Arsenal 0-3 Manchester City: Arsenal going nowhere with shambolic Mustafi and Koscielny
When Arsene Wenger walked out of the tunnel ahead of Arsenal’s Premier League game against league-leaders Manchester City, one would have been forgiven to think he was the away manager.
The Emirates was dead silent during the warm-up, with the few fans present almost outnumbered by the visibly empty seats in the stands.
When the game itself kicked off, the atmosphere was not any different as the same old Arsenal showed up: poor at the back, disjointed in midfield and often reactive instead of being proactive.
But for all the struggles of the side it was the central defensive pairing of Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny that was most apathetic.
The duo have a wealth of experience at both club and international level, but their performances this season depict exactly why the Gunners are not serious contenders for any trophy.
Against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final last Sunday, Mustafi was at fault for two out of the three goals scored by Pep Guardiola’s side. First, the German failed to compete with Sergio Aguero for a long ball, before again allowing the striker to overpower him with a shove to slot home the opener.
On Thursday, both he and Koscielny were once again below-par, as the Cityzens repeated the 3-0 scoreline at the Emirates to maintain their 16-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.
A lot can be said about Arsenal’s midfield too, with Granit Xhaka’s lack of discipline, coupled with Aaron Ramsey’s failure to track back, badly exposing the Gunners to the lethal attacking unit of Man City.
However, the win was made all too easy for the Blues as a result of a lack of command in the Gunners’ defence. Hector Bellerin endured one of his worst outings in an Arsenal shirt, while Sead Kolasinac couldn’t handle the flair of Bernardo Silva on the right.
On a day when the Gunners were expected to make a statement by giving a positive response after that one-sided 3-0 mauling four days earlier, fans were rather served a reminder of why the club needed defensive reinforcements more than bringing in attackers.
The signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan was a sign that Arsenal are finally ready to snatch some of the world’s biggest stars, but the club is definitely going nowhere with their current defensive unit – more so with the out-of-form Mustafi and Koscielny as their centre-back pairing.