The Citizens lost ground in the race for points at the top of the Premier League, despite dominating for large parts at the Emirates, with their fifth League defeat of the campaign.
Another frustrating defeat for Manchester City. Arsenal gave them a tactical masterclass in how to perform against a big rival – and despite the slender scoreline, if not for Joe Hart, it would have been much more comfortable.
Below, are the player ratings from a disappointing evening for the travelling sky Blues.
Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City: Player ratings
Goalkeeper and defence
Joe Hart: As has been shown on numerous occasions this term already, whenever City are under-performing, there is always one man they can rely on. Without Joe tonight, they would have certainly lost by a more comfortable scoreline. Quick to react in dangerous situations, he made a great stop to deny Aaron Ramsey‘s strike from point-blank range, whilst making smart saves and exuding confidence with a frail backline in-front of him. Could do nothing to stop Theo Walcott‘s brilliant opener, unlucky with Olivier Giroud‘s strike shortly afterward. 7
Bacary Sagna: The experienced Frenchman was unsurprisingly greeted with an unsavoury reception on his return to the Emirates, especially given the manner of his exit last summer. To be fair to him, the fullback rarely put a foot wrong. Couldn’t cope with Walcott’s speed early on, but not many would be actively able to. Credited with the assist for Touré’s late stunner, delivered some decent crosses and otherwise, was defensively solid. 6
Nicolas Otámendi: Slightly better than his centre-back partner, the talented Argentine was far-from-perfect at the Emirates. Partly because, in the absence of Vincent Kompany alongside him, the former Valencia man looks on a virtual tight rope. Some of his challenges were rash and late, meaning he had to play 40 minutes with a booking hanging over him after a needless tackle on Giroud. Made one or two important interceptions and was sharp elsewhere but, he certainly looks much stronger with his captain’s guidance as he firmly gets accustomed to the rigours of English football. 5.5
Eliaquim Mangala: Well, well, well. His error was gift-wrapped as an early Christmas present for the hosts, and they unsurprisingly took it with style. His erratic decision-making has been highlighted as one of his errors for improvement, if he is to achieve success at City. Supporters have, once again, voiced their concerns as to whether he’s a viable option in their first-team.. 5
Aleksandar Kolarov: Hmm… He’s been largely ineffective over the past few weeks – attacking wise – and that was again the case against the Gunners. Joel Campbell’s tireless workrate ensured the experienced Serbian had limited time to get forward, if at all. His deliveries into the box were lazy, lacked elevation or whip, and were consistently cut out before reaching a teammate. Defensively, wasn’t the best either. 5
An inconsistent midfield five
Fernandinho: The Brazilian was as effective as he could be, trying to shut out Arsenal’s counter-attacking movement in midfield. Wasn’t helped at all by Touré, who again deserted his defensive duties off-the-ball, and looked like a primary school player eager to goal-hang at times. Bizarre – but the 30-year-old was agile, strong and one of City’s best players, they long for another like him in that position. 7
Fabian Delph: The best way to describe Delph’s performance, would say he was unlucky. Started out on the left-wing, which still strikes me as a baffling decision. He’s a CDM/CM/CAM – not a LW. Despite this though, had plenty of energy and never gave up in midfield battles. Admirable attitude. 6
David Silva: Was lively and energetic in the first 45 – finding pockets of space within seconds, trying to create chances in-and-around the final third. With this in mind, the silky Spaniard began to fade in the second-half before being replaced. Still not back to his best yet, which is understandable given his long injury lay-off. Patience.. 6
Kevin de Bruyne: He worked hard, both on as well as off-the-ball, to try and create some magic. His evening though, was typified by the decision not to square the ball into Silva’s path, instead going for goal. If he’d scored, would have been heralded as a genius. Instead, his low effort trickled an inch wide of Petr Čech‘s far post – leading to the talented Belgian being heavily criticised for being ‘selfish’, which is ironic considering he’s also been criticised for being too unselfish at times. You can’t win! 6
Yaya Touré: His display, as per usual, divided opinion. Here’s the way I saw it though: the marauding, powerful Ivorian, who everyone – City supporters and Europe in general – have known for five years, only really got into gear in the final twenty minutes. By that time though, it was far too late, because the damage was already done. Hopefully it’s becoming more obvious though, that he can only play as a CAM to be effective. Disappointing display in a role that he shouldn’t be playing. His late excellent finish was a flash of individual brilliance, the kind we’re all used to seeing. But we want, and need, more. 6.5
… and a less-than-100% fit forward
Sergio Agüero: The return of Agüero was much-awaited, but he unsurprisingly failed to live up to the pre-match billing. Unsurprising because, just like Silva, he’s been out for an extended period already this term – and we’re only in December. Always needs a bit of time to regain his match sharpness after injuries, and although he was less-than-100% fit, still caused the Gunners’ backline plenty of problems, especially at the start of the second-half. 6
Raheem Sterling: Three words. Should have started. The 21-year-old, who was linked with a switch to Arsenal last season before joining the sky Blues in the summer, is known for his blistering speed, as well as his dribbling qualities, and the ability to link-up with teammates easily. When he was introduced, gave the visitors a much-needed spark in the final third and was constantly trying to create chances. The only effective method of stopping his progress, was by visibly frustrating the youngster, with cynical fouls and physically trying to outmuscle him. 7
Wilfried Bony: His omission from the starting XI was a slight surprise, also. Considering Agüero had only just returned from an injury, you’d have expected the Ivorian to start ahead of him. Then, 60-65 minutes in, the alteration would be made – a returning world-class forward against a tiring backline, do the math. Anyway, when he was introduced, he also tried to make things happen. If not for Čech’s sharp reflexes, could have halved the deficit much earlier, and the comeback could have been sealed. 6.5
Jesús Navas: Navas is that player who provides a much-needed injection of pace. What’s he good at? Running at defences, driving down the byline – looking to create something. What is he not good at? Seemingly, everything else. He can’t shoot, has no composure in-front of goal, and dithers in possession where others, such as Mesut Özil, would be busy creating another assist. 5