Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal: Premier League – as it happened

Scott Murray on 17 October 2020

Jamie Jackson was at the Etihad tonight, and his report his landed. Click and enjoy ... and thanks for reading this MBM!

The matchwinner Raheem Sterling speaks! “We have dropped a couple of points early on, and needed three to kick-start our season, and that’s a vital win against a top side. I wouldn’t say confidence had gone, but we were disappointed, and today gives us a leap of confidence for the next couple of games. I’m just grateful to help out the team today. Me and Sergio took up some great positions in the pockets at times. Arsenal are a difficult team and closed the pitch really well. But we had some good chances.”

A slight curate’s egg of a game. City were good, but not great; Arsenal showed some promise, but achieved little. A draw wouldn’t have been a complete affront to the concept of justice, but City were deserved winners on balance, and in Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling boasted the game’s two star turns. So fair’s fair. “It is true that it’s nice for us Arsenal fans not to watch games in constant worry of suddenly shipping five goals,” writes Kári Tulinius. “While the rest of the league has put on a clown suit, Arsenal is dressing sensibly. The team used to be a guarantee of fun, but now we’re an oasis of dull in a desert of fun.”

That result catapults City up to tenth place, on seven points. They’ve only played four, unlike Arsenal, who are now fifth on nine points after five games. Everton still lead on 13, three clear of second-placed Liverpool. This is going to be a tight season, isn’t it? We’re due one. Very much looking forward to it!

FULL TIME: Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal

Just enough time for the new man Partey to pick up a booking for a cynical tug on Mahrez ... and that’s it. City get their second win of the season, despite never finding top form. Arsenal played well in bursts, but rarely threatened.

90 min +3: Tierney wins a corner off Mahrez out on the left ... but the referee doesn’t notice the small deflection and it’s a goal kick that should be enough to see City through.

90 min +2: But Silva knocks Gabriel over, and that’s a free kick out on the left. A chance for Arsenal to load the box ... but the set piece is easily cleared by the hosts. Ederson has had next to nothing to do in this second half.

90 min +1: City look compact and comfortable at the moment.

90 min: There will be four extra minutes of this.

89 min: Fernandinho comes on for Foden.

88 min: Aubameyang drives down the left, chasing a long pass into the box. Walker again refuses to budge, ushering the ball back to his keeper and drawing a frustrated foul into the bargain.

87 min: Space for Sterling down the left. He enters the box and nearly manufactures an opportunity to shoot, but can’t quite do so, then fails to tee up Foden in the middle. City haven’t put this game to bed yet.

86 min: With time fast running out for his team, Arsenal fan Damien Durrant is in stoic, reflective mood: “At the very least in the Arteta era I don’t worry about five-goal shellackings against top teams that plagued the second half of the Wenger era.”

85 min: Luiz curls a fine cross in from a deep position on the right. Aubameyang can’t get above Walker to win a header that would surely result in a goal, six yards out. Goal kick. Fine defending by Walker, who refused to be cowed.

84 min: Ake is booked for taking a brazen age over a garden-variety free kick in the midfield.

83 min: The last throw of the dice for Arsenal. Pepe and Xhaka are replaced by Nketiah and, making his Arsenal debut, Partey.

82 min: Pepe curls a decent effort around the outside of the wall, but it’s always going wide of the left-hand post ... and Ederson had it covered anyway.

81 min: Foden gives the ball away to Saka, who feeds Aubameyang. The striker advances on the box and is brought down by Walker. Another free kick in a fairly central position, 25 yards out.

79 min: City are pressing Arsenal back, enjoying this period of control as the clock ticks on. No rush.

77 min: Cancelo dribbles wonderfully in from the right, getting all the way to the byline and fizzing a low ball across the face of goal. Luiz swings a wild leg and nearly slices into his own net. The ball bobbles agonisingly wide left of goal. From the corner, Mahrez sends the ball orbiting towards the site of the old Maine Road.

76 min: Sterling jinks his way into the City box on the left, but can’t get past Bellerin. Corner, though. A fast game of head tennis follows, but City can’t get anything on target.

74 min: Arsenal are seeing more of the ball right now, but it’s all a little sterile in the middle of the park, and time is running out for the Gunners. City edge closer to their second win of this infant season.

72 min: Silva runs into Gabriel in the Arsenal box. He wants a penalty, but it’s shoulder to shoulder, so no dice.

71 min: More scrappy passing. It’s been a slightly strange second half, both teams threatening to click into gear at different times, neither quite managing it.

