There was an article in the week about a potential middle east take-over of Arsenal.
And others saying to remedy the long malaise at the club, it needs new owners and a coach like Ralph Rangnick to clean out the ‘soft’ culture.
There is a short term and longer-term problem to face. In the short-term, can Arteta withstand the criticism and negativity and hang on to his job before the first, let alone second international break? Less likely than last week. But if he survives, he may have Partey and Gabriel back to stiffen the defence, but the games after the break against Norwich, Burnley and Spurs are hyper-critical.
It is fairly clear that the players don’t understand Arteta’s instructions. And he chops and changes a lot both within and between games. He certainly doesn’t have the experience to change a long-term culture. But talking short term, after 20 months, fans can reasonably ask: what is the progress and where is the direction?
It was the form in October/November which did for Arsenal last season. The danger is August/September form will do for this. There doesn’t seem a route to guard against inconsistency. But who would come in on Arteta’s recent purchases? Betting front runners Conte and Rodgers seem unlikely. Logic and practicality will probably see him given a chance to carry on.
Arsenal started at The Etihad with a back three – Kolasinac, Holding and Chambers, with Tierney and Soares as wing backs. Odergaard partnered Xhaka in midfield, with Smith Rowe, Saka and Aubameyang further forward
The billion-pound English Super League squad was missing De Bruyne, Foden and Mendy. They played the normal 4-3-3.
Arsenal started well with a chance for Saka in the first five minutes – but he was nudged by Cancelo, a small sly foul just within the laws of the game – not enough for a penalty.
Jesus chased a long ball and found Silva on the right of Arsenal’s area. His cross found Gundogan running in late to head into the net with Chambers in the wrong body position, missing his header with three Arsenal defenders static.
Arsenal automatically dropped off into a low block, like the Chelsea game. Gundogan found himself in space ghosting past three defenders to head goalward. Leno saved this one.
Arsenal were outnumbered in midfield three v two. They were not pressing.
From a City free kick into the area, Chambers was knocked in the face by Laporte and fell to the ground, expecting a foul. But it was cute fouling within the new interpretation of forceful conduct. Soares mis-kicked the ball to Torres who took advantage of the gap and slotted home. The feeling was Arteta’s tenure slipping by the minute.
Smith Rowe pressed Ederson and the rebound from a last-minute press ran just above the goal-line. Like the previous two Premiership games Arsenal weren’t getting the rub of the green.
Jesus play acted and got Kolasinac a yellow in a chase down the left, for an alleged high elbow.
Just when calm heads were needed, Xhaka then went in feet first out of control on Cancelo. Idiocy from a senior player. His fourth red card in an Arsenal shirt. He will miss the bottom of the table battles ahead. And his behaviour shines a spotlight on the recruitment policies.
Arsenal pressed but City undid it. Grealish toyed with Soares on the left side of the area and found Jesus with time and space and the Brazilian knocked it home.
Elneny replaced Saka for the second half.
Following a period of City passing, Soares was playing everyone onside, like the first Chelsea goal last week. Rodri drove in a curling shot past Leno.
The Spaniard kicked Tierney’s shin, needlessly and got a yellow, illustrating why these City fouls detract from their brand of football. Tierney’s ankle buckled a bit.
Holding did well shielding through balls with some important tackles and was Arsenal’s best performer. Leno made some good saves.
Towards the end, Mahrez sent an outswinger for the on-running Torres who headed in a fifth.
Guardiola said: “We found goals without deserving it. There were many things to improve. After the sending off the game was easier for us. In the past, Arteta went man for man. After 2-0 and with 10 men it is another game.”
“Arteta is above and beyond a good manager. Some expect results immediately. They have six, seven, eight injuries like White and Partey. All the managers need the depth of squad. If they trust him, they are going to do a good job at Arsenal.”
Aubameyang said: “It wasn’t enough. With eleven v eleven you have to take risks and be brave on the ball and we weren’t. Everyone has to raise the level and look in the mirror. We have to play with courage. Have to take risks. We didn’t do enough today.
“We have to talk among the players. It is important. We are Arsenal. We have to say the truth and be honest with each other.
“It is going to be difficult. We have to stick together in this moment As senior players we have to show the way.”
Mikel Arteta said: “It was painful. A lot of things happened. The first situation we defended a run into box poorly. On the second, there was a punch on Calum’s face. After the red card we had a mountain to climb.
On Xhaka’s sending off: “I’m angry because of consequences. I am disappointed with the way they allowed the second goal.”
Asked about Aubameyang’s comment saying it was a lack of courage and commitment. “If that’s how he feels he is right.”
“When you lose a game, it is impossible. We had 3000 fans – the support was unconditional. We need to face the challenge.”
Man City 5 Arsenal 0
Man City: 31Ederson, 2Walker (Substituted for Zinchenko at 45’minutes), 3Rúben Dias, 14Laporte, 27Cancelo, 20Bernardo Silva (Substituted for Sterling at 58’minutes), 16Rodri (Booked at 67mins), 8Gündogan, 9Gabriel Jesus (Substituted for Mahrez at 61’minutes), 21Torres, 10Grealish
Arsenal: 1Leno, 17Cédric Soares (Booked at 24mins), 21Chambers, 16Holding, 31Kolasinac (Booked at 28mins), 3Tierney, 7Saka (Substituted for Elneny at 45’minutes), 8Ødegaard (Substituted for Maitland-Niles at 71’minutes), 34Xhaka (Booked at 35mins), 10Smith Rowe, 14Aubameyang (Substituted for Lacazette at 59’minutes)