Arsenal has started the English Premier League how the team hopes to end it – by getting the better of Manchester City.
The match is typically played between the winners of last season’s Premier League and FA Cup. Because City won both as part of the title treble also containing the Champions League for the first time, Arsenal took part as the runner-up in the league and might have gained a psychological edge heading into the new campaign that starts on Friday.
Cole Palmer curled in a 78th-minute goal after coming off the bench to give City the lead, only for Leandro Trossard to score with a deflected shot in the 11th minute of second-half stoppage time, taking the game to penalties.
Kevin De Bruyne hit the crossbar with a powerful strike from the spot and Rodri had an effort saved by Aaron Ramsdale, giving Fabio Vieira the opportunity to win it for Arsenal. The Portuguese playmaker curled it high into the corner.
Arsenal had the better of the chances in the 90 minutes with off-season-signing Kai Havertz — leading the line with Gabriel Jesus injured — having two close-range efforts saved in the first half and Bukayo Saka shooting wide.
Pep Guardiola’s men had been completely dominant in the early exchanges with Julian Alvarez just failing to make a significant connection with a header.
Arsenal, who handed their trio of summer signings debuts from the start, grew into the contest and had the best two opportunities of the first 45. New boy Kai Havertz had both chances but was brilliantly denied by City stopper Stefan Ortega on each occasion. Man City stepped it up again in the second half and Palmer looked to have won it when he curved a delightful left-foot shot into the far corner 13 minutes from the end.
However, deep into stoppage time Trossard took the contest to a shoot-out when his speculative shot deflected in off Manuel Akanji and Arsenal completed the remarkable turnaround from the spot.
Next up, Manchester City begin their Premier League title defence against former captain Vincent Kompany’s newly-promoted Burnley on Friday night.
Manchester City: The arrival of Josko Gvardiol somewhat eases questions over whether City have sufficient depth to compete on multiple fronts again this season but this is still a team that has lost Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan with further questions over the future of Kyle Walker, Aymeric Laporte, Joao Cancelo and perhaps even Bernardo Silva. Two Croatia internationals have arrived this summer, the aforementioned center back and Mateo Kovacic.
Gvardiol could be thrust into a bigger role from the off due to the injury issues that have hampered Nathan Ake during preseason. Both he and Kevin De Bruyne have been battling with issues this summer and may not feature at Wembley.
Arsenal: As City’s squad has contracted, Arteta’s has expanded with three summer additions so far — Jurrien Timber, Kai Havertz and record signing Declan Rice — with Granit Xhaka the only major departure so far. Arsenal’s great success last season came in no small part because of a settled XI, now they are hoping that they will have the options to be a more unpredictable, and therefore dangerous, opponent.
On Sunday, however, that threat will be lessened by the absence of Gabriel Jesus, who underwent a small surgical procedure earlier this week and will miss the opening weeks of the season. “He’s fine – obviously he was very disappointed, he was feeling really good,” said Arteta. “This issue came up which nobody expected so we had to do a little procedure there. Unfortunately, it was the best thing to do and as quickly as possible, the better. We made the decision and hopefully he’ll be back soon.”
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