69 min: Luiz tries to send a Cristiano Ronaldoesque dipper/swerver into the top left, but gets it all wrong. Goal kick. Then an Arsenal chance, as Willian makes way for Lacazette.

68 min: Dias is booked for crudely blocking an in-flight Saka. A free kick 25 yards out in a fairly central position. Luiz and Willian both fancy this.

Ruben Dias fouls Bukayo Saka and receives a yellow card
Ruben Dias fouls Bukayo Saka and receives a yellow card Photograph: Michael Regan/AFP/Getty Images


67 min: Willian, Bellerin and Pepe nearly open City up with some smart interplay down the right. Not quite. On the touchline, Arteta applauds the ambition.

65 min: Aguero, coming back from that extended lay-off, has done well to last this long. He’s replaced by Gundogan, and looks to have enjoyed his runout, laughing while clapping an imaginary crowd as he troops off.

64 min: Luiz has a dig from the left-hand corner of the City box. It’s deflected out for a corner, from which Xhaka is penalised for hassling Ederson.

63 min: Cancelo is booked for landing his studs on the back of Tierney’s leg. That was a saucy one, and he’s lucky not to see red.

61 min: Mahrez and Gabriel do-se-do along the byline for a while before Arsenal get the foul. This has gone really scrappy.

59 min: Ederson takes an age over a goal kick, causing your MBM hack to drift away into daydream. You’ve missed nothing.

57 min: Both teams ping it around briskly, but to little effect.

55 min: Mahrez twinkles in from the right and threads a shot towards the bottom left. Leno does well to get down and smother.

53 min: Tierney backs himself in a boot-and-chase race with Cancelo ... but overcooks the initial clump. Goal kick ... and then Ederson is nearly closed down by Aubameyang. A slightly farcical few seconds.

51 min: Xhaka and Saka combine to send Tierney romping down the left touchline. He crosses deep, hoping to find Aubameyang. Dias slashes wildly out for a corner. The set piece is half cleared, but returned with looping interest by Tierney, the ball nearly dropping under the bar from distance. It just clears it, and Ederson looked to have it covered. But this is a lively enough start to the half by Arsenal. Again.

49 min: Good news for Arsenal: Pepe is back on.

48 min: All of which is a shame from Arsenal’s point of view, as they had started the half immediately on the front foot.

47 min: Pepe is up, though as he leaves the field of play and trots around the perimeter, it’s not yet clear whether he’s good to continue or he’ll be subbed.

46 min: Aubameyang whips in from the left. Pepe gets above Ake and plants a header straight at Ederson. Pepe lands awkwardly on his knee and goes down yelling in pain. Concern for Arsenal here.

Ake in action against Pepe
Ake in action against Pepe Photograph: Martin Rickett/EPA


City get the second half underway. Neither side has made a half-time change.

Half-time entertainment. Two impressive, intelligent and generally dependable goalkeepers on patrol tonight at the Etihad. Anyway, here’s a Jonathan Wilson column about Jordan Pickford.

HALF TIME: Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal

Some more space for Saka, who has been really lively this evening, and he whips a low cross in from the left. It’s blocked out for a corner. From the set piece, Walker nearly connects with Gabriel’s head, his boot dangerously high. Arsenal demand a penalty, and are perplexed when the whistle blows for the break ... and VAR shows no interest whatsoever. File that one under You’ve Seen Them Given.

45 min: There will be one added minute of a first half that’s fair flown by. Here’s Barry Bryan: “I’d agree that Aguero in no way intended violence by grabbing Ms. Massey-Ellis, but massaging a woman’s shoulder at the workplace is inappropriate in almost every circumstance. Call it a micro aggression or whatever you like, or argue what he would or would not have done with a man there, but the commentators I have here in the US didn’t call it out, and that’s disappointing.”


44 min: Pepe turns on the jets down the right and makes for the City box. Ake slides in, timing his challenge perfectly: no foul, no risk of penalty, and the ball breaking off Pepe’s shin for a goal kick.

42 min: Aguero disputes a throw-in decision, and sticks his hand around the neck of the assistant referee. Nothing aggressive, though you’re always taking a risk. The lino (female) doesn’t make a meal of it, and we play on.


41 min: But Arsenal are finally starting to knock at the door. Pepe dinks a ball through the middle, sending Aubameyang one on one. Ederson spreads and saves, and the flag goes up for offside, though had Aubameyang slotted home, that would surely have been overturned, the striker clearly onside. Though with VAR being the abject fiasco it is, nothing is ever certain.

