Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva scored in each half as Manchester City handed new Arsenal head coach Unai Emery a 2-0 defeat on his Premier League debut.
Petr Cech kept Arsenal in it in the first half with a brilliant double save from Riyad Mahrez’s free-kick and Aymeric Laporte’s follow-up.
Raheem Sterling scored the opening goal, a fizzing drive into the corner after he scampered infield to shoot from a central position just outside the box.
And Bernardo Silva made the points safe with a brilliant first-time finish.
Riyad Mahrez was inches away from scoring and Petr Cech was forced into a fine double save to deny the new City signing from a free-kick and the follow-up from Aymeric Laporte.
But, despite a few scares, we stayed in the game. And, with our pressing tactics to the fore, we carved out a few opportunities of our own.
Hector Bellerin’s excellent first touch set up a shot that Ederson pushed away, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fired just wide.
Substitute Alex Lacazette made a difference in the second half, and went close within moments of coming on.
But Cech was still busy and had to be at his best to deny Sergio Aguero when he raced through on goal.
That goal took the wind out of our sails and, although we continued to push forward, City kept us at arm’s length for the rest of the game.
There are certainly positives to take from this display, but for now we remain a work in progress.
Manchester City – as everyone knows – are the finished article.
And on the evidence of what we saw at the Emirates Stadium in our opening game of the new campaign, the players are ready to deliver.
Manchester City started brightly and deservedly went ahead when Sterling brilliantly skipped past two Arsenal challenges on the edge of the box before unleashing a right-footed effort from 20 yards that flew past Cech.
Given the truncated preseason he’s had after heavy World Cup involvement, his energy and enthusiasm were impressive. What a start to his and City’s season.
Riyad Mahrez took the resulting free-kick and forced a save from Cech low down to his right, before the Arsenal stopper reacted quickly to deny Aymeric Laporte’s close-range follow up with an instinctive stop.
Mahrez was inches away from opening his account three minutes before half time when he curled a left-footed effort just past Cech’s far post as Manchester City continued to dominate, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s effort almost brought Arsenal level moments later but his long-distance strike sailed just wide.
Seconds later, City had scored again, Bernardo producing a spectacular first-time left-footed finish that flew into the top corner in emphatic fashion.
That Arsenal’s performance was somewhat disjointed shouldn’t detract from City’s display. This was where we left off last season: electric going forward, but capable of slowing the game down and dominating the ball when necessary. This is a side full of talent, but also one with outstanding tactical acumen and game-management abilities.
There’s plenty more to come, but this was a pleasing start.
Man of the Match: Bernardo Silva – Manchester City
In truth, there were several candidates – but Bernardo once again produced a high-octane performance that dazzled.
His goal was topped off a superb performance.
Manchester City ready to buck the trend?
Indeed, the reigning champions have ended the following season outside the top four in each of the last three years.
But on the evidence of this game, City look ready to break that trend. Far from showing the kind of complacency that has affected recent title defences, City look more focused and sharper than before.
The hosts will improve as Unai Emery gradually imprints his style but take nothing away from City. This was a sensational victory.
Manchester City’s defense says it all
Stones and Laporte are two centre-halves committed to bringing the ball out of defence and looking to play passes between the lines, and behind them they have a goalkeeper who could easily play outfield if necessary.
Guardiola, schooled by Johan Cruyff, craves winning in style. His back four and goalkeeper tell you everything you need to know about his philosophy.
On the performance
“We saw him do well in the training session. He did it well, except the last 20 minutes when he was really tired. We trained one or two weeks, a short time. But the spirit is there and that is the most important thing.
“He made some good moves in the World Cup, the way he created spaces for others.”
City host Huddersfield next Sunday in this season’s first game at the Etihad, with kick-off at 1.30pm.