A first-half Raheem Sterling goal proved decisive as Man City cruised to a 1-0 victory over a spirited but blunt Arsenal at The Etihad.
Both sides laid their intentions bare in the opening minutes as the template for the game was set.
Man City pushed high up the pitch, testing Arsenal’s defenders’ technique and powers of concentration.
For the most part, the early test was passed, though few clear cut chances at the other end were created during their rare forays up the pitch.
The returning Sergio Aguero soon found himself in the action, but his headed effort showed signs of rustiness after failing to draw a save from Bernd Leno.
It took until the 23rd minute for the game’s first goal scoring opportunity to materialise.
Neat work from Riyad Mahrez picked out Aguero with rare space in front, with the Argentine then feeding Phil Foden down the left.
His shot was saved by Leno, but the resulting rebound was coolly tucked home by Raheem Sterling to break the deadlock.
🎙 – "Absent for England but very present for Manchester City!" 🎁
Raheem Sterling opens the scoring for #MCFC against Arsenal! 🔵
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 17, 2020
That seemed to wake Arsenal up, who within a minute forced a smart stop from Ederson from the boot of Bukayo Saka.
The resulting corner broke down, but eventually fell to Willian who delivered an inch-perfect cross that Nicolas Pepe could’ve and probably should’ve done better with.
Arsenal almost gifted City a second after the half hour mark when Gabriel’s attempts to play out from the back quickly broke down.
A swift one touch passing move freed Foden, but the youngster’s shot was smothered by the hastily onrushing Leno.
As the half drew to a close Saka ghosted in behind the City backline and came close to levelling the scores.
His right-footed strike deflected off Ederson’s shoulder narrowly wide, though replays suggested an offside ruling may have been made had the goal gone in.
Right on the stroke of half-time Arsenal saw a penalty appeal waved away after Kyle Walker’s high boot while attempting to clear a corner was deemed unworthy of a foul.
The second half saw little in the way of goal mouth action for lengthy periods.
David Luiz saw a knuckleball free-kick drift aimlessly over the bar, while City seemed to lack the same attacking intensity they had shown in the first half.
City saw their own appeals for a penalty waved away when Gabriel curiously blocked off Bernardo Silva to allow Leno more time on the ball.
The Brazilian defender lurched out of his natural path to block the Portuguese playmaker, but neither the referee nor VAR took action.
Arsenal’s best opportunities continued to come from set pieces, though once again their radar was off as Nicolas Pepe’s curling effort whizzed a yard past the post.
Thomas Partey was brought on for his debut late, but neither he nor his teammates could find the killer pass as Man City cruised to a 1-0 victory.