening and if we can contribute to that a little bit then great.

Arsenal next travel to Brighton who are fighting to avoid the drop. Arteta will be expecting a truer account of his side at the Amex on Saturday