Luiz sees red, Arsenal see blue
By Nilavro Ghosh
A nightmare in the Manchester rain for David Luiz as Pep’s blues make short work of Arteta’s Gunners, once again exposing their defensive mediocrity
“Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.” A quote made famous by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. If his words are anything to go by, it is safe to say that Arsenal will not be winning any titles unless there is a complete revamp of their back line. Forget trophies, the London club might not even qualify for the Europa League considering their performance against champions Manchester City.
After over three months without football, the two English heavyweights clashed at the Etihad stadium on Wednesday. On paper, City indeed looked clear winners but Arsenal fans were hopeful going into the game considering they had won three consecutive matches before the lockdown. With no injuries or suspensions, the Gunners stood as formidable opponents to Guardiola’s team.
Arteta’s side started the game positively, playing on par with the champions but two serious injuries in the first half to midfielder Granit Xhaka and defender Pablo Mari heavily dented their momentum and allowed City to get into their rhythm and there was no turning back.
A player who played an all important role in City’s win was Arsenal’s David Luiz. The Brazilian had come on the replace Pablo Mari in the heart of the defence and could only remain on the pitch for 22 minutes. To him however, that must have felt like the longest 22 minutes of his life.
The former Chelsea man misjudged what should have been a simple clearance on the stroke of half time allowing the deadly Raheem Sterling to slot one past Bernd Leno, who was arguably the Gunners’ best player of the pitch. The Brazilian went on to concede a penalty and red card within minutes of the second half’s commencement, allowing City’s Kevin De Bruyne to double their advantage from the spot. Substitute Phil Foden made it three in stoppage time after an Aguero shot hit the post and fell kindly for him.
Arsenal currently sit ninth on the league table, four points behind sixth placed Sheffield United who drew against Aston Villa. It might not seem like a lot but given the Gunners’ form and defensive mediocrity, those four points seem like 14. Arteta would have to pull out off an incredible feat to ensure European football next season.
The absence of European football would discourage quality defenders from joining Arsenal and their defence is in dire need of repair. The likes of Luiz, Mustafi, Holding and Sokratis are quite simply not good enough for the long and gruesome competition of the Premier League or any of the intercontinental tournaments. A lot of the responsibility lies with owner Stan Kroenke to inject much needed cash for new signings, but the board must also refrain from panic buys like Nicolas Pepe and focus on strengthening the defence.
The two sets of players took a knee before the game, showing their respect and support for the Black Lives Matters movement and the martyred George Floyd. The shirt of every single player from the first set of games will say ‘Black Lives Matter’ instead of their names as well.
Arsenal are away to Brighton next on Saturday while Manchester City will be back at the Etihad against Burnley on Monday.