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City still not Luiz-ers! - Brazilian has a nightmare as Pep's men make sure title won't be won on Sunday

Man City 3 Arsenal 0

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FIRST OF THE YEAR: Raheem Sterling celebrates his first goal of 2020. Photo: PA

FIRST OF THE YEAR: Raheem Sterling celebrates his first goal of 2020. Photo: PA

PA

FIRST OF THE YEAR: Raheem Sterling celebrates his first goal of 2020. Photo: PA

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola questioned whether his side was ready for the Premier League restart, but they proved him wrong with a convincing win over Arsenal last night.

A goal on the stroke of half-time from Raheem Sterling, a second-half penalty from Kevin De Bruyne and a clincher from Phil Foden secured City a comfortable victory at an eerily silent Etihad Stadium, with the absence of fans felt only by the 300 or so present inside the sparsely populated arena.

For the millions of fans watching around the world on television, this felt like the return of the Premier League in all its glory, with the fake crowd noise proving to be a big hit on Sky Sports and the usual line-up of analysts giving those at home the comfort of believing the most popular football competition in world football was back.

Peel

Yet peel below the surface and this was the Premier League rebranded, with everyone other than the players and those in broadcasting roles wearing masks and medical staff bedecked in white suits as a precaution amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Guardiola lost his own mother to the virus a few weeks ago, but the City boss showed no lack of passion as he bounded around the touchline with his familiar enthusiasm as he marshalled his team to victory.

This win ensured that Liverpool will not be able to wrap up the Premier League title when they take on Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday, yet the bigger picture had to be a successful reboot of a brand that has seen some of its value decreased in recent weeks.

City may have surrendered hopes of retaining their English title long ago, but this was an encouraging return to action for Guardiola's side, who will have their eyes on completing a cup treble in the coming weeks as they target Champions League and FA Cup glory.

The fluidity associated with Guardiola's pass masters may only have been seen in fleeting bursts, but they had more than enough to pick Arsenal apart and the only surprise was that they took until the stroke of half-time to take the lead.

Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno was busy in the opening half as City knocked on their door, with injuries a factor in the opening exchanges on a night when five substitutes were available to both managers.

Twisting

Granit Xhaka went off on a stretcher twisting his ankle, with Pablo Mari the next Arsenal player to be struck down with injury as he was replaced by David Luiz.

That arrival proved to be crucial to the opening goal of the game, as the accident-prone Brazilian made a mistake that allowed Sterling to blast home his 22nd goal in this elongated season.

Luiz's miserable night went from bad to worse as he was sent off for hauling down Riyad Mahrez in the box five minutes after the restart, with De Bruyne making no mistake from the penalty spot with a clinical delivery, sending Leno the wrong way

With Arsenal down to ten men, the German keeper was kept busy in the Arsenal goal as he pulled off a string of fine saves before he was unfortunate to be beaten again in the closing stages after initially pushing Sergio Aguero's shot onto the post before Foden polished off the City win.

delay

A late injury to defender Eric Garcia, taken out by his own keeper, Ederson, marred City's night, with a long delay before the Spanish teenager was carried off on a stretcher ensuring this comeback game had a later than expected finish.

Yet that setback aside, this was a job well done for the outgoing Premier League champions, who will now look forward to a date with Burnley next Monday.