Ederson makes a save from Aubameyang
Ederson makes a save from Aubameyang Photograph: Michael Regan/PA


40 min: Arsenal decide that the best form of defence is attack, with Tierney and Saka combining to battle their way past Rodri down the left. A cute one-two, and Saka is free, albeit without much space and time in the box. He tries the chip over Ederson; it springs off the keeper’s shoulder and balloons inches wide of the top right. The resulting corner is no use.

38 min: Ceballos creams a pass down the left for Aubameyang, who hopes to romp clear but is forced to settle for a corner off Walker. Willian takes. Ederson punches clear confidently despite being swarmed by the blue shirts that aren’t the blue shirts worn by his team. It doesn’t have to be like this, you know.

37 min: Saka strips Cancelo of possession and looks to make off down the left, but he’s subtly shoved in the back. No foul, throw to City. Arteta isn’t happy at all.

35 min: Arsenal get caught playing out from the back, and the ball’s quickly shuttled to Foden, free in the box on the left! He’s one on one with Leno, but his attempt to poke it into the corner is thwarted by the keeper’s telescopic leg. Brilliant keeping, and a save that keeps Arsenal in it ... because after that confident first 20 minutes, they’re being pulled around all over the shop now.

34 min: Mahrez sashays down the right, turning Saka this way and that, before being forced on the outside. He gets a shot away nonetheless, but it’s always heading high from a tight angle.

33 min: Foden slides the ball down the left for Aguero, who has options in the middle, but slams the ball straight into Luiz’s midriff. He claims a penalty, half-heartedly because Luiz had both hands clasped behind his back.

Meanwhile, Thomas Partey warms up on the touchline
Meanwhile, Thomas Partey warms up on the touchline Photograph: Alex Livesey/EPA


31 min: City tiki-taka it about awhile. Hey, does anyone remember Spangles tiki-taka?

29 min: Foden dances down the left and wins another corner. Leno gets his hands on that, after a fashion. A sense that City are beginning to find that old relentless groove, though, with Arsenal sitting a little deeper all of a sudden.

28 min: Mahrez has been fantastic so far. He jinks in from the right, nipping past Tierney with absurd ease, and taking two goes at slapping home at the near post from a tight angle. Leno turns the ball out, then claims the corner. Yet another near miss for the hosts, and this is City looking slightly uncertain by their own standards!

26 min: From the resulting corner, Willian swings in from the right. Pepe’s diving header whistles inches wide of the top right. Ederson’s feet were planted; had that been on target, it was in.

25 min: A fine response by Arsenal, who breezes past Rodri on the left, enters the box, and shoots hard towards the top left. Ederson is forced to tip over. A fine effort out of next to nothing.

24 min: Arsenal have probably had the better of the play, yet it’s City who have scored and gone very close twice. A strange old thing at times, sport.

GOAL! Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal (Sterling 23)

City have been quiet, but they explode into life here. Mahrez spins away from Tierney out on the right. He slips inside for Aguero, who drives forward before slipping Foden into the box on the left. Foden drops a shoulder to pass Bellerin with ease, and shoots. Leno parries, but only to Sterling, who steers the rebound cleverly into a gap at the bottom left. Brilliant sweeping move!

Sterling scores from the rebound
Sterling scores from the rebound Photograph: Alex Livesey/Reuters
Aguero joins the celebrations
Aguero joins the celebrations Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images


21 min: Tierney and Saka combine niftily down the left, the latter crossing for Bellerin, bowling in from the other flank. Bellerin wins his header, but he’s put too much pressure on Cancelo and the whistle blows.

20 min: “Why aren’t Arsenal wearing their first kit?” wonders Damian Durrant. “Is it a special kit in honour of something? Did I miss the memo?” Yep: it said that the results were in, rampant capitalism had won at the expense of culture and dignity, everything’s over, and it’s all been rubber-stamped by The Man.

18 min: City could easily have had two goals already, with both Aguero and Mahrez going close, yet otherwise they’ve been a little unnerved by Arsenal’s breezy start. The hosts are struggling to put it together at the minute.

16 min: Willian is clipped by Foden as he drives up the right. No booking, but City are really trying it on at the moment. They look panicked every time Arsenal steal the ball and move upfield.

14 min: Now the card does come out. Rodri is the recipient, a result of a cynical tug on Saka’s shirt. Arsenal look really lively every time they move forward, though none of their moves have yet to click ... or been allowed to click.

Rodri and Saka battle for the ball
Rodri and Saka battle for the ball Photograph: Alex Livesey/PA


13 min: City mess up the corner, and Arsenal try to break en masse. Mahrez grabs Pepe by the arm, slowing the counter down to a halt. He really should be booked for that, but it’s just a free kick. Arsenal aren’t happy, and they’ve got something of a point.

