Premier League 2018-19, Arsenal 0-2 Manchester City: 3 key battles that decided the game
Arsene Wenger might have left, but there was no immediate change in Arsenal's fortunes, as the defending champions played them like a fiddle to notch up a 2-0 win in their opener at the Emirates stadium.
In a match that could have just as easily passed for the 39th match of the 2017/18 season, Manchester City shook off the mild coating of dust that had settled on their marauding run, with Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva scoring either side of half-time to put the tie to bed.
Arsenal's team selection left a lot of fans scratching their heads, with new signings Lichtsteiner, Leno and Torreira starting from the bench in favor of newer, unproven prospects and older, washed out stars. Considering all that, 0-2 was far from a fair result for the North Londoners.
As usual, there were a few key individual battles that went a long way in deciding the final outcome of the game. Here's a look at 3 of them:
#1 Raheem Sterling and Benjamin Mendy vs Hector Bellerin
After spending last season on and off the starting XI, Hector Bellerin made a return to the team sheet, but it was not the best of nights for the Spaniard.
Facing a sly Sterling backed up by a fresh and fit Benjamin Mendy, Bellerin had his hands full throughout the game and could not do much to help his team out offensively.
After a slightly disappointing World Cup in Russia where he was forced to play out of his preferred position, it was a return to the basics for Sterling under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola once more, and he returned the favor with a goal we had seen so many teams last season - cutting in from the left and bending the ball to the right corner.
The rare moments when Sterling cooled down, Mendy came to the rescue down the left with his overlapping runs.
Defensively, the Frenchman was very shaky in the first half and almost looked like the weak link in an otherwise solid squad, but things became better in the second and Arsenal could never capitalise on it.
Mendy also got two assists to his name, and as the team gets more and more used to the style, the chances of reward will only get higher. Fantasy players, if you are reading this, take note.