Arsenal exited the League Cup at the quarter final stage with another poor performance to round out nearly two consecutive months without a domestic victory.
Gabriel Jesus headed in at the near post before the game could really even get started and that set the tone for the rest of an evening that some may describe as disappointing, though the word ‘expected’ might better fit.
Even an equaliser from Alexandre Lacazette couldn’t raise hopes of an unexpected defeat for the perennial League Cup winners – unbeaten in this competition since October 26 2016.
The visitors added two goals in quick succession in the second half, with Riyad Mahrez’s simple free kick and Phil Foden’s smart run and chip asking serious questions of Alex Runarsson in the Arsenal goal, before Aymeric Laporte knocked in a fourth.
After all that was made in the pre-match commentary about needing to keep it tight, Arsenal got off to the worst possible start by allowing Jesus to head in at the near post after comically bad defending – Shkodran Mustafi letting the ball sail over his head and Runarsson punching at thin air.
The first half rumbled on without much incident – Manchester City having 89% of the possession at one point, and the prevailing attitude being one of familiar discontent.
However, it was later City’s turn to defend in a dubious manner, allowing the returning Martinelli to set up Lacazette for a header of his own – the hosts were level in the 31st minute against every single possible omen, metric, tea leaf reading and every other form of prediction known to mankind.
The cautious optimism of the first half was only brought down slightly by a heavy challenge by Steffen on Martinelli, causing the Brazilian to play out the remainder of the first half in tremendous pain.
The youngster’s first start since returning from a long injury didn’t make it much beyond the start of the second half, as Nicolas Pepe came on to replace him within the opening five minutes.
And it got worse for the hosts as Runarsson spilled a simple Mahrez free-kick over his shoulder and into the net – after making one excellent first-half save to deny Jesus, the Icelandic goalkeeper embarrassed himself with a really shockingly poor piece of goalkeeping.
Foden added in a third, half an hour from time, dinking the ball smartly over the onrushing Icelander, albeit from an offside position.
Laporte headed in a fourth after a good cross from Foden, but it was yet more poor Arsenal defending as Sead Kolasinac failed to play multiple players offside, but by this point just writing about the game is putting in more effort than that made by those in red and white tonight.
Man of the match: Phil Foden. I’ve long said I’d like him to play more at another club but what a special talent he is.
Arsenal: Runarsson, Mustafi, Gabriel, Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles, Elneny (Smith Rowe 66′), Ceballos, Cedric, Willock, Lacazette (Balogun 77′), Martinelli (Pepe 48′)
Subs: Leno, Tierney, Mari, Nketiah
Man City: Steffen, Cancelo, Dias, Laporte, Zinchenko, Rodrigo (Walker 76′), Fernandinho, Bernardo (Torres 69′), Mahrez, Foden, Jesus (Aguero 72′)
Subs: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Sterling, Gundogan