Fernandinho and John Stones were imperious for Manchester City as they beat Arsenal 1-0 at the Emirates in the Premier League on Sunday evening.
Manchester City were off to a blazing start as Raheem Sterling put the Premier League leaders ahead within two minutes of the kick-off heading home a lovely cross from Riyad Mahrez. It could have been much worse for Arsenal, as Sterling missed a gilt-edged chance soon after.
The Gunners hardly threatened going forward for the rest of the first half. Things improved a tad bit after the break, but it was still Manchester City who looked like the most likely to score. However, some tawdry finishing meant that Pep Guardiola’s men weren’t able to add to their tally on the evening.
Nevertheless, Sterling’s early strike was enough for Manchester City to extend their winning run and further strengthen their hold at the top of the Premier League table. As for Mikel Arteta’s men, they remain tenth in the standings, six points off sixth place.
Here’s how we rated the performances of both sets of players on the evening at the Emirates.
Bernd Leno: 6/10
Not a lot he could have done to stop Sterling’s opening goal. Not tested a great deal for the rest of the game despite Manchester City dominating. Did make one good save from Ilkay Gundogan but needed to be better with his distribution.
Hector Bellerin: 5/10
Caught ball-watching on more than one occasion as Sterling caused him problems with his movement. Got caught out for the goal early in the game. Not involved a great deal going forward either.
Rob Holding: 5/10
Raheem Sterling is seven inches shorter than Rob Holding. 🙃 pic.twitter.com/4iDWsNw5TU
— 90min (@90min_Football) February 21, 2021
Inexplicably beaten for the opening goal and never really recovered from that error. Did not look convincing when he tried to push out to stop the visitors. Taken off late in the game with a possible concussion.
Pablo Mari: 5/10
Preferred over the likes of David Luiz and Gabriel Magalhaes, the Spaniard did not enjoy the best of games against his former club. Wasn’t helped by the fact that the Manchester City attackers constantly kept interchanging positions. Did show composure when on the ball but rusty.
Kieran Tierney: 5.5/10
Starting his first game since returning from injury, the Scotsman had a lot of problems up against Mahrez, who constantly got the better of him. Should have gotten tighter to the Algerian to prevent him from crossing for the goal. Did improve and showed some purpose going forward but delivery was lacking the usual venom.
Mohamed Elneny: 5/10
Preferred ahead of Dani Ceballos, perhaps to provide additional security in midfield, the Egyptian worked hard, but was a tad too safe and conservative when on the ball which affected Arsenal’s ball progression. Lacks the quality to be a regular in the Arsenal side.
Elneny and Xhaka are spectators in that midfield. Atleast Xhaka has a pass in him but if Elneny is not lending defensive cover to the back four, may as well bring the better passing Ceballos on#ARSMCI
— Jay (@Emperor_Jay10) February 21, 2021
Granit Xhaka: 6/10
One of the better players for Arsenal as he tried hard to help his team get a foothold into the game. Assured on the ball, strong off of it. However, he too needed to be a bit more proactive with his passing. Booked.
Nicolas Pepe: 5.5/10
Ran his socks off but wasn’t able to impose himself on the proceedings. Looked to make things happen but things didn’t quite fall in place for him. Tracked back well to cover for Bellerin. Hard-working but ineffective.
Martin Odegaard: 4/10
Anonymous display from the Norwegian playmaker who was completely nullified by the Manchester City holding midfielders. Hardly got a sniff and failed to make the most when he did get on the ball.
Bukayo Saka: 7/10
The brightest of the Arsenal players on the night, with most of their positive moments coming through the teenager. Wasn’t afraid to run at the Manchester City backline when on the ball causing them some problems, but lacked support from his teammates on the night.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 4/10
Another ineffective display from the Arsenal skipper. Hardly got into the game. Failed to hold up the ball, offered very little goal threat. Not a single shot on the evening, no key pass, no dribble. Disappointing.
Jamie Redknapp: “I look at Aubameyang, he is past his best. He’s going to have moments, he’s going to get hat-tricks, when I watch him sometimes it’s like he’s lost his superpower. I’m seeing now a player that is going to get bullied every occasion.” [Sky] pic.twitter.com/kZTleGIHqA
— afcstuff (@afcstuff) February 21, 2021
Alexandre Lacazette: 5/10
Pressed well but hardly made the desired impact after coming on for Pepe in the 73rd minute.
