IT was an unhappy return to football for Arsenal as they meekly fell to a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City. The loss was one negative, with the sending off of substitute David Luiz another.
The floppy-haired defender replaced Pablo Mari who came off injured, but was heading to the changing room himself in the second half. He tugged back Riyad Mahrez in the penalty area, then Kevin De Bruyne stepped up to send Bernd Leno the other way.
That made it 2-0, with Raheem Sterling scoring the other in the first half. Here, Sun Sport’s Martin Lipton rates Arsenal’s players’ performances in their first game back in Project Restart.
Bernd Leno – 8/10
Smart saves to deny De Bruyne, Sterling and Silva and the German’s agility kept his young team focussed on their defensive task before Luiz let him and the Gunners down.
Hector Bellerin – 7
Rarely showed his attacking instincts as he was wary of getting the wrong side of Sterling.
Spaniard is so much better when he lets his brakes go.
Shkodran Mustafi – 7
Must have been delighted to see Aguero not in the starting line-up.
Jesus did not carry the same threat at all. Then came Luiz and it all fell apart.
Pablo Mari – 6
Horrific early wipe-out of Sterling and failed to reach the first drinks break after twanging a muscle when he was outpaced by Walker.
Kieran Tierney – 7
Rare sighting of the injury-plagued Scot but settled in securely and well.
Doubts remain over his long-term future at the club but this display must have helped his cause.
Granit Xhaka – 5
Lasted barely five minutes before crocked by clash with Guendouzi.
Hardly what the Swiss midfielder was hoping for after the long lay-off.
Matteo Guendouzi – 7
Started by inadvertently playing role in Xhaka injury but was part of a composed and organised unit that stifled City with relative ease.
Eddie Nketiah – 6
Spared by the flag for a miss in the first minute but lively in possession and full of pace and penetration Needed to show for the ball more.
Joe Willock – 5
Youngster has a bright future but more employed off the ball than on it.
Hard to argue he offers more than the unwanted Ozil at this stage in his career.
Bukayo Saka – 5
Not much of an impact and caught offside a little ineptly.
Might have been better deployed on the other flank, allowing Aubameyang to move inside.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 6
Skipper ran the left channel rather than the central role expected.
Selfless but surely it took away Arsenal’s biggest goal threat.
And will not have made him feel any happier.
Subs: Dani Ceballos (for Xhaka, 8mins) – 6
Great opportunity to make his mark when sent on so early but struggled to make much of an attacking impact, although worked back hard to fill in holes.
David Luiz (for Mari 24mins) – 3
The definition of self-inflicted chaos. Once he came on Arsenal fell apart and the Brazilian was doubly culpable. Red card might be his final act in a Gunners shirt. Many will hope so.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles (for Guendouzi 67) – 5
Got a run-out in his preferred central midfield role but far too late for it to matter and hardly in the right circumstances with Arsenal chasing shadows.
Reiss Nelson (for Willock 67) – 5
Will be looking to show Arteta what he has to offer in the rest of the season. He wants to make it at the Emirates and will get his opportunities.
Alexandre Lacazette (for Nketiah 67) – 5
Too good to settle for life on the bench and probably would have wanted a central run as well rather than taking over from Aubameyang on the graveyard shift out wide.
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