Manchester City pushed Arsenal deeper into crisis as they won with embarrassing ease at Emirates Stadium.
Kevin de Bruyne produced a first-half masterclass as Pep Guardiola’s side cruised into a three-goal lead by the interval with two superb strikes, either side of a perfect pass that laid on City’s second for Raheem Sterling’s simple finish.
It was a harrowing experience for Arsenal caretaker manager Freddie Ljungberg, who was a powerless low-key presence, his minimal impact since succeeding the sacked Unai Emery reflected in a record of one win from his five matches in interim charge.
Arsenal’s lack of inspiration in an Emirates Stadium devoid of life and atmosphere will surely only increase the urgent need to appoint a full-time manager – although at this stage it is still unclear which direction the Gunners hierarchy intends to go.
City, meanwhile, remain 14 points behind leaders Liverpool after this win, which was a classic reminder of the quality the reigning Premier League champions possess.
This was as grim as it gets for Arsenal and Ljungberg, a caretaker manager who has not been able to coax an ounce extra out of the squad he inherited after Emery was shown the door.
First things first – this is not all the Swede’s fault, as this was a rot that set in long before Emery’s dismissal, although Ljungberg had a close-up view as a member of his backroom staff.
What has been disturbing, however, is Ljungberg’s lack of impact on Arsenal, exemplified by the manner in which they were treated almost with contempt by Manchester City.
This result leaves the Gunners stuck between the top four and the relegation zone, seven points away from both, and the thousands of empty seats and a game concluded in resigned silence from the home support spoke volumes.
Arsenal had no spark, no creation and no fight – City actually went easy on them in the second half.
And while relegation talk is a stretch, that spark is something they must find soon, whether it is under Ljungberg or a new full-time manager.
More to follow