66 min: Double substitution for Arsenal Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Martinelli replace Kieran Tierney and the impressive Leandro Trossard.
It all started when Alvarez turned, 25 yards from goal, and crashed a superb shot that beat Turner and hit the far post. Grealish collected the rebound, protected the ball for a few seconds and then laid it back to the supporting Ake, 12 yards out. Ake had to shoot first time, with Saliba coming to meet him, and he calmly passed the ball across Turner and into the far corner. That was such a precise finish.
GOAL! Man City 1-0 Arsenal (Ake 64)
All that attacking talent on the field, and Nathan Ake breaks the deadlock.
64 mins Apparently Thomas Partey took a knock to the ribs in the first half, so I’d imagine he was substitute as a precaution.
62 mins Mikel Arteta will be thrilled with how comfortable Arsenal have been so far. It’s not quite a reverse side, but it’s not far off – at the moment they have four of their best XI on the field, and they have been the equal of City.
61 mins City have changed shape slightly – Alvarez is playing behind Haaland, with De Bruyne to the right and Grealish on the left.
60 mins “In their last game against Arsenal, City’s only shot on target before their stoppage time winner was a penalty,” says Zach Neeley. “They have zero so far today. If Arsenal are heading toward another moral victory, I hope it’s to get it out of their system, because after today those won’t be good enough.”
59 mins A long ball forward is headed up in the air by Nketiah on the edge of the area. It drops for Vieira, who swishes a volley wide of the far post. He had the time to take a touch there.
58 mins: Double substitution for City Kyle Walker and Julian Alvarez replace Rico Lewis and Riyad Mahrez.
55 mins Turner is okay to continue and makes an important save from De Bruyne’s sliderule cross. Haaland was waiting behind him to score.
City are starting to look better in attack.
54 mins The Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner has hurt his left shoulder and is receiving treatment.
52 mins Mahrez clips a nice pass into Lewis, running into space on the right side of the area. He tries to hook the ball across goal from a tight angle but screws it into the side netting.
51 mins City break promisingly. De Bruyne plays a through pass to Haaland, who is sandwiched by Tomiyasu and Saliba in the area. He sends Tomiyasu flying with a shoulder charge but Saliba clears the danger.
50 mins “I really ought to have known that Richard Rodgers wrote the music to both bluemoon and You’ll Never Walk Alone, which got me thinking if other clubs might use some of his melodies too,” says Gary Naylor. “So far, I’ve only got Sean Dyche being asked about how many signings he needs before Monday night and replying, ‘Sixteen Going On Seventeen.’”
49 mins The second half has started as the first finished, and that’s not a compliment. The atmosphere is so flat.
47 mins “I saw REM circa 86-87 in a gymnasium at the University of British Columbia,” says Allan Castle. “If I rightly recall the opening act was Guadalcanal Diary. Anyway, good show but my principal memory was Michael Stipe going on a several minute between-song diatribe about human rights in Central America.
“When he finished there was some scattered clapping, then silence, followed by the longhair guy standing next to me on the floor shouting ‘ROCK AND ROLL!’ – a command rather than a comment. Welcome to BC.”
46 mins Peep peep! Erling Haaland gets the second half under way.
Mikel Arteta has made two half-time changes Albert Sambi Lokonga and William Saliba are on for Thomas Partey and Rob Holding. No word yet on whether Partey has an injury.
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Half time: Man City 0-0 Arsenal
That’s the end of a first half that was oddly sleepy at times, particularly when City had the ball. I’m struggling to make sense of it all.
A much changed Arsenal had the better chances, with Stefan Ortega saving well from the lively Leandro Trossard and Eddie Nketiah volleying wide. Kevin De Bruyne almost scored a peach for City, but there was no rhythm in their play and Erling Haaland spent most of the half having a wrestling match with Rob Holding.
45+4 mins Actually, Laporte has only just come onto the field, as he wasn’t ready when Stones limped off.
45+3min: City substitution Aymeric Laporte replaces the luckless John Stones.
45+2 mins “These are the best two teams in England, Rob?” sniffs Simon McMahon. “I’ve switched over to Cove Rangers v Ayr United on the BBC Scotland channel. Still following the MBM of course, whilst listening to Document.”
