Arsenal 1-2 Manchester City: Main discussion points when Pep Guardiola’s men open 2022 with a thriller

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In what was the first Premier League competition in 2022, Arsenal and Manchester City certainly did not disappoint in what turned out to be a real thriller at the Emirates’ Saturday lunchtime.

While the Gunners may have taken a more-than-deserved 1-0 lead en route to the break, it was Pep Guardiola’s defending champions who eventually snatched a 2-1 win in the final gasp in north London.

By briefly extending their buffer at the top of the table to double figures, the Sky Blues will undoubtedly look back on Saturday’s result if they are able to make it back-to-back Premier League titles this season.

In a meeting that experienced great controversy at both ends of the Emirates track, we have taken a look at the key discussion points.

City show all their determination

Looking at both Liverpool and Chelsea losing points earlier in the week, there is no doubt Manchester City would have taken the trip to north London on Saturday to put another marker.

But with Phil Foden forced to miss the game and Jack Grealish having to settle for a spot on the bench, the Sky Blues really failed to get out of second gear throughout the first half.

Knowing they were lucky not to have chased a major deficit when they returned from the break, Guardiola will be hugely proud of the character his side showed in the second half.

Watching as Riyad Mahrez converted from the spot after Bernardo Silva was controversially brought down by Granit Xhaka seven minutes after the break, City will find the mood in their camp at a red-hot height as they are just about to drag themselves across the finish line.

By sending Saturday’s travel support into overdrive as Rodri managed to poke the ball past Aaron Ramsdale in the third minute of offense, Guardiola’s team was able to score both of their goals with their only two shots on goal in north London.

Although there will be questions about VAR and challenges at both ends of the pitch, City do not care as they extend their Premier League winning streak to 11 matches on spin.

Huge positive things in the defeat to Arsenal

As the majority of Arsenal’s team falls to their knees at the full-time whistle, Saturday’s final gasp defeat will be a really bitter pill for the Gunners to swallow.

With a hugely impressive performance in the first half, where they totally dominated the defending champions, fans around north London will be scratching their heads over how they did not at least get a point.

With head coach Mikel Arteta having to follow from home after returning a positive COVID-19 test earlier this week, New Year’s hosts will no doubt point the finger at a controversial decision by Stuart Attwell.

Not awarded their own penalty kick in the first half, when Martin Odegaard was beaten down by Ederson in what looked like a clumsy challenge, Arsenal’s frustrations really reached a boiling point as VAR gave City a route back into the match.

When Attwell finally decided that Xhaka had dragged Silva to the ground minutes after the break, things were not made easier for the Gunners as defender Gabriel was shown a couple of bookings from two annoying errors.

But as Gabriel Martinelli misses a glorious chance seconds before Gabriel’s second yellow card, Arteta will be desperate to take the positive from Saturday’s show.

Can anyone stop Sky Blues?

Not hampered by Bukayo Saka’s opening in the half hour, the question will now be asked as to who can prevent Manchester City from regaining their Premier League crown this season?

Watching Liverpool and Chelsea lose points earlier this week, Sky Blues’ last gasp winner on Saturday means they extended their top-flight winning streak to 11 matchups on the jump.

With Liverpool ready to take the trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon, Guardiola will know how important it was for his team to collect maximum points on New Year’s Day.

To at least briefly expand their buffer at the top of the table to 11 points, the former Bayern Munich boss will now urge his side to keep their momentum up in 2022.

With a fourteen-day break from the top tasks with an FA Cup meeting against League One team Swindon next weekend, City will be next seen in the Premier League when they welcome Chelsea to the Etihad on 15 January.

Match report:

Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, Gabriel, White, Tierney, Partey, Xhaka, Odegaard, Martinelli, Saka, Lazacezte

Subs: Elneny, Holding, Smith-Rowe

Manchester By: Ederson, Cancelo, Dias, Laporte, Ake, Rodri, Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling, Mahrez, Jesus

Subs: Gundogan

Goal: Arsenal: Saka 31 ′ – Manchester City: Mahrez (pen) 57 ′, Rodri 93 ′

Yellow card: Arsenal: Gabriel, Saka, Xhaka, Holding – Manchester City: Rodri, Silva

Red cards: Gabriel

Judging: Stuart attewell

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