To say this is a familiar feeling for Arsenal fans would be an understatement, to say the least.
An away day at a top-six club ending with questions, frustration and ultimately disappointment is becoming more than an annual event for the Gunners faithful.
This time they faced Manchester City; a team who have now scored a record 52 goals after just 17 games in all competitions.
Based on this – and when remembering Arsenal’s previous falters away to top sides – very few gave the Gunners hope on Sunday afternoon.
But this did not make the result any easier to take for Arsenal fans; particularly considering the clear omissions from the starting line-up, the way the side played throughout the game and, most crucially, how evident the gulf in class between the two sides was.
Ultimately, this result now puts Arsenal 12 points off the leaders at such an early stage; a battle you just can’t see them winning if performances like this continue to occur.
Petr Cech – 6/10
There is no question about it, Arsenal’s goalkeeper could have done a lot better in dealing with Kevin De Bruyne’s shot on goal that resulted in City’s first. As Graeme Souness summed up in commentary: “Cech has been one of the Premier League’s greatest goalkeepers. I think he’s just a good goalkeeper now. Great goalkeepers deal with those.” Possibly a little harsh until you consider the following statistic; Cech is yet to save a penalty for Arsenal – 13 faced, 13 conceded. Credit though must be given to his terrific goal-line save from Gabriel Jesus at 2-1.
Laurent Koscielny – 5/10
The Frenchman looked lost and confused in the strange system which saw his compatriot Coquelin as part of the back three. The captain was also at fault for not playing to the whistle when an offside David Silva found an unmarked Jesus for City’s third. On a day when Arsenal needed leaders to fight any sort of comeback, Koscielny fell anonymous for the most part – his only real moment was a block from an Aguero shot during the first half.
Francis Coquelin – 6/10
Now, this may surprise a few but Francis Coquelin, bearing in mind he was being played out of position, had an ok performance on Sunday. Naturally the classic Coquelin traits were there; giving away possession with poor decision making, lunging into challenges left right and centre. However, the Frenchman helped to diffuse many City counter attacks, particularly at 1-0 and 2-1. I wouldn’t go as far as saying he had a good game, but to say he surprised me with his performance would be a good summary.
Nacho Monreal – 5/10
The Spaniard has just been voted the PFA Player of the Month for October, but we saw none of these award-winning exploits yesterday at City. Despite Wenger’s complaints towards the English winger, Raheem Sterling played Monreal perfectly in winning Manchester City a penalty. The Arsenal full-back was culpable many times for losing his winger – whether that was Sane or Sterling – as City countered.
Hector Bellerin – 6/10
Bellerin has not been the same player for weeks; his pace both in attacking and defending scenarios has not been used as effectively this season and his crossing ability remains a weakness. However, there were moments when the Spaniard causes City some issues, giving Fabian Delph a torrid time during the first half down the right flank.
Sead Kolasinac – 6/10
His work rate is unquestionable and the Bosnian used his physicality to win back possession on several occasions. Attacking wise he coped, but at times defensively he was run ragged by the likes of David Silva and Leroy Sane. But once again, overall, a promising performance for Arsenal’s new man who is still adapting to the league.
Aaron Ramsey – 7/10
Arguably Arsenal’s greatest attacking output from central midfield; the Welshman had a great effort to level the scores saved by Edison just before the break. Ramsey is a completely different player to that of last season thanks to his new role giving a greater amount of freedom in terms of attacking play; as illustrated by his assist for Lacazette’s goal with 20 minutes to go.
Granit Xhaka – 5/10
Of course the classic Granit Xhaka traits were there; the overly elaborate switch balls, the clumsy challenges etc. The Swiss struggled to contain City’s counter attacks during the game and was one of the main men culpable for City’s third (which he tried to mask by screaming down both the referee and the linesman in protest before getting substituted).
Mesut Ozil – 5/10
Starting promisingly however lost his way as the game went on, struggling to deal with City’s pressing game. Will get unfair criticism stating he failed to perform in another big game. However, Arsenal’s lack of possession in large parts made this affair a difficult one for Ozil. That aside, however, big players adapt in big games to make things work – something Mesut failed to do so on Sunday.
Alex Iwobi – 6/10
The Arsenal youngster was thrown in at the deep end by Wenger in a game where he was expected to live up to the expectations having replaced Lacazette on the team sheet. The Nigerian of course did not perform up to those levels, but did surprise a few with some quick flicks and clever turns. Personally I felt he was taken off too early by Wenger but Giroud had to come on for someone.
Alexis Sanchez – 4/10
In big games Alexis Sanchez normally gets off lightly within the media purely down to his work ethic and the occasional touches of brilliance. Whilst these two features remained at times, the Chilean put in a strong claim to what could be one of his worst performances in an Arsenal shirt. In a game where possession was so precious to the Gunners, Sanchez continuously gave the ball away (he gave the ball away 15 times in the first half alone). In what was described as his audition for the home side, Guardiola wouldn’t have been blamed for an early curtain call.
SUB 1 – Alexandre Lacazette – 7/10
Will have felt hard done by being dropped by Wenger considering it was Arsenal’s biggest game of the season so far, but showed the manager exactly what the team was missing within minutes of coming on. The Frenchman came very close to setting up a goal before coolly slotting through the legs of Edison to give Arsenal hope.
SUB 2 – Olivier Giroud – 5/10
Came on too late in the game to make an impact, however, produced a few clever flicks as Arsenal tried to break down City’s stubborn defence.
SUB 3 – Jack Wilshere – 5/10
Another substitution that came on too late, however, you could see the fight he had in him from that short space of time. Wenger does not stop hyping the Englishman up but still refuses to give him any solid chance in big games, why?
Arsene Wenger – 4/10
Attempted a risky tactic putting in Coquelin at centre-back and dropping Lacazette which only partly worked. The substitutes were made too late again and his comments following the game are likely to result in another touchline ban. The Frenchman is slowly losing the faith of the Gunners faithful with every big defeat, something that must sadden many football fans.