Manchester City's Achilles heel surfaced again, as the home side seemed to need eight passes to get to goal and Arsenal just three. During a first half totally dominated by City's unobtrusive possession game, they found themselves trailing to the first meaningful attack Arsenal had put together. Pep Guardiola's side found the answer in a coruscating second half performance, however, which had echoes of the best show of the season against Barcelona in the Champions League.
Guardiola's mantra of pass, pass, pass is certainly being followed by his players and the possession stats were overwhelmingly in City's favour. Adding swiftly delivered long balls out of defence to the accustomed strong possession made all the difference in the second half.
Losing Ilkay Gundogan to injury meant a general sluggishness in deep midfield where Fernando was at first slow to react to the possibilities in front of him and Yaya Toure kept possession but turned in ever decreasing circles. Once the approach had been rearranged, it was immediately apparent that the mix of short and long passing was doing the trick.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Guardiola emerged with a side that either had no attackers or four, depending on how you looked at it. Passes through were initially too slow in arriving. In the second half this was remedied and City took the game by the scruff of the neck with a scintillating display that the visitors had no answer for.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Claudio Bravo, 7 -- The Chilean watched as his central defence opened up at the first opportunity to let Arsenal in for one-nil. Thereafter he was a complete spectator, apart from one strong right handed punch out from Mesut Ozil's free kick.
DF Pablo Zabaleta, 5 -- Still chugging up and down the pitch willingly but too slow to get to the breaks in time and too slow to get back to nullify the opposition's attacking. Was removed from the fray at half time.
DF Nicolas Otamendi, 7 -- The image of him airborne and horizontal as Alexis Sanchez shimmied past on the edge of the City box would have had the airwaves humming again, but he pulled himself together and took control of Arsenal's second half threats.
DF Aleksandar Kolarov, 7 -- Watched Sanchez and Walcott waltz through for the opener, but -- like his partner Otamendi -- gradually got on top of his job for the rest of the game.
DF Gael Clichy, 7 -- Non-descript on the left at first, with more to do defensively against Sanchez than in attack. Willing to join the attack in a fast-moving second half that saw him advanced on the left.
MF Yaya Toure, 8 -- Lots of tight little circles in midfield and two first half headers that could have brought goals, but looked slightly cumbersome against the fast moving Arsenal men. Booked for an arm-flailing tirade at Martin Atkinson over a disputed throw-in during a much more thrusting second half performance. A telling contribution.
MF Fernando, 8 -- Struggled to impose himself against Arsenal's nippy, nimble midfielders, but played an excellent holding role on Mesut Ozil in the second half, which allowed City's creative players to storm forward. Ozil, meanwhile, disappeared.
MF David Silva, 9 -- Passing and probing patiently but yellow carded for blocking Francis Coquelin after Leroy Sane had lost possession. Intuitive sense of where to pass in tight areas saw him grow into the game's best player as he ran midfield with Kevin De Bruyne and dug out a beautifully chipped ball for Leroy Sane to score.
MF Raheem Sterling, 9 -- City's most dangerous attacker, making good progress advancing between the lines during a fruitless first half. Ran at Gabriel Paulista with increasing confidence and capped a great display with a wonderful cut in from the right to shoot inside Petr Cech's near post with his left foot.
MF Kevin De Bruyne, 8 -- Sticking mainly to the left flank, produced a great ball a minute after Arsenal's opener, but Sterling headed fractionally wide. Was the catalyst for the second half onslaught with increased thrust and pace in his play. Sealed it nicely with a magnificent raking pass across to Sterling for the winner.
MF Leroy Sane, 7 -- Delivered two dangerous, low balls in during a first half that saw him slightly behind the game's pace, but his pirouette and shot to equalise, despite being a shade offside, was the boost he needed and he could have had another in a pleasing second half.
DF Bacary Sagna, 7 -- Replaced Pablo Zabaleta at half time and a made a big difference to the right flank. Dynamic and reliable going in both directions.
MF Jesus Navas, 6 -- Took Sane's place after 75 minutes and nearly brought a goal for De Bruyne within 10 seconds.
FW Kelechi Iheanacho, NR -- On for De Bruyne after 83 minutes and played his part in slowing down Arsenal's attempts to get out of their own half.