45+1 mins Two minutes of added time. John Stones is down with what looks like a hamstring problem. That’s a bad blow for City – they have a lot of centre-halves but he has arguably been the best in the past 18 months.
45 mins “Man City,” says Jeff Sax, “are playing like Pep’s pre-game interview.”
They’re just not right at the moment, are they?
43 mins “That’s a wonderful photo of a sweaty Hulk Holding in close combat with Haaland Macho Man Savage,” says Peter Oh. “Have you got one of Rowdy Rodri Piper?”
Hulk Holding is a keeper.
42 mins Holding is booked for his 48th shirt pull on Haaland, who was breaking into space.
39 mins Ortega gets away with a nervous bit of goalkeeping. He came to the edge of his area to meet a strange backpass from Mahrez, booted the ball against Stones and then took out Nketiah in his follow through.
38 mins: Chance for Haaland! Tierney, in the center circle, slices a clearance towards his own goal. The last man Gabriel has a few yards on Haaland, who shows frightening speed to get to the ball first on the edge of the area. He lobs it over Turner and a few yards wide of the right-hand post. Having got to the ball, he probably should have done better.
37 mins “Based upon your MBM so far (to watch this match in the US requires a $100/year subscription, sorry World’s Grandest Domestic Cup but it isn’t worth it!),” begins Alex Whitney, “is it fair to say there’s a significant degree of nominative determinism applying to the behaviors of Arsenal’s fourth-choice center back?”
Heh, indeed, although I should stress it’s been a 50/50 wrestling match.
36 mins Grealish swaggers infield, away from Tomiyasu, but his through pass towards Haaland is well read by Holding.
34 mins “Greeting Rob from sunny, soggy northern California,” says Mary Waltz. “I saw REM at the Forum in LA on the Green Tour. Outstanding performance, they put on a show that filled the entire arena. The exact opposite of the Everton dumpster fire. Nothing in the transfer window so far allays my fear of relegation, Dyche is a nice guy but his hiring is a bit of a damp squib. Sigh.”
I know it’s not as exciting as Bielsa but I think he’s a perfect fit. And if he can’t sort out the mess, you really are in trouble.
33 mins: Chance for Nketiah! Arsenal are the best team at the moment. Trossard surges down the left and arrows a cross to the near post, where Nketiah gets across Akanji but volleys wide from six yards. It came quickly and a slightly awkward height, but he’s good enough to take chances like that.
32 mins “I’m old enough to remember the origins of the phrase ‘What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?’ dating back to 1986,” writes James. “Wonderful if anyone else does…”
Crikey, I’d never heard that before. Who knew? You, obviously.
31 mins Haaland has passed a concussion test and is going to continue.
30 mins Now Haaland is down holding the back of his head, which was introduced to one of the bonier bits of Rob Holding’s right arm. I suspect he’d have been booked had the referee seen it.
29 mins “The best soundtrack for a sporting event is cranking up The Who’s ‘I Can See for Miles’ when the first downhill skier leaves the start house at the Kitzbuhel Hahnenkahm,” writes Bob Best. “He’s exceeding 100 kph within a few seconds and hanging on for dear life. Breath-taking and head-banging at the same time.”
AND THAT’S NOT HEALTHY, IS IT.
28 mins Holding and Haaland have spent most of the first half re-enacting WrestleMania IV. So far, Holding is winning.
27 mins After a cautious start, the game is starting to live up a peedie bit.
25 min: Just wide from De Bruyne! That’s more like it from City. De Bruyne cuts inside from the right, 25 yards from goal, and shapes a delicious left-footed curler that flashes just wide of the far post. Turner wouldn’t have saved it.
23 mins “Completely different mood, but here’s my favorite version of Blue Moon, by Canadian band Cowboy Junkies,” says Liz White. “They also do an extremely moody cover of Sweet Jane.”
21 min: Very good save from Ortega! Saka and Vieira moved the ball smoothly across the field to leave Trossard one on one with Lewis on the left side of the area. He beat Lewis with a pretty simple stepover and blasted a left-footed shot across goal that was beaten away by the flying Ortega. That’s a much better save than the first one.