This was the first match between the top two teams in the Premier League, and Arsenal fell short as City moved on in the FA Cup.
This was it, Arsenal vs. Manchester City, master vs. apprentice, the match so many had been waiting for. However, the first meeting between the top two teams in the Premier League was not, in fact, in the Premier League, but in the FA Cup. Thanks to some scheduling changes originating months ago with a Europa League game involving Arsenal, the two sides have still yet to meet in the Premier League so far this season. Don’t worry, that matchup is coming up soon, on February 15th if you must know.
As Arsenal couldn’t quite find an equalizer in this game, they went on to lose 1-0 to an Ake goal. It was an unusual goalscorer that made the difference in this game, and while it was a tale of two halves, here are 3 things we learned after the first meeting between Manchester City and Arsenal.
1.) Arsenal does need that backup midfielder
The price they pay for said backup midfielder, well, we can argue about that until the cows come home, but the dropoff between Thomas Partey and Albert Sambi Lokonga was clear for all to see. In the first half, Partey did his job; properly shielded the defense from any oncoming attacks, plugged gaps, and made it difficult for City to find space.
In the second half, Lokonga entered in the 46th minute and didn’t exactly impress. It was that same space that would have likely been occupied by Partey, that Julian Alvarez found where Manchester City’s goal originated from. Lokonga looked unsure of his positioning constantly, and Manchester City made sure to make Arsenal pay for it.
The Gunners do in fact, need that backup midfielder who can assure the dropoff between Partey and his replacement is less of a worry. It may seem harsh to harp on this issue given Lokonga has seen so little game time, but in a title race against a team like Manchester City, against a manager like Pep Guardiola, margins are so thin.
Just ask Jurgen Klopp, he can vouch for this very fact, and Arsenal won’t want to miss this chance to pounce on a Premier League title with Liverpool stumbling, and Chelsea so far behind the pack, you get the point. Arteta and co. will have other chances if their trajectory stays the same, but you do get the feeling that this year is as good a chance as ever to add another title to their club’s history.