Aguero nets hat-trick against Arsenal as City close the gap on Liverpool


Sergio Aguero scored a hat-trick as Manchester City beat Arsenal 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium as Pep Guardiola’s side close the gap on league leaders Liverpool to two points.

City shot off out of the blocks and grabbed the lead inside a minute.

Matteo Guendouzi and Alex Iwobi took too much on the ball on the edge of their own penalty box and failed to clear their lines. Aymeric Laporte nicked the ball off Iwobi and whipped a pinpoint low cross for Sergio Aguero to nod the ball home from close range. Far from the start Unai Emery will have wanted after 48 seconds away to the Champions.

Guardiola made three changes from his sides  2-1 defeat at the hands of Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Tuesday night.  Danilo, John Stones and Leroy Sane were replaced by Nicolas Otamendi, Illkay Gundogan and David Silva.

Emery made two changes to his Arsenal team from their 2-1 win at home over Cardiff City. Mohammad Elneny and Mesut Ozil dropped out with Laurent Koscielny and Iwobi coming in.

City fans will have been shocked, whilst fantasy football players will have been frustrated with the announcement of the City starting eleven as Guardiola chose to start both Silva’s for the game, meaning Leroy Sane had to take a place on the bench.

Guardiola chose to drop Fernandinho into the heart of the defence as John Stones had to settle for a place on the substitutes bench. The former Barcelona boss commented recently stating that Fernandinho is a “incredible player” and “he is so important like Kevin [De Bruyne] is.”  It is therefore intriguing that the City manager chose to play the Brazilian out of position.

City’s high tempo continued and Arsenal looked like shaky after falling behind so early. The hosts had an early penalty shout as Shkodran Mustafi appeared to hold back Aguero. Referee Martin Atkinson waved away the appeal.

City had the ball in the back of the net again before the ten minute mark but it was correctly ruled out for offside. A De Bruyne free kick was whipped into the box for Laporte to knock home before the celebrations were cut short by the linesman’s flag.

Moments later the visitors levelled to stun City. Lucas Torreira sent in a corner to the front post where Nacho Monreal won the flick on, the flick on fell perfectly to captain Koscielny, who escaped from his man Raheem Sterling and headed the ball past Ederson from two yards out.

The goal spurred the Gunners on as they looked to dent City’s title challenge and strengthen their fourth place credentials. Alexandre Lacazette picked up the ball just over the half way line and played a cutting through ball between the City central defenders for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to run onto. The Gabon striker couldn’t capitalise and Ederson was quick off the mark and met the ball at the edge of the box to punt the ball upfield.

City retook the lead five minutes from half time. A fine one-touch move from the Citizens ended with an elegant dink of the ball from Gundogan over the top of the Arsenal defence to Raheem Sterling, who squared the ball across the goal for Aguero to tap into the net.

City started the second half similarly to how they started the first. Their  possession and quick one touch football left Arsenal chasing shadows and forced them deeper into their own half.

The champions scored a third in the 61st minute. Once again it was a slick, one-touch move that led to Sterling breaking into the Arsenal box down the left. The Englishman squared the ball across the goal for Aguero to slide and scramble the ball over the line. The Argentinians third goal of the game resulting in his tenth hat-trick for City.

Arsenal offered little barring one effort from Kolasinac on the hour mark, a moment which reminded City they must keep their focus.

The 29 remaining minutes after City’s third goal were somewhat predictable. City kept the ball and continued probing at the Arsenal defence. The Gunners looked leggy at the back and struggled to get the ball out wide or to their front men, two of the best strikers in the league who had little to feed on throughout the 90 minutes.

City got back to winning ways and now breathe down Liverpool’s neck as they sit two points behind the leaders. Liverpool have a chance to reopen the five point gap when they travel to London to clash with former City manager Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United.

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Fernandinho, Gundogan, D Silva, De Bruyne (Mahrez), B Silva, Sterling, Aguero (Jesus 81)

Unused substitutes: Danilo, Stones, Delph, Sane, Muric

Arsenal: Leno, Lichsteiner, Kolasinac (Suarez 67), Mustafi (Mavropanos), Koscielny, Monreal, Torreira, Guendouzi, Iwobi (Ramsey 67), Aubameyang, Lacazette

Unused substitutes: Cech, Elneny, Ozil, Nketiah


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