Neil Humphreys: Man Cty in cruise control
Guardiola's men have it easy against poor Arsenal
Manchester City won a game playing at a sedate, relaxed pace usually associated with a tennis crowd at Wimbledon.
Arsenal lost a game playing like Vinnie Jones' Wimbledon.
|(Raheem Sterling 14, Bernardo Silva 64)|
The champions were laidback. The Gunners were long-ball merchants, humping high passes towards a bemused Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as their new coach wondered if swopping Paris for North London was a smart idea.
In some respects, Unai Emery should feel right at home. The former Paris Saint-Germain coach has left behind a one-club league to join another.
The only drawback is he's now among the also-rans. Based on last night's evidence, Arsenal will be lucky to finish in the top four.
City secured a 2-0 victory on autopilot and everyone else with a passing interest in the basic principles of professional sport should adopt Liverpool as their second team.
Pep Guardiola's gallivanting aesthetes continued where they left off last season, in complete control, in cruise control.
It's a long-term worry for the EPL. In the short term, Arsenal's new manager has more pressing concerns; i.e. he picked the wrong players for the wrong approach.
Matteo Guendouzi, the 19-year-old French midfielder from Lorient, was given his EPL debut. Utility man Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 20, slotted in at left-back and new signing Sokratis Papastathopoulos was dropped in at centre-back.
All three started in a cautious 4-2-3-1 against the champions. All three failed to impress.
Considering City were close to full strength, resting Kevin de Bruyne but giving Riyad Mahrez a first start, Emery's choices walked a tightrope between courageous and clumsy.
City needed only 14 minutes to suggest the latter. Raheem Sterling collected the ball, ran across the box and sauntered past Guendouzi before thumping a strike into the far corner.
Guendouzi appeared to get lost in the fog of his own afro. With a fuzzy hairstyle that's a cross between David Luiz and Marouane Fellaini, Guendouzi will always stand out in a crowd, hardly a positive when opponents breeze past him.
City scored without breaking sweat.
Arsenal's other newcomer, Sokratis, almost contributed to a second City goal, when he scythed down Sergio Aguero. Petr Cech's superb double save from the subsequent free-kick spared Sokratis' blushes.
Mahrez took the free-kick and was so industrious along the right flank that Maitland-Niles' early injury felt like a blessing in disguise. He'd looked thoroughly bewildered in their one-sided exchanges, but then most of the Gunners had a wide-eyed confusion about them.
Arsenal's first EPL game without Arsene Wenger since September 1996 was always going to be an disorienting experience, but their style was befuddling.
For all of Emery's talk of expansive football, there was a whiff of long-ball desperation around the Emirates.
Obviously, the coach needs time and talent to establish the clockwork football that typified his previous teams, but there's no guarantee he'll get enough of either in English football.
Just past the hour mark, Luiz-lookalike Guendouzi looked a lot like Luiz when he made a mess of a long ball, leaving Aguero with half the pitch to pick his spot. Instead, the Argentinian found Cech's outstretched palms.
Aguero's miss was forgotten seconds later, when Bernardo Silva killed off the contest in the 64th minute.
Silva collected Benjamin Mendy's cutback and crashed a shot past Cech.
Emery wasn't expected to defeat City, but he was expected to resurrect the flagging careers of the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Oezil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang.
All four were poor last night.
Arsenal's new coach certainly has his work cut out.
Everyone else needs to worry about City winning another tedious title race.
ARSENAL: Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Stephan Lichtsteiner 35), Matteo Guendouzi, Granit Xhaka (Lucas Torreira 70), Aaron Ramsey (Alexandre Lacazette 54), Mesut Oezil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
MAN CITY: Ederson, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Aymeric Laporte, Benjamin Mendy, Fernandinho, IIkay Guendogan, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez (Kevin de Bruyne 60), Raheem Sterling (Leroy Sane 87), Sergio Aguero (Gabriel Jesus 79)
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