London (AFP) – Manchester City piled more misery on beleaguered Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger with a 3-0 humbling of the Gunners on Thursday to open up a 16-point lead at the top of the Premier League.
Four days on from crumbling meekly to a 3-0 defeat as City won their first silverware of the Pep Guardiola era in the League Cup final, Arsenal disintegrated once more as the visitors scored three times in the opening 33 minutes in front of a sparse crowd at the Emirates.
Bernardo Silva, David Silva and Leroy Sane were on target to inflict a third straight defeat on Arsenal and leave them 10 points adrift of the Premier League top four in sixth place.
And a night to forget for Arsenal was complete when £56 million ($79 million) club record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw his second-half penalty saved by Ederson.
By contrast, City’s cruise towards the title continues unabated despite again not needing to hit the heights of their displays earlier in the campaign to up the pressure on Wenger’s position once more.
Sub-zero temperatures and the apathy caused by Arsenal’s display at Wembley on Sunday saw thousands of seats go unoccupied at the Emirates.
The lines around the pitch were painted blue ahead of kick-off in case an expected snow shower covered the field.
Unfortunately for the home fans that did brave the cold, that was the only novelty on a night of familiar failings from Wenger’s men, who have now lost seven times in 12 games this year.
Arsenal had even started the brighter as Ederson prevented Vincent Kompany turning into his own net before Henrikh Mkhitaryan stung the palms of the Brazilian goalkeeper with a drive from the edge of the box.
However, they never recovered from the sucker punch of City’s opener on 15 minutes as Sane weaved away from three Arsenal challenges on the left and teed up Bernardo Silva to cut inside onto his favoured left foot and curl into the top corner.
Ederson produced two more decent stops from Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey before City showed their more clinical touch in the final third just before the half hour mark.
Sane was again involved before Sergio Aguero played in David Silva to slot home at Petr Cech’s near post.
City then exhibited their speed on the counter-attack for a third five minutes later as Aguero, Kevin de Bruyne and Kyle Walker combined to set up Sane to tap home his 12th goal of the season.
The third goal was the cue for many of those Arsenal fans who did show up to leave, whilst the delighted travelling City fans taunted Wenger by pleading for the Frenchman to extend his 22-year reign in charge.
Aguero was looking for his 200th City goal and should have had it before half-time when his shot from De Bruyne’s cut-back was placed too close to Cech.
Arsenal’s anguish was rounded off seven minutes into the second period when Nicolas Otamendi chopped down Mkhitaryan inside the area.
Aubameyang took responsiblity from the spot, but the lack of conviction in his penalty reflected Arsenal’s performance as Ederson saved comfortably low to his left.
Aguero was made to wait for his double century in City colours by a wonderful save from Cech before the Argentine was handed a rest for the final eight minutes.
However, City’s wait for a fifth league title won’t last long with a maximum of just five more wins needed from their remaining 10 games.
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