Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus were on target as Manchester City underpinned their status as Premier League title favourites with a dominant 3-1 beating of an outclassed Arsenal.
Belgium international De Bruyne continued a sublime season by beating Petr Cech with a well-placed shot during a first half completely controlled by the home side at the Etihad Stadium.
Aguero, who became City’s all-time club-record goalscorer in the 4-2 Champions League beating of Napoli, then completed a memorable week with City’s second from the penalty spot early in the second half.
Substitute Alexandre Lacazette briefly restored hope for Arsenal, but Jesus – who also came off the bench – ended hope of what would have been an unfair comeback.
It was a more-than-deserved three points for City, whose mesmeric play, lightning speed and swift movement left Arsenal with no reply, and in truth the scoreline could have been worse had Aguero not missed an early chance and Sterling showed more composure in a two-on-one.
City, who had beaten Arsenal just once in nine competitive matches prior to this fixture, have now stretched their unbeaten run to 23 matches and lead the Premier League by eight points from Manchester United, albeit that gap will be cut back down if the Red Devils beat champions Chelsea.
From Arsenal’s perspective, the season may only be in November but a 12-point deficit to City appears insurmountable on this evidence for Arsene Wenger’s men.
Aguero nearly stretched his new club record in just the second minute when he fired wide of the right post at the end of a frightening counter-attack started by a mislaid pass from Alexis Sanchez, who but for some failed last-minute deadline-day deals may have been lining up for City in this fixture.
The visiting goal was living a charmed life as another lightning break saw Aguero slip in Leroy Sane, whose ball across the face of goal needed just a touch from Sterling.
It was with a certain sense of inevitability that City opened the scoring in the 19th minute.
Cech had just saved a De Bruyne snapshot, but possession was quickly regained and the Belgian played a neat one-two with Fernandinho before stroking a left-foot shot into the bottom-right corner for City’s 50th goal in all competitions this season.
Arsenal remained camped in their own half, and had someone gambled on David Silva’s pass across the face of goal or Sterling shown more composure to pick out Sane when two on one then City’s lead would have been doubled.
Chances for the visitors were at a premium, but Aaron Ramsey did test Ederson with a low drive on the stroke of half-time.
But it was normal service resumed early after the restart. Nacho Monreal was caught goalside of Sterling and brought the winger to ground in area, with Aguero converting the resulting spot-kick off the right-hand post.
Ederson nearly gifted Arsenal a route back into the match when he made a hash of a simple clip into the area from Alex Iwobi, but the Gunners did half the arrears in the 65th minute.
Arsenal capitalised on a dip in tempo from City and Ramsey slid in Lacazette on the right of the area where the France striker finished through the legs of Ederson.
The two-goal cushion was almost immediately re-established when Sane’s corner was flicked on by Silva and met by Gabriel Jesus, who was denied by Cech’s stunning point-blank stop.
But the game was put to bed in almost comical fashion. The Arsenal defence stopped in their tracks believing Silva to be offside from a Fernandinho throughball, and the Spaniard had all the time in the world to pick out substitute Jesus to sweep home.
Key Opta Facts:
– Manchester City’s 31 points and a +31 goal difference is the best-ever start to a Premier League season after 11 games.
– Arsenal have registered just one win away to the ‘Big Six’ in the Premier League since the start of 2014/15, drawing seven and losing 10.
– Manchester City’s haul of 52 goals is a record for a PL club after 17 games in all competitions (since 1992-93).
– Since the start of last season, Arsenal have conceded 12 goals from the penalty spot, more than any other Premier League side.
– Sergio Aguero has had a hand in 10 goals in his last five Premier League games (7 goals, 3 assists).
– Petr Cech has saved none of the 13 penalties he has faced with Arsenal in all competitions.
– Gabriel Jesus’ rate of a goal every 89.6 minutes in the Premier League is the best record of any player to score 10+ goals in the competition.