Manchester City England forward and Captain of his side for the day Raheem Sterling’s fourth goal in three games got Manchester City back to winning ways in the English Premier League with a 1-0 victory over Arsenal.
Sterling, who sat out England’s international games against Wales, Belgium and Denmark with a hamstring niggle, was back in action to score decisively midway through the first half at the Etihad.
Arsenal, led by Pep Guardiola’s ex-assistant Mikel Arteta, beat City in last season’s FA Cup semi-final and again asked plenty of questions of their hosts on Saturday. Their goalkeeper Ederson Moraes excelled in answering those questions that came his way.
Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez was stationed on the right of a fluid City attack formation and was prominently involved in the opening exchanges. He fired wide inside the opening minute before pulling a cross for the returning Argentine striker Sergio Aguero to head over.
The former Leicester City man’s in-field pass was instrumental to City’s goal as he released Aguero to run at the Arsenal defence in the 23rd minute. The ball fell to Phil Foden and the Englishman’s resulting shot was incompletely saved by Bernd Leno allowing Sterling to prod home the rebound.
Bukayo Saka danced through the City backline to force a stop from Ederson as Arsenal went for a swift response. Leno had to be alert to thwart Mahrez at his near post before the half hour and denied Foden after his defence played into trouble.
It was a game of busy goalkeepers. Ederson sprang into action when Saka and then Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang burst into the City box to keep City’s slim lead.
As has been the case for Arsenal since Arteta took over, the Gunners were in the ascendency after the break and Guardiola played a tactical move by sending on Ilkay Gundogan, the German midfielder returning after a positive coronavirus test, in place of Aguero in an attempt to shore up midfield.
Nevertheless, free-kicks from David Luiz and Nicolas Pepe that did not trouble Ederson were the closest the Gunners came to attaining parity.
On an increasingly rare foray forward, City wing-back Joao Cancelo almost forced David Luiz to prod into his own net. In the end, Sterling’s solitary strike would prove enough.
City next host Porto in their Champions League opener on Wednesday, with Arsenal travelling to face Rapid Vienna in the Europa League a day later.