Much work to be done by Emery’s Arsenal following opening day defeat
Unai Emery’s Arsenal made a disappointing start to the Premier League seasion. The Gunners boss was handed a baptism of fire when drawn against last season’s champions – this year’s betting favourites – Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium.
Despite having a great chance to fire a warning shot to their top-tier rivals, laying down a marker for the campaign ahead, Arsenal left empty-handed, Emery retreating to the safety of his office with more questions than answers following a 2-0 reverse.
Experts predicted the worst before kick-off with Man City marked as favourites to win the match, and the Cityzens more than lived up to the hype, breezing to all three points thanks to a strong showing. It took the victors just 14 minutes to get their noses in front, England attacker Raheem Sterling bulging the net not long after the crowd – just shy of 60,000 – settled into their seats. The 23-year-old skipped past a couple of defenders before bulleting an effort home. That set the pace for the rest of the afternoon.
Despite dominating possession at the home of their opponents, it took 50 minutes before the visiting fans had a second goal to cheer. Talented Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva found himself in space in an attacking position and with the Arsenal defenders seemingly in no rush to close the gap, the 24-year-old seized his opportunity to rifle home, doubling his employer’s advantage.
Speaking to the press at full-time Unai Emery refused to be too hard on his new recruits, instead picking out the positives. Despite the scoreline, the Spaniard thought his crew were improving as the match went on and could take heart from the display.
It would perhaps be unfair to judge the team after one match against the champions but there were a couple of alarming stats that wouldn’t have gone unnoticed by supporters.
Arsenal finished the match without a goal and that’s little surprise after putting just three of nine attempts on target. 42% – 58% possession in the Sky Blues’ favour gave a fair reflection of how the 90 minutes played out.
Bookmakers didn’t hold much hope for Arsenal forcing their way into title contention before the curtain went up and the Premier League betting with the first round of results in the bag had them as big as 25/1 to win their first PL trophy since 2004. A top-four finish and return to Champions League football next summer is 2/1.
As well as Man City’s 2-0 win there were also opening day victories for Liverpool – who lead the table – Chelsea, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Watford, Manchester United and Tottenham.
Arsenal fans now look to the future, but they have a tricky opening half-dozen games ahead. With the City result now in the books they take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in week two before tackling West Ham, Cardiff, Newcastle and Everton.
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