Five talking points for Manchester City as they kicked off their Premier League title defence with a 2-0 win over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
First test has been passed
While playing the Premier League champions is always a daunting task, there was a feeling that this was not the worst time for Arsenal to face Manchester City. The fact that Kevin De Bruyne was only fit enough to be a substitute would appear to have confirmed that. So Pep Guardiola will be delighted to have come through a tricky fixture with the three points.
A goal in each half was enough to see off the Gunners. There was some rustiness but little hint of complacency – only a reminder that the champions remain the team to beat. Arsenal rode their luck and stayed in it but City showed more than enough to suggest that they are strong enough to dominate just about everyone in the Premier League, home and away.
Sterling shines yet again
One man, in particular, who carried on where he left off was Raheem Sterling, the scorer of the game’s opening goal. Cutting in from the left flank he drilled the ball beyond Petr Cech from just outside the box. After netting 23 goals for City last season, and facing some suggestions that he could not maintain that form in front of goal, this was some start.
Sterling faced the now customary criticism on England duty in the summer, even amid the praise showered on many of his international team-mates. But if anything he looked to have a swagger on his return to Premier League action. At 23, the best years of his career are ahead of him and this could well be another huge season for the City winger.
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Mahrez makes his debut
Riyad Mahrez got the nod ahead of Leroy Sane and was certainly heavily involved at the Emirates Stadium. The £60m signing from Leicester had 48 touches of the ball in the first half and tested Petr Cech with a low free-kick too but it was not a completely convincing performance from him on his Premier League debut for City.
Some of his decision-making in the final third was not what it might have been despite getting regular opportunities to run at the Arsenal defence. At times, he can seem to slow things down on the counter-attack and ignore simple, threaded passes. City’s style is very different to that of Leicester and it will take time for Mahrez to adapt.
Bernardo Silva’s new role
After delivering an impressive performance in the Community Shield at Wembley, Bernardo Silva was a pivotal figure once again on the opening weekend of the Premier League season. His drilled finish for City’s second goal was not only highly-skilled but came at a crucial stage of the game with the result in the balance.
Bernardo Silva covered 12.69 kilometres, more than anyone else on the pitch.
The signing of Mahrez seemed to threaten Silva’s minutes on the pitch but he has shown that he can also operate in a more central role and is making light of the unavailability of his namesake David Silva so far. The Portuguese player covered more ground than anyone else on the pitch and has really stepped up for his team when needed.
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Mendy will make a difference
There were some sloppy moments from Benjamin Mendy in this game. He dived in needlessly in the first half, allowing Hector Bellerin to have a clear sight at goal, and after the break he was a little fortunate not to concede a penalty too. And yet, the overriding image of his afternoon was the left-back charging down the flank time and time again.
Mendy provided the assist for both of Manchester City’s goals – a simple ball to Sterling for the first goal and a smart cut-back to Silva for the second. The France international was only fit enough to start four matches in the club’s march to the title last season. He could offer an extra dimension for his side as they look to go and defend the crown.
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