Premier League

Premier League: Clinical Manchester City spoil Emery’s Arsenal bow

The defending champions signalled their intent to retain the Premier League title with a stylish 2-0 win

Manchester City ruined the start of the Unai Emery era at Arsenal as the champions signalled their intent to retain the Premier League title with a stylish 2-0 win on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola’s side swept to the title last term with a record 100 points and they were quickly back in the groove at the Emirates Stadium.

Raheem Sterling opened the scoring with a clinical finish early in the first half and Bernardo Silva’s thunderous strike capped a City success that served as a resounding warning to their title rivals.

No team has successfully defended the English title since Manchester United in 2008-09.

But on the evidence of this composed display, City have every chance of emulating their rivals’ achievement.

Picking up where they left off last term, City had too much class for Arsenal and easily repelled the hosts’ few dangerous moments.

City’s excellence underlined the size of the task facing new Arsenal boss Emery as the Gunners begin life without Arsene Wenger.

Arsenal were playing a competitive match without Wenger in charge for the first time since September 1996.

Emery was hired to replace Wenger following the Frenchman’s exit at the end of a dismal campaign which saw Arsenal labour to a sixth-place finish in the Premier League – 37 points behind City.

The Spaniard will need time to make his mark on a moribund club and, while Arsenal couldn’t be faulted for effort against City, there was precious little quality about their play.

Guardiola insists his players are still “starving” for success and there is little doubt City’s hunger for silverware remains strong.

The City boss started with Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane on the bench as he recalled Sterling and gave a Premier League debut to Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez, whose move from Leicester was Guardiola’s only major close-season signing.

Sterling impresses

Sterling proved to be City’s creative fulcrum, but he was fortunate to escape with a yellow card for a studs-up foul on Arsenal debutant Matteo Guendouzi in the early stages.

The England winger showed the more pleasing side of his game with an incisive burst past Shkodran Mustafi that took him into the Arsenal area and ended with Petr Cech saving his rising drive.

Having spent the dying embers of Wenger’s reign subjecting the Frenchman to vitriolic abuse, Arsenal’s fans were energised by the sight of Emery on the touchline.

But that noisy optimism was punctured in ruthless style by Sterling in the 14th minute.

Taking possession on the left edge of the Arsenal area, Sterling glided past Hector Bellerin and Guendouzi before drilling a fierce shot that flashed past the unsighted Cech from 18 yards.

Arsenal finally threatened when Bellerin’s blast forced City goalkeeper Ederson to make a good stop.

Arsenal still looked anxious and Cech almost scored a bizarre own goal when his miscued pass across the penalty area crept wide of his unguarded net.

Making amends for that blunder, Cech kept out a Mahrez free-kick before alertly recovering to block Aymeric Laporte’s effort from the rebound.

Arsenal were pressing with more urgency than under Wenger, but City looked far more potent and Mahrez went close with a curling effort at the end of a rapid break.

Emery has challenged Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to finish as the Premier League’s top scorer after the Gabon forward netted 10 times in 13 games following his January move from Borussia Dortmund.

However, Aubameyang will need better service than he received against City to achieve that target.

Emery sent on Alexandre Lacazette soon after the interval and the France forward had an immediate impact, taking Aubameyang’s pass and shooting just wide.

City responded in emphatic fashion and Silva wrapped up the points in the 64th minute.

Sterling and Mendy outnumbered Bellerin on the right, with the French defender’s cross picking out Silva, who cleverly peeled away from his marker Stephan Lichtsteiner to fire past the exposed Cech.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.