Emile Smith Rowe: 5/10
Replaced Odegaard with less than twenty minutes left. Ran around but couldn’t drag Arsenal back into the game.
David Luiz: N/A
Came on for Holding as a concussion substitute with less than ten minutes left.
Dani Ceballos: N/A
Late substitute for Elneny.
Ederson Moraes: 6/10
Hardly called into action throughout the game with Arsenal barely creating anything meaningful. Launced attacks with some of his long passes. One audacious clearance in the second period caused some nerves in the City camp.
Joao Cancelo: 6.5/10
Not at his usual level as he had some difficulties dealing with Tierney’s forward runs. Booked for a foul on the Scotsman. Drifted in centrally when City were on the ball and kept things in check. Should have scored late on but sent his effort just wide.
John Stones: 8/10
What a turnaround it has been for Stones. Another imperious display from the Englishman. Rock solid at the back as he ensured little got past him, making four clearances and an interception. Distributed well throughout, completing 95 per cent of his passes.
Manchester City with Ederson, Stones and Dias starting:
🏟 13 games.
🧤 12 clean sheets.
🥅 ONE goal conceded.
Absolutely unbelievable partnership they've got at the back.
Magnet and Steel 🤝 pic.twitter.com/ub0B8QHPhM
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) February 21, 2021
Ruben Dias: 8/10
Like his defensive partner, the summer signing allowed little beyond him snuffing out any potential threat before it became a problem. Brilliant cross-field pass to find Mahrez leading to the opening goal. Completed 81 of his 85 passes made an interception and two clearances.
Oleksandr Zinchenko: 7/10
A calm and disciplined showing from the Ukrainian who picked his moments to get forward intelligently while staying responsible and alert at the back. Completed two key passes on the evening.
Bernardo Silva: 6/10
Not as effective as some of his teammates on the night but was clever in his movement and proactive with his passing. Completed one dribble and a couple of key passes.
Fernandinho's game by numbers vs. Arsenal:
◉ Most recoveries (9)
◉ Most clearances (4)
◉ Most tackles (3)
◉ Most interceptions (2)
◉ =Most blocks (1)
A captain's performance. © pic.twitter.com/s8MM9lhqKm
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 21, 2021
Preferred ahead of Rodri, the veteran Manchester City midfielder played a crucial role in ensuring Manchester City controlled proceedings. Won over possession numerous times and set his teammates forward with slick passes. Finished the game with three tackles, two interceptions and a couple of dribbles as well.
Ilkay Gundogan: 7/10
Was branded a doubt for the game due to an injury, but recovered and started against Arsenal, continuing from where he left off. Pushed forward with intent causing Arsenal problems with his runs. However, lacked the clinical nature that he has shown of late to add to City’s scoreline. Had a shot saved in the second half.
Riyad Mahrez: 7/10
Bright start to the game as he set Sterling up for the only goal with a beautiful cross. Was a menace for Tierney to handle for the most part, although did fade a bit in the latter stages of the contest.
Kevin De Bruyne: 7/10
Making his first start since returning from injury, the Belgian was deployed as a false-nine from where he constantly dragged the Arsenal defenders out of his position. Brilliant pass to set Sterling up for a chance which he missed. Had a couple of shots at goal but wasn’t able to work Leno. Made a game-high three key passes.
Raheem Sterling: 7/10
Raheem Sterling has now scored eight Premier League goals vs Arsenal, only against Bournemouth has he scored more in his career.
He's scored on his last three trips to the Emirates. 👌 pic.twitter.com/xhQJGCk4Df
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) February 21, 2021
The match-winner for Manchester City on the evening. Sterling scored the only goal of the game with a brilliant header after making a fine run into the box. Should have had another goal soon after but took time to pull the trigger. Troubled the hosts with his movement, completing five dribbles, but could have been a bit sharper in front of goal.
Gabriel Jesus: 6/10
Replaced De Bruyne a little after the hour mark. Looked lively, made some good runs, but blasted a good chance way over the bar.