12 min: Aguero’s busy run down the inside right wins a corner. From that, Foden has a crack from the edge of the box that’s charged down and deflected out for another corner, this time on the left.

11 min: Arsenal look up for this, attempting to flood forward on the counter every time they intercept. An approach that should lead to a lively game. “Mahrez looked lively and scored for Algeria last week in a friendly against Mexico on Dutch soil. It looks like he has maintained that spark into today’s match, with the intent of ruining Arsenal’s Partey atmosphere.” Peter Oh bringing the puns there, so I don’t have to.

9 min: Aubameyang’s flick down the left allows Saka to tear off down the flank. Rodri does extremely well to get over and ease him off the ball, just as it looked as though the Arsenal youngster was preparing to bear down on goal.

7 min: Mahrez teases Tierney, Gabriel and Saka, drawing all three towards him on the right, before chipping infield for Aguero, who flashes a close-range header over the bar. Close. But for a few inches here and there, City would already be two up.

6 min: Dias is nearly robbed by Aubameyang, 30 yards from his own goal. He sorts his feet out just in time and wanders away from trouble.

4 min: Both teams take turns to stroke it about nicely. An open feel to this game already. Well, it is the 2020-21 Premier League, I guess it goes without saying.

Joao Cancelo and Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos battle for the ball
Joao Cancelo and Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos battle for the ball Photograph: Michael Regan/PA


2 min: Arsenal play it out from the back crisply and neatly ... though there’s a fair chance quite a few of their fans had their hearts in their mouths, as the defence just about worked their way through City’s press. Say what you like, you can’t call them out for a lack of bravery.

40 seconds: Mahrez cuts in from the right, teed up by Sterling, and curls a powerful effort inches wide of the top-left corner. Leno was nowhere. So close to a sensational start by City!

Arsenal get the ball rolling ... but not before the knee of justice. There’s no room for racism. Challenge it, report it, change it. Black lives matter.

The teams are out! Manchester City are in their sky blue shirts. Arsenal, who play in red, and whose second shirt is white, change into third-choice blue. There’s no point fighting against the tide armed with nothing but a pointed stick, you may as well let modernity wash over you. We’ll be off in a minute.

Breaking team news. Rob Holding has tweaked his hamstring in the warm-up, and will be replaced in the Arsenal starting XI by David Luiz.

Mikel Arteta’s turn. “We were tempted to start Partey but he had a day and a half of training, so we need to be a little bit patient. We have tried to put the best game together. A lot will depend on individual performance, quality performance. It’s the moment, it’s the occasion, and it is today.”

Pep talk. “It is good for us that Aguero is back. It has been a long time, we don’t know his condition but it is better to start than come from the bench. It’s good. There will be high pressing from both sides and quality up front. We will watch a good game, like we have seen so far all games in the Premier League.” He also reports that Laporte and Mendy are both out injured: “Laporte not much, but Mendy a little bit longer.”

The big news for Manchester City: Sergio Aguero is back! He’s one of four changes to the team that drew 1-1 at Leeds before the international break. Nathan Ake, Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva also return; Aymeric Laporte, Benjamin Mendy, Ferran Torres and the injured Kevin De Bruyne make way.

Arsenal’s deadline-day signing Thomas Partey is named on the bench. The Gunners meanwhile make three changes to the team that won 2-1 over Sheffield United a fortnight ago. Rob Holding, Granit Xhaka and Nicolas Pepe replace David Luiz, Mohamed Elneny and Eddie Nketiah.

The teams

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Ake, Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva, Rodri, Foden, Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling.
Subs: Stones, Gundogan, Steffen, Torres, Fernandinho, Delap, Garcia.

Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Ceballos, Xhaka, Saka, Willian, Pepe, Aubameyang.
Subs: Lacazette, Runarsson, Maitland-Niles, Thomas, Luiz, Elneny, Nketiah.

Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Lancashire).


Manchester City have won their last six Premier League matches against Arsenal to the aggregate tune of 17-2. That should make this evening’s match easy to predict ... except Arsenal beat City fairly easily in last season’s semi-finals, they’ve got a new superstar signing in Thomas Partey, and the hosts will have to do without their injured genius Kevin De Bruyne. Factor in Arsenal’s fast start to the season, and City’s uncharacteristically slow one, and is set up rather deliciously. Another City romp? Or will Arsenal’s resurgence continue apace? We find out soon. It’s on!

Kick off: 5.30pm BST.

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