Mikel Arteta has put Arsenal’s longest unbeaten start to a season since 2007 down to consistency. And if the Gunners are going to take their game to the next level, that consistency has to turn to quality this Sunday.
Manchester City are in town and despite us only in October, the fixture already has a ‘title-decider’ feel about it.
Last campaign, the Citizens won all three of the meetings and the 4-1 thrashing at the Etihad Stadium all but confirmed the title for Pep Guardiola’s men.
Arsenal won’t fail in winning the Premier League if they lose on Sunday. It will, however, put them four points behind City and place another mental block in their heads.
If they do win, it will be their first league victory over the treble-winners since 2015 – 16 games in total. Much is resting on it.
So far this season, Arteta’s men have shown the different type of class on display that we were accustomed to last term. There are elements of the team that remain unclear heading into the game due to some major injury concerns.
Here, football.london takes you through three players that should be named at 3.30pm in the starting XI.
The work that Leandro Trossard does for Arsenal is unmatched. The January signing from Brighton has showcased his talent at the highest level since arriving and offers a completely different threat to Gabriel Martinelli.
His return to Arteta’s starting XI on Tuesday was one of very few positives from France. With Martinelli out and doubts over Bukayo Saka’s fitness, pressure will fall onto the Belgian’s shoulders to unlock the City defence.
There will be calls for Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah to both start, even with Saka starting. However, City’s dominance in defence means Nketiah may struggle and Trossard’s positioning from deep is perfect.
When fit, Trossard has made himself undroppable for Arteta. In fact, it would be fair to say that he’s struggled for regular minutes due to Martinelli and Saka’s superb form. If Arsenal are going to defeat City, world-class quality is going to be required in the final third.
Keep your friends but your enemies close. That’s the saying, right? Gabriel Jesus spent over four years at Man City under Guardiola’s stewardship. He knows the team and knows what makes them tick.
Now football isn’t as simple as that, we know that. Arteta knows that. But using a player like Jesus, with his smart play and clever thinking in tight scenarios, could work in Arsenal’s favour.
The Brazilian has multiple qualities. Dropping deep to feed players with more skill is one of them yet it could be his pace on the counter that could truly hurt City.
Whether he starts down the centre or on the right, Jesus’ will have a point to prove against his former side – especially if Arsenal are without Saka.
A no-brainer, for sure, but worth mentioning solely down to the importance of the midfield battle. Rodri’s absence due to suspension gives Arsenal the advantage and if Arteta gets the chess battle right in the middle of the park, the potential for three points is there.
Rice has been instrumental since moving to north London and has provided everything and more of what’s expected from him.
Turning up in big games is what Arsenal paid the big bucks for and they’ll be hoping the England international provides the security and legs this weekend.