Manchester City really had to win today against Arsenal and did so in dominant fashion after turning it up in the second half after a mixed opening 45 minutes.
Sergio Aguero again struck in the first minute, but when Laurent Koscielny equalised, it began to feel like Newcastle all over again, especially as City’s tempo dropped alarmingly after that.
Aguero scored again on the stroke of half-time, just when City had seemed out of ideas, before Pep’s men dominated the second half with Kun completing his hat-trick.
The gap is now just two points ahead of Liverpool’s Monday night trip to West Ham, where former City boss Manuel Pellegrini could do us a favour!
Here’s how we rated the team on a freezing afternoon at the Etihad.
Ederson – 7
Largely untroubled throughout the match, Ederson could do nothing about Koscielny’s goal. His one big event was crucial though, as he anticipated an Arsenal attack perfectly, rushing out to prevent what would have been a one-on-one situation and almost certain 2-1 lead for the Gunners.
Kyle Walker – 7
Walker received some slack on social media again, but we thought he was good today. A couple of uncertain moments sure, but he made up for them with some crucial tackles when Arsenal got forward. An encouraging performance.
Nicolas Otamendi – 6.5
Not Nico’s best performance and he made a couple of bad decisions, as he’s always been prone too, but he was generally solid after an awkward first half.
Aymeric Laporte – 7.5
Laporte returned to left-back today after doing a fine job there against Liverpool, and again he performed really well. Not only was his defending good against Iwobi, but he registered an assist for Aguero’s opener.
Fernandinho – 7.5
Starting in the less familiar role of centre-back today, Fernandinho was Fernandinho. Solid, tenacious and dependable. Physically, he continues to play more like a 23-year-old than 33-year-old, but with the maturity and experience only age can bring.
Ilkay Gundogan – 8
A superb performance by the German today with his passing of a very high standard. Once again it was one of his chipped balls into the box that help unlock a defence as he found Sterling to cross to Aguero for City’s second. Gundogan’s off days are noticeable, but this was one of his very good days.
David Silva – 7
Disappointing for much of the first half, then we saw more of the David Silva we all know and love, with intelligent passing. His new hairline makes him look younger and can hopefully prolong his City career!
Bernardo Silva – 7.5
Another enjoyable performance by the hard-working playmaker. He was a menace down the right flank, linking up particularly well with De Bruyne in the first half, but his tenacious work rate also helped City stay in control of the game.
Kevin De Bruyne – 7.5
Some of Kevin’s passing was top notch today, and while he’s still not quite there, you can see the pre-injuries KDB starting to return. He still looks a little leggy and committed more fouls than any other City player today, but it was a tireless performance and when he was subbed, he was clearly spent. We’d be surprised if he starts against Everton after that shift.
Raheem Sterling – 8
An interesting performance by Sterling. If you look at it beyond a certain point, it was almost 10/10 level, as he completely tore Arsenal apart at times. However, he was pretty poor early on in terms of his final delivery and decision making. Then it all clicked into place for him and he created Aguero’s second and third goals. He also worked hard defensively. So all in all, a fantastic display by Raz, just slightly marred by his early struggles.
Sergio Aguero – 9 (Man of the Match)
There could only be one Man of the Match today and that was hat-trick hero Kun Aguero, who once again struck in the opening minute before adding a second on the stroke of half-time and a contentious third goal, which he admitted may have been handball, in the second half. Besides the goals, which were not his most difficult finishes, he was a nuisance for the Arsenal defence, at one point bullying Koscielny and winning a free kick close to the Arsenal box. Against Newcastle, Sergio scored early then was poor. Today, he scored early and then put in a terrific performance. Grande Kun!
Gabriel Jesus – N/A
A late replacement for Aguero and he found himself in a great position towards the end of a counter attack, but chose to shoot when Sterling was free to his right.
Riyad Mahrez – N/A
Came on very late for the exhausted De Bruyne and did manage a shot in his few minutes on the pitch.