Aguero makes it 2-1 Man City
MANCHESTER, England -- Sergio Aguero scored a hat trick as Manchester City moved back up to second in the Premier League, cutting Liverpool's lead at the top of the Premier League to just two points with a 3-1 victory over Arsenal.
Sergio Aguero has been City's man for the big occasion over the best part of a decade and the Argentinian delivered again. The champions can't afford slip-ups if they are to keep the pressure on leaders Liverpool and Aguero responded when City were finding it difficult at the Etihad Stadium.
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City's lack of confidence is both a surprise and a concern if they are to chase down Liverpool at the top of the Premier League. The home side tore into the Gunners in the opening 10 minutes, scoring one, having another disallowed and wrongfully denied a penalty. But Arsenal equalised with their first opportunity and City's belief largely disappeared for the next 30 minutes.
7 -- The decision to move Fernandinho into a hybrid defender-midfielder role was a left-field and courageous decision from Pep Guardiola. City looked flat in the midweek defeat to Newcastle and the City boss tried to shake up his lineup while sticking to their passing principles. While the move was a success, Guardiola's side were still not at their lively best in the first half until another half-time team talk that seemed to shift the momentum back to the champions.
GK Ederson, 6 -- Could do little about Laurent Koscielny's well-worked goal but was quickly off his line on a couple of occasions to snuff out potentially dangerous breaks.
DF Kyle Walker, 6 -- Guardiola didn't appear happy with the full-back in the first half when he was defending directly in front of him. Not sharp enough to close the ball down to stop Arsenal threats.
DF Fernandinho, 8 -- Played as a centre-half without the ball and pushed into midfield when City had it. A high-pressure role but coped with it well.
DF Nicolas Otamendi, 6 -- An old-school performance from his early days at the Etihad Stadium when he was too rash with his challenges and it caused him to lose his position.
DF Aymeric Laporte, 6 -- Shifted out into his unfavoured left-back spot. Created the opener and had a goal ruled out for a close offside but didn't always look comfortable in the position defensively.
MF Ilkay Gundogan, 7 -- Sitting at the base of midfield and dovetailed well with Fernandinho's bursts forward. Made a perfect pass in the buildup to the second goal.
MF Kevin De Bruyne, 6 -- Lead City on the attack but, at times, strived too much to make something happen rather than sticking to City's normal patient strategy.
MF David Silva, 6 -- Great close control and tried to slide in neat passes around the edge of the box but not much came off for the playmaker.
FW Raheem Sterling, 7 -- Quiet start but showed his quality when his clever movement and touch that created the crucial second goal.
FW Sergio Aguero, 9 -- Three simple finishes, perhaps, but it was all about his movement and hard work off the ball to create the space for himself.
FW Bernardo Silva, 7 -- Busy on the right wing trying to make things happen and shifted the ball quickly with De Bruyne.
FW Gabriel Jesus, NR -- One smart run and shot.
FW Riyad Mahrez, NR -- No time to make an impact.
Arsenal suffered an expected defeat to Manchester City, as a Sergio Aguero hat trick helped the champions to a 3-1 win on Sunday.
Unai Emery's men conceded inside the opening minute, and although they equalised, they never looked likely to end their four-year wait for an away win at a top-six rival.
Arsenal were outclassed, so it is difficult to pick out positives. The main thing to give fans hope would have been the performance of teenager Matteo Guendouzi, who was particularly good in the first half.
Arsenal will most likely never be able to match City's spending power, so uncovering rough diamonds like Guendouzi at bargain prices is essential to their progress.
Emery will be concerned by yet another defensive injury, with Shkodran Mustafi forced off by a back problem. With the transfer window shut, he must try and make the best of the options he has available.
The Arsenal coach will also be frustrated by the timing of the first two goals Arsenal conceded. The first was within seconds of kickoff, and the second was shortly before half time. That suggests Arsenal's concentration was lacking. Had they avoided those costly errors, they might have made more of a game of it.
5 -- Emery earned that with Arsenal's first half performance, which was relatively resolute. Unfortunately for him, his team offered almost nothing in the second period.
GK Bernd Leno, 7 -- The keeper made nine saves to keep the score respectable, and had little chance with any of the goals.
DF Stephan Lichtsteiner, 4 -- Emery will be disappointed his most experienced defender completely failed to track his man for City's crucial second goal. The absence of Ainsley Maitland-Niles was problematic, but it's approaching the point where Carl Jenkinson looks like the superior option at full-back.
DF Laurent Koscielny, 6 -- Without Koscielny, the score might have been even uglier for Arsenal. His return to a decent level is one of the feelgood stories of Arsenal's season.
DF Shkodran Mustafi, 6 -- Was lucky to avoid conceding a penalty for a first half shirt pull on Aguero. Inconsistent though he is, it would be a nightmare for Arsenal to lose yet another senior defender to injury.
DF Nacho Monreal, 6 -- Playing full-back against City is always a tricky task, but Monreal made a decent fist of it at the Etihad. He remains a better defender than Sead Kolasinac, but does not offer the same threat going forward.
MF Alex Iwobi, 5 -- The Nigeria international will be extremely disappointed to have dallied on the ball inside the first minute and effectively cost Arsenal a goal. He had little impact going forward, having been tasked with protecting his vulnerable full-back.
MF Lucas Torreira, 6 -- At times in the torrid first 10 minutes, it felt as if Torreira was the only thing preventing Arsenal from being on the receiving end of a hammering. His tigerish tackling was absolutely necessary in the middle of the park, although once he was booked he faded.
MF Matteo Guendouzi, 7 -- The personality the teenager shows on the pitch is quite remarkable. Whatever the stage and whoever the opponent, Guendouzi, 19, never seems daunted. He is not perfect -- he occasionally lets runners drift off him -- but he's a hugely promising player and one of the signings of the season.
MF Sead Kolasinac, 6 -- Selected in an unfamiliar left midfield role in order to provide cover for the back four. As usual, he was one of Arsenal's more effective attacking outlets. He also provided an option for Leno's longer goal kicks, challenging for headers against Kyle Walker.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 5 -- A peripheral figure. The one time he raced through on goal, Ederson was quick off his line to deny him.
FW Alexandre Lacazette, 6 -- There's a lot to like about Lacazette's gutsy forward play. On a difficult day, he got stuck in and offered Arsenal something of a focal point.
MF Aaron Ramsey, 5 -- Came on for Iwobi but didn't really feature in the game. He probably should have started.
MF Denis Suarez, 5 -- Introduced for Kolasinac but made little impression.
DF Konstantinos Mavropanos, N/R -- Came on for Mustafi to make his comeback from injury.