New Arsenal head coach Unai Emery began life at the Emirates Stadium with defeat as Manchester City started their Premier League title defence with a well-deserved victory.
Emery has promised to take Arsenal in a “new way” after replacing Arsene Wenger in May and there were some signs of it here, although the reigning champions proved to be too strong for the Gunners on their way to a 2-0 win.
This was Pep Guardiola’s 11th meeting with Emery and he remains unbeaten against his fellow Spaniard as Raheem Sterling’s 50th Premier League goal got the ball rolling before Bernardo Silva struck in the second half.
City thrashed Wenger’s Arsenal 3-0 twice in four days last season but there was renewed vigour heading into the campaign, with Emery keen not to dwell on the Frenchman’s reign and admitting he has not held a conversation with his predecessor at any point.
Emery’s side looked good early on, chasing and pressurising the opposition much more than in the latter stages of Wenger’s tenure – even if a similar result was the eventual outcome.
Sterling had the game’s first real chance, picking up a Sergio Aguero flick before getting past Shkodran Mustafi easily and forcing a smart save from Petr Cech at his near post.
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.
Emery’s side continued with their pressing approach and almost forced an equaliser as Hector Bellerin cut inside and tested Ederson with a drilled effort.
Cech suffered a heart-in-mouth moment as Arsenal tried, and failed, to play out from the back – the former Chelsea man almost turning the ball into his own goal as he attempted to pass across to Mustafi.
Preferred to summer signing Bernd Leno, Cech went some way to making amends for his shaky start to the season by pushing away a low Riyad Mahrez free-kick and then blocking Aymeric Laporte’s close-range follow-up.
Things got worse for Emery when Ainsley Maitland-Niles – only starting at left-back due to injuries to Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac – limped off to be replaced by another newcomer in Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Mahrez bent an effort just wide of the post as he looked to mark his Premier League debut for the champions with a goal with City taking almost complete control of proceedings leading up to the interval.
Aguero saw an early second-half strike deflected behind for a corner before Emery brought on Alexandre Lacazette for Aaron Ramsey.
The France striker injected more urgency into Arsenal’s attacks and sent an effort just wide only moments after coming on.
The visitors should have been out of sight as Aguero burst through on goal following Guendouzi’s missed interception – but the usually clinical Argentinian saw his strike saved by Cech.
Just moments later the points were secured as Benjamin Mendy’s cut-back was turned home brilliantly by Bernardo, with substitute Kevin De Bruyne’s last-gasp strike tipped over the crossbar.