The Premier League returned last night with the usual – controversy about a refereeing decision and Manchester City demolishing Arsenal.
The Citizens beat Arsenal 3-0 at an empty Etihad Stadium thanks to goals from Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and substitute Phil Foden as a David Luiz horror-cameo took all the headlines in Manchester.
The Brazilian centre-back was initially left out of the starting line-up by manager Mikel Arteta, who hinted at problems behind the scenes pre-game as a potential reason. He was forced to bring him on however in the 24th minute as Pablo Mari, making his Premier League debut, picked up a calf injury and was unable to continue.
Arsenal had done relatively well up until that point, with City only really creating one clear-cut chance which forced Bernd Leno into a very good save low to his right. But then the big-haired former Chelsea and PSG defender entered the fray and the Gunners seemed to get anxious. A hopeful ball down the line by Kevin De Bruyne was sliced by Luiz straight into the path of Raheem Sterling, who took his time before smashing the ball into the corner for the first Premier League goal since it’s resumption and his first of 2020.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Luiz wanted the limelight a bit more in the second half. A quick Man City throw-in saw Riyad Mahrez react the quickest and chest the ball around a corner, out-pacing Luiz into the penalty area. The Brazilian then repeatedly tugged on Mahrez despite them being in the box, which brought Mahrez to the ground and gave Manchester City a penalty. Referee Anthony Taylor deemed that Luiz hadn’t made a genuine attempt to play the ball and thus produced a straight red card, reducing Arsenal to 10 men.
It took David Luiz just 25 minutes of pitch-time to completely dent Arsenal’s ambitions and likely end their chances at making next season’s Champions League, although the odds were already slim.
Following the game, Luiz came out and took responsibility for his performance saying that he felt he had to show his face and apologise. Speaking to Sky Sports, Luiz said:
“It’s my fault. The team did well, especially with 10 men. The coach is amazing, all the players are amazing, it was my fault. I want to be here. The coach knows. He wants me to stay.”
The 33 year-old signed for Arsenal last summer on a one-year contract with the option for a second year. That option hasn’t been triggered yet and if it’s not agreed before June 23rd, Luiz will leave the club at the end of the month. He took the blame for the contract situation also, but claimed he wants to stay at the Emirates.
“I should have taken a different decision in the last two months but I didn’t. All about my contract, if I stay here or not. I have 14 days to be here and that’s it. I should have tried to decide my future as early as possible, but I didn’t. I don’t want to use that as an alibi or excuse, it’s my fault – that’s it. I love to be here. That’s why I continue to train hard.”
Arsenal sit in 9th place in the league, 8 points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with 9 games to play this season.