Plus: Newcastle's strength in depth appears an issue after draw at West Ham; Hee-Chan Hwang takes centre stage for Wolves after scoring again
Sunday 8 October 2023 20:11, UK
The stat was startling. Man City's total of four shots against Arsenal was the fewest by a Pep Guardiola side in over 13 years.
In fact they managed just one shot on target all game and that was Josko Gvardiol's effort five minutes in, which Declan Rice cleared off the line.
David Raya looked nervous in the Arsenal goal but City barely threatened him. It was an unusually blunt performance from City, lacking fluidity and connection in the final third.
With Erling Haaland, Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez on the pitch, City supporters would have expected more, although clearly the absence of Kevin De Bruyne in a fixture like this is important. And with Jack Grealish - not yet up to full flow after his own injury - on the bench, City were unable to create a spark.
When you add in the suspension for Rodri, who gives City control in the middle of the park and a platform to build from - as well as the odd decisive goal - it is easy to make a case for things to improve rapidly for City in attacking areas in the coming weeks. This is hardly a crisis point.
But eight games in, five teams have outscored them in the Premier League, Haaland has one goal in five games and with a tough run of fixtures back-to-back after the international break, City need to re-find their rhythm up front if they are to match the ambitious challengers to their crown.
It will come as a surprise to no-one that Newcastle struggled to click into gear in the game following their biggest result in a generation, but the Magpies looked particularly leggy for large parts of Sunday's 2-2 draw at West Ham.
Their tempo was sadly lacking in the first half at the London Stadium, a world away from the celebrations of Wednesday's stunning 4-1 win over PSG.
"We weren't ourselves," admitted Eddie Howe. He finally saw some signs of life as Alexander Isak - their brightest player all afternoon - took matters into his own hands with a quickfire double to put them ahead. It's always easier to play when you're winning.
But this is the limitation of Howe's squad, which is bigger than last season but still far from Chelsea 22/23 levels. Without Anthony Gordon or Harvey Barnes to call upon, Elliot Anderson started on the left of the front three and found life tough going.
There was only one change from the PSG win - and that was Gordon's enforced absence - just showing how little rotation opportunity Howe has without impacting the quality of his starting line-up.
Going to a West Ham team enjoying their joint-best start to a Premier League season, he can't be blamed for wanting to keep his best players on the pitch.
But that itself came at a cost - as Newcastle began to tire again late on, one mistake allowed Vladimir Coufal to run and cross for Mohammed Kudus... And West Ham denied them a fourth straight win.
After scoring the winner against Manchester City last weekend to end the champions' perfect start to the Premier League season, Hee-Chan Hwang was at it again for Wolves at Molineux.
West Midlands rivals Aston Villa were the latest victims to suffer at the hands of who Pep Guardiola infamously described as "the Korean guy" ahead of City's surprising defeat.
If Hwang wasn't well known then, he certainly is now. The 27-year-old is in sensational form for Wolves. After giving his side the lead against Villa with a distinctive finish, Hwang has now scored six goals in all competitions already this term. In his first two campaigns combined after joining from RB Leipzig in 2021, he managed to find the net just nine times.
The South Korea international is the first Wolves player to have been directly involved in a goal in five consecutive Premier League home games. He has become the star man for Gary O'Neil's team and will no doubt have a significant say in where Wolves finish in May.
Liverpool have revelled in doing things the hard way this season, conceding the opening goal in seven of their 11 games in all competitions.
Klopp's side deserve credit for winning five of those seven matches but their powers of recovery can only take them so far.
Liverpool did brilliantly to almost claim a draw at Tottenham last week despite being reduced to nine players and being the victim of an infamous VAR error, but ultimately left north London without a point.
It looked as though another comeback was on the cards at Brighton thanks to Mohamed Salah but Liverpool were again unable to hold onto the points, giving away a poor free-kick and compounding the error by failing to defend it effectively.
Liverpool look far better placed to launch a convincing title challenge than last season but Jurgen Klopp will know more than any manager that finishing above Manchester City will only be possible if his side cut out their unforced errors.