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Guardiola expects tougher test in title defence

12 Août 2018

Despite their bright start, Arsenal fell behind - Cech failed to cover himself in glory as Sterling opened the scoring a long-range strike that appeared to flash past the unsighted Gunners captain and put City ahead. He could still make manager Unai Emery's 18-man squad, but it will be a late decision on his fitness. A team filled with elite talents in the prime of their careers, Manchester City have only achieved the bare minimum under Guardiola and their real test will come in Europe, although anything but a win against Arsenal will be a dampener for the champions.

More than anything, City looked - inevitably - more comfortable in their system: their passing was slicker, their pressing more integrated.

City's strength in depth was illustrated when Mahrez made way for Kevin de Bruyne just before the hour mark. The 2-0 score line, in truth, doesn't demonstrate City's superiority.

Indeed, the reigning champions have ended the following season outside the top four in each of the last three years.

There is no rest for the tired in England's Premier League as the 2018-19 season is underway. But what will Emery's first line-up look like?

There were some positive signs.

Arsenal will certainly have to improve though, as in the last two seasons we have taken only one point off Pep Guardiola's men and were destroyed in the League Cup Final.

If it's a 4-3-3 Ozil will play from the right, although won't relish the prospect of tracking back with Benjamin Mendy. And stopping Manchester City superstar Sergio Aguero could be an ideal way to silence his critics.

Arsenal's real problem, though, was at the other end.

Raheem Sterling gave the visitors the lead inside 15 minutes when he cut inside Hector Bellerin before firing the ball past a near-motionless Petr Cech in the Arsenal goal. This charade ended with the home supporters sarcastically cheering when Cech finally chose to thump the ball forward.

Another starter who might not make the XI is Aaron Ramsey who suffered a calf injury in pre-season.

Arsenal have plenty of options in attack, and Emery, to bring the best out of Mesut Ozil, will likely place him in his preferred No. 10 position. The new Arsenal boss, asked if Arsene Wenger had been in touch, responded by saying his way would be the new way at the club.

Here are the player ratings from the 2-0 defeat. What a start to his and City's season.

Guardiola expects tougher test in title defence