Arsenal vs Manchester City: When Mikel Arteta begins to reflect on his finest moments as an Arsenal player, he will recollect the Emirates derby against Manchester City with great fondness. The then-Gunners midfielder was the first to seize a loose ball in the midfield and, after carrying it forward, secured all three points for Arsenal with a long-range shot that eluded Joe Hart.
Arsenal must have that player’s character on the field at the Emirates on Sunday when they host archrivals Manchester City. The Gunners not only capitalised on Pep Guardiola’s side’s outcome from the previous weekend, but they also narrowed the gap to a single point with them. Some consider this match an exceptional occasion to demonstrate their worth.
Mikel Arteta has beaten 23 of the 24 teams he’s faced as a manager in the Premier League. 🔥
The ONLY side he has failed to beat is Manchester City. 😳
Next up… Pep Guardiola’s side. 🙆♂️ pic.twitter.com/4lNEHastX9
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) October 6, 2023
Manchester City’s absence of key midfielders Kevin De Bruyne and Rodri will force Arsenal to approach this match as one that they must triumph over anything else. In some specific respects, Manchester City is marginally inferior due to the duo’s absence. But Guardiola will devise a strategy to compensate for those deficiencies.
Although Arsenal have established themselves as a formidable opponent this season, Manchester City have previously emerged victorious in similar contests regardless of the venue. Guardiola completely outperformed Arteta in their three meetings during the previous campaign. Nevertheless, the Arsenal manager will enter Sunday with a positive outlook.
Arsenal can depend on their juvenile winger to deliver after acquiring Bukayo Saka’s improved fitness, whereas Declan Rice will be instrumental in securing victory in the midfield battle. Manchester City possesses a multitude of athletes across all positions who are capable of effecting a turnaround. Guardiola will instead depend on Julian Alvarez’s form in De Bruyne’s absence.
These three players possess the ability to significantly impact the outcome of this contest. On Sunday, Saka and Rice will need to perform at their highest level, whereas Guardiola will have to trust that players such as Alvarez capitalize on their in-game opportunities.
🏴 Pep Guardiola on Declan Rice: “For sure everybody knows City wanted him, we wanted him. He could play not just when Rodri could not”.
“At the end, Arsenal pushed more and wanted him more, maybe Arteta was more convincing than me, or the club itself, or their offer…”. pic.twitter.com/l9GGuQKzJN
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) October 7, 2023
Arsenal vs Manchester City: Three Key Players to Keep an Eye On
The early season injury suffered by Kevin De Bruyne must have prompted Pep Guardiola to reconsider his season strategy. The devastating news arrived when evaluations indicated that the Belgian playmaker would be sidelined for an extended period of time. His absence was evident in the early performances of the team.
Julian Alvarez, simply the BEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD right now!🔥
— Opinionated Fan (@OpinionatedSF19) October 5, 2023
Fortunately for Guardiola, Alvarez stepped up to replace De Bruyne, and the Argentine has performed admirably thus far. While Erling Haaland continues to struggle to some degree, Alvarez has been the glowing star of this Manchester City squad, using his individual brilliance to compensate for some collective shortcomings.
This attribute is what distinguishes him as a player, and Guardiola will be hoping that the Argentine capitalizes on his opportunities to alter the game’s trajectory. In order to gain the upper edge, Manchester City must seek to establish an early advantage, and Alvarez’s element of surprise will be crucial in that regard.
Frequently, in games of this magnitude, all three points are awarded to the team that prevails in the midfield contests. Given that Manchester City demonstrated susceptibility with a Rodri-less midfield configuration last weekend, Rice will be under increased pressure to establish dominance through his playing style.
Declan Rice was very much the leader for #Arsenal tonight, demanding the ball and really trying to push us towards the win. 128 touches, 104 passes completed (92%), 4/4 dribbles, 6/6 ground duels and three interceptions. A player who didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. #AFC pic.twitter.com/lNCcXeD5I1
— Adam Keys (@adamkeys_) October 3, 2023
Arsenal currently possesses a midfielder who is dominant, a trait that Arteta appreciates in that position. Rice challenges his adversary in an effort to dominate the opponent’s central regions and typically emerges victorious in duels. The Gunners manager will be hoping that the England international will utilize his considerable abilities on the field on Sunday in an effort to capitalize on favorable circumstances in Arsenal’s favor.
With Thomas Partey joining Rice in the Arsenal midfield, the two could undoubtedly gain the upper hand and establish dominance. Additionally, they can serve as an exceptional shield for their defensive line of defense, which will appear essential considering the caliber of the opposing force. The decisive moment of this game will occur in the midfield, and Rice should occupy that position.
Anyone who has noticed a shift in Arsenal’s style of play must have noticed Arteta’s increasing dependence on Saka to generate offense in the final third. As many assists as goals in all competitions have been accumulated by the winger, who has already scored four goals in the Premier League.
Bukayo Saka has played in each of Arsenal’s last 87 Premier League games, a club record streak of uninterrupted appearances in the competition.
He’s in contention to make 88 in a row. 👀 pic.twitter.com/5TFiS5PAfh
— Squawka (@Squawka) October 6, 2023
He could have contributed significantly more to that total had he converted every penalty kick they have faced thus far this season. Saka failed to complete three of those, demonstrating that he is developing into a significant contributor in terms of volume this term. However, it would be an enormous boost for Arsenal if he started, and he certainly could, given the veracity of the numerous reports indicating otherwise.
If he does not, it will provide Manchester City with an enormous boost. On Sunday at the Emirates, Arteta will once more formulate his offensive strategies around Saka, and the winger must perform at his highest level. He is capable of keeping opposing defenses on their toes and his cunning and decisiveness will wreak devastation at the back.