London (AFP) – Manchester City ruined the start of the Unai Emery era at Arsenal as the champions signalled their intent to retain the Premier League title with a stylish 2-0 win on Sunday.
Pep Guardiola’s side swept to the title last term with a record 100 points and they were quickly back in the groove at the Emirates Stadium.
Raheem Sterling opened the scoring with a clinical finish early in the first half and Bernardo Silva’s thunderous strike capped a City success that served as a resounding warning to their title rivals.
No team has successfully defended the English title since Manchester United in 2008-09.
But on the evidence of this composed display, City have every chance of emulating their rivals’ achievement.
Picking up where they left off last term, City had too much class for Arsenal and easily repelled the hosts’ few dangerous moments.
City’s excellence underlined the size of the task facing new Arsenal boss Emery as the Gunners begin life without Arsene Wenger.
Arsenal were playing a competitive match without Wenger in charge for the first time since September 1996.
Emery was hired to replace Wenger following the Frenchman’s exit at the end of a dismal campaign which saw Arsenal labour to a sixth-place finish in the Premier League — 37 points behind City.
The Spaniard will need time to make his mark on a moribund club and, while Arsenal couldn’t be faulted for effort against City, there was precious little quality about their play.
Guardiola insists his players are still “starving” for success and there is little doubt City’s hunger for silverware remains strong.
The City boss started with Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane on the bench as he recalled Sterling and gave a Premier League debut to Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez, whose move from Leicester was Guardiola’s only major close-season signing.
– Sterling impresses –
Sterling proved to be City’s creative fulcrum, but he was fortunate to escape with a yellow card for a studs-up foul on Arsenal debutant Matteo Guendouzi in the early stages.
The England winger showed the more pleasing side of his game with an incisive burst past Shkodran Mustafi that took him into the Arsenal area and ended with Petr Cech saving his rising drive.
Having spent the dying embers of Wenger’s reign subjecting the Frenchman to vitriolic abuse, Arsenal’s fans were energised by the sight of Emery on the touchline.