Arsenal succumbed to a 3-1 defeat to Premier League leaders Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, as the North Londoners slipped back down to sixth in the league table, behind Liverpool.
With the thus far undefeated Man City side coming into this game as favourites, goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Agüero pushed Pep Guardiola’s men into a 2-0 lead before Alexandre Lacazette’s strike promised to set up a grand-stand finish.
Gabriel Jesus would deny such a thing from happening, however, as he sealed Arsenal’s fate with a close range finish late in the second half to conclude a 3-1 scoreline.
In hope of pulling off an upset in the blue half of Manchester, Arsène Wenger called on Francis Coquelin, in his first Premier League start of the season, to protect the Gunners defence, with Alex Iwobi also featuring in the face of Alexandre Lacazette’s surprise exclusion from the XI.
City neared the opener in the 10th minute, with Leroy Sané exposing the space in behind to cut a pass across the goal for Sterling before the latter failed to make any sort of contact with the ball.
De Bruyne then offered the Arsenal backline a warning with a fierce snap-shot from the edge of the box, saved by Čech, but the Belgian would leave the former Chelsea goalkeeper beaten soon after.
In the 18th minute, the playmaker made good use of Fernandinho’s presence to work a give-and-go before breaking the deadlock with a left-footed strike across goal.
Arsenal were caught yet again in the 35th minute and could well have been two goals down had it not been for Sterling’s wildly over-hit pass into Sané from a two-on-one scenario, meanwhile a combined intervention by Laurent Koscielny and Čech was required to deny Agüero inside the box moments later.
The Gunners would have to wait until the last minute of the first half for their best moment, as a hopeful long ball up from Iwobi found Sanchez before his lay-off to Aaron Ramsey, who would force a save out of Ederson with a strike at the Brazilian goalkeeper’s near post.
Into the second period, Arsenal couldn’t have asked for a worse entrance into the game, as Fernandinho’s well-timed pass into Sterling provoked a match-up between the winger and Nacho Monreal on their way to Čech’s goal, with Michael Oliver deeming that the Spaniard had brought the City forward down for an early penalty.
The Citizens’ all-time top goalscorer, Agüero, was elected for the spot-kick and would finish via the inside of the post to give the hosts a 2-0 lead in the 50th minute.
An otherwise immaculate Ederson survived a potentially disastrous moment between the sticks in the 55th minute, as he failed to hold on to a powerful strike before regathering his composure, as well as the ball, on his way back to goal, with a Ramsey barge pending.
Second-half substitute Lacazette would claw a goal back for Arsenal after being slipped through by Iwobi on the right, with the North Londoners’ record signing making no mistake from an emphatic shot under Ederson in the 65th minute.
More danger at the Etihad Stadium was then diverted back to Čech’s goal, as the Arsenal shot-stopper shifted across his goal quickly to deny Gabriel Jesus from point-blank range.
City would soon restore their lead, however, with David Silva seemingly coming into play from an offside position prior to pegging a pass back for Jesus to score a third, as the Gunners backline awaited the linesman’s flag.
With the score rounded off at 3-1, Arsenal collect their first defeat since the trip to Vicarage Road versus Watford in mid-October.
By Patrick Ribeiro
Petr Čech (6) – Héctor Bellerín (6), Laurent Koscielny (6), Francis Coquelin (4), Nacho Monreal (5), Sead Kolasinac (5) – Aaron Ramsey (5), Granit Xhaka (3) – Mesut Özil (4), Alex Iwobi (6) – Alexis Sanchez (5)
Subs: Alexandre Lacazette (6), Jack Wilshere (-), Oliver Giroud (-)