LONDON (AP) — Manchester City outclassed Arsenal by 3-0 for the second time in less than a week, this time humiliating the Gunners in front of their home fans in the English Premier League on Thursday.
City had three goals well before halftime, as Bernardo Silva, David Silva, and Leroy Sane capitalized on Arsenal’s ever-present defensive frailties.
“Mentally, we were strong,” City manager Pep Guardiola said. “We were clinical. We scored three outstanding goals.”
Arsenal squandered an early chance to get back into the match in the second half when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s penalty was easily saved.
The result gave City a 16-point lead at the league summit ahead of Manchester United, and it left Arsenal in sixth place and 10 points off the Champions League places, and manager Arsene Wenger facing further scorn from the team’s fans and more questions about his future.
The embarrassment was a double dose of disgrace for Arsenal, which lost to City 3-0 in the League Cup final on Sunday at Wembley Stadium.
“They took advantage of defense weaknesses,” Wenger said. “At the end of the day, we lost against a top quality team. It’s a combination of their quality and they’re high in confidence.”
For Guardiola, he is inching ever closer to winning his first league title in England. He told his players not to be complacent even with such a commanding lead.
“We are fighting for the most important title of the season, the Premier League,” he said. “I reminded them how difficult the Premier League is.”
Guardiola said that nothing is guaranteed with City facing a tough run-in, including hosting holder Chelsea this Sunday.
“We must be focused,” he said. “The next six fixtures in the Premier League are terrible in terms of the quality of our opponents. Four of our fixtures are also away!”
In below-freezing temperatures at Emirates Stadium, Bernardo Silva opened the scoring in the 15th minute after Leroy Sane was allowed to dribble across the pitch from near the touchline. He skipped past four Arsenal defenders before laying off to Silva, who curled the ball over goalkeeper Petr Cech’s fingertips.
David Silva doubled the scoreline in the 28th after Sane again outfoxed Arsenal’s defense, this time turning past Shkodran Mustafi to cut toward goal. He whizzed a pass inside to Sergio Aguero on the edge of the area, before Silva was played in to dribble past right back Hector Bellerin too easily before firing past Cech.
Sane had the simplest of goals in the 33rd after a bright counterattack from City involving Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne. At the end of it, a cross from Kyle Walker fooled Bellerin and he and Cech fell over as the ball landed near Sane, who just had to poke the ball in at the near post.
It was the first time Arsenal conceded three goals in the first half of a Premier League home game. The Arsenal crowd was incensed, booing loudly at halftime and at the final whistle.
Wenger wasn’t surprised by the reaction, but said his team was lacking in confidence.
“I don’t deny (City’s) quality, but we’re going through a difficult patch at the moment,” he said.
Arsenal wasted opportunities and the most clear-cut came in the 53rd. Aubameyang stepped up confidently at the penalty spot after fellow new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan was brought down in the area by Nicolas Otamendi. But City goalkeeper Ederson guessed correctly and easily dived down to catch the effort.
City’s traveling support taunted Wenger and Arsenal fans throughout the match, chanting “Arsene Wenger, we want you to stay,” and “There’s only one Arsene Wenger.”
When asked if it was the most difficult time of his career, Wenger said he was prepared to deal with the abuse, the criticism from fans, and questions about whether he should remain in charge.
“That’s part of my job, to deal with the situation I face,” he said. “I’m always ready for a fight. I’m disappointed but I’ve been in these situations before.”