MANCHESTER: Pep Guardiola ruled out signing a striker before next week’s transfer deadline after Manchester City rubbed salt into Arsenal wounds with a 5-0 thrashing yesterday to inflict the Gunners’ worst start to a league season since 1954. City’s week had been dominated by transfer speculation as Harry Kane confirmed he will be remaining at Tottenham this season with Spurs unwilling to sale the England captain. Cristiano Ronaldo was then rumored to be making a sensational move to the Etihad, but opted instead to return to Manchester United.
Yet, even without the injured Kevin De Bruyne and with Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez on the bench, City showed the wealth of attacking options on offer to Guardiola as Ferran Torres scored twice, while Ilkay Gundogan, Gabriel Jesus and Rodrigo were also on target. “I don’t think so,” said Guardiola when asked if he will add to his squad before the window closes on Tuesday. “The team made a magnificent last season and we are the same, plus Jack (Grealish).”
Arsenal have now lost their first three league games and are yet to even score a goal with the pressure rising on Arteta with his side rooted to the bottom of the table. Arteta left the comfort of working as Guardiola’s assistant for his first managerial job just under two years ago, but is increasingly in the firing line with the Gunners falling further behind the Premier League elite. “He is above and beyond a good manager,” said Guardiola in defense of his former colleague. “His personality, his leadership, we were sad when he left but sometimes people expect results immediately. I’m a big fan of him and I’m pretty sure if they trust him he is going to do a good job at Arsenal.”
Arteta has reportedly been given until the October international break, in just over a month, to revive Arsenal’s fortunes after spending over £130 million ($153 million) in the transfer window. “I am sorry we cannot give them (the fans) the results right now and we have to fix it,” said the Spaniard, who on top of facing Chelsea and City in Arsenal’s first three games has also had to cope with a series of positive cases of coronavirus at the club. “It’s been really tough the first three weeks with everything that has happened.”
Xhaka sees red again
His experimental selection of Sead Kolasinac, Rob Holding and Callum Chambers in a back three quickly backfired as the diminutive Gundogan outjumped Holding to head home the opener on seven minutes. More shambolic defending allowed Torres to tap home the second from Cedric Soares’s sliced clearance.
A massive mistake from Ederson nearly gave Arsenal a lifeline when his clearance was charged down by Emile Smith Rowe and rolled inches wide. But Granit Xhaka’s ill-discipline then left his side with no hope 10 minutes before half-time. The Switzerland skipper recently signed a new contract to end speculation over his future, but red cards have been a recurring feature of his six years in north London and his wild two-footed lung on Cancelo brought the 12th sending off in his club career.
“After we took the red card it was a completely different game but everyone has to look themselves in the mirror, stick together and move forward,” said Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. “We need to talk between us players. We are Arsenal and we need pride. We need to be honest with each other.” Against the 10 men, Grealish had the space to show why City spent £100 million on making him the most expensive player in Premier League history. The England playmaker’s trickery left Chambers and Holding on the floor before squaring for Jesus to tap into an empty net.
City enjoyed a glorified training session after the break as Arsenal could barely get a touch. Rodrigo’s inch-perfect curling finish from long range made it 4-0. Guardiola introduced Sterling and Mahrez for the final half hour and it was from Mahrez’s perfect cross that Torres headed in off the post six minutes from time. – AFP