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Arsenal 1 - Manchester City 3 match report: not bad, actually

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Don’t let the 3-1 scoreline deceive you. Arsenal played pretty well today.

Manchester City v Arsenal FC - Premier League
We appreciate you too, Laca.
Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

I’m choosing to be positive. With the defensive injury crisis and City’s desperation for a result, I was expecting Arsenal to get waxed today. The Gunners, for the most part, put in a good shift. City’s third goal easily could have been called back for handball. In fact, after the match, Sergio Aguero acknowledged that it was a handball.

Yes, Arsenal hadn’t managed anything in the second half before Aguero’s third, but the two-goal difference really took the sting out of the match. I think if Arsenal hadn’t been two behind, they might have had one final push in them in the closing 10-15 minutes.

But that’s not how it played out, and the bottom line is no shots in the second half is disappointing. It’s unacceptable, really. Also unacceptable was the defensive performance of both Alex Iwobi and Stephan Lichtsteiner. They were dreadful on the right.

BUT.

There was a lot to like about Arsenal’s performance today. The team bounced back well from conceding in the first minute and played a great half of football. Bernd Leno easily had his best game of the season. Matteo Guendouzi probably had his too. Lucas Torreira looked to have gotten his jump back and was all over the pitch breaking up attacks. Alexandre Lacazette played well in a different, slightly deeper role. Both Nacho Monreal and Laurent Koscielny put in strong, encouraging performances that helped assuage some of my fears that they might be washed.

Dinos Mavropanos made his first appearance of the season - hopefully he can stay fit and get some minutes to develop. Denis Suarez made an unremarkable Arsenal debut - bringing on a guy on that has only been with the team a few days trailing away to Manchester City is a big ask.

I’m okay with what I saw today. It was better than I was expecting. But “better than expected” doesn’t get you points in the table, and that is what Arsenal need. They are three behind Chelsea for fourth, one off Manchester United for fifth.

Other than away to Spurs and home to United (both of which I see as more or less even), Arsenal should be favored in all of their remaining Premier League games. They may need to win them all. There is really no room for error at this point.