A Kevin de Bruyne masterclass saw Arsenal’s long wait for a home league win continue as Manchester City cruised to a 3-0 win at the Emirates on Sunday.
The Belgian scored twice and made the other for Raheem Sterling as City returned to winning way in the Premier League following last week’s Manchester derby defeat, and moved within two points of second-placed Leicester.
Arsenal meanwhile, are without a win in their last five home league games, a run that stretches back to early October, with Monday’s triumph at West Ham now their only success in 14 matches in all competitions.
Having rotated for the Europa League draw against Standard Liege on Thursday, Freddie Ljungberg returned to the bulk of the side that earned the first win of his reign – against West Ham on Monday – with starts for Sead Kolasinac and Matteo Guendouzi in favour of the injured Kieran Tierney and Granit Xhaka the only changes.
Pep Guardiola handed a rare start to teenager Phil Foden, with Gabriel Jesus continuing to lead the line off the back of a midweek Champions League hat-trick.
The Gunners actually went close to opening the scoring inside a minute when Gabriel Martinelli forced Ederson into a decent near-post block, but there were just 90 seconds on the clock when De Bruyne made his first standout contribution, finding the roof of the net with an emphatic first-time finish from Gabriel Jesus’ cutback.
The lead was doubled on 15 minutes by a flowing City move that began with some excellent work under pressure by Rodri, to evade the Arsenal press.
Eventually, the ball was worked to De Bruyne, who took advantage of Calum Chambers backing off to drive across the face of goal, where Sterling was waiting to tuck home.
Arsenal’s full-back injury crisis worsened when Sead Kolasinac hobbled off with an ankle injury, and before makeshift replacement Bukayo Saka had made it onto the field his side were three down, De Bruyne this time waltzing through the middle of the park and finding the far corner on his supposed weak foot.
He would have had a hat-trick before half-time had it not been for a magnificent Bernd Leno save, the German tipping a 25-yard curler onto the woodwork, while Jesus might have made it four when skewing over the bar shortly after the restart.
Mesut Ozil showed his frustration at the smattering of boos that greeted his laboured departure from the field when replaced by Emile Smith-Rowe on the hour mark, angrily kicking away his gloves, but in general the remainder was played out in a subdued atmosphere, as City took their foot off the gas.
With trips to Everton and Bournemouth to come either side of Christmas, Arsenal do not play at the Emirates again until their final game of 2019, when they face Chelsea, before heralding the New Year by hosting Manchester United three days later. If their barren home run is to end anytime soon, they will have to do it the hard way.