Mikel Arteta worked as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City for 1,266 days until being called up to Arsenal on December 20, 2019.
Arteta has spent nearly the same number of days at Arsenal, 1,224 days, as he faces his teacher on Wednesday, April 26, 2023, hoping that the lessons learned will offer the Gunners a chance to win the English Premier League.
City and Arsenal are separated by five points, but Guardiola’s team has two games in hand [a bird in hand, many will say, is always better…] all they have to do is not lose to the Gunners and win their two outstanding games to overtake Arsenal.
Three consecutive draws opened the window for City to have a chance to overtake Arsenal, who have led the EPL table since week 3 or thereabouts. With just six games to the end of the season, their stranglehold seems to be loosening at the worst of times.
Since William Saliba went off injured against Sporting Lisbon in a UEFA Europa League tie on 16 March, Arsenal have won two of their next five matches, but the salient point is they have conceded nine goals.
But City have found a purple patch, drawing just once in their last 10 matches in all competitions, scoring 35 goals, and conceding just four. In that sequence, Erling Haaland has scored 15 goals. Will Rob Holding have the defensive nous to keep Haaland at bay?
City has been in this predicament before, and recent history shows that they enjoy such confrontations, termed “squeaky bum time” by legendary Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.
Three successive draws–two in which Arsenal led 2-0 and might have easily won, and the most recent in which they needed to score two goals in the final two minutes of a game against bottom-placed Southampton–show a team under pressure. It’s almost a guarantee that Arteta will need to keep his team focused on Wednesday’s game rather than the occasion or outcome they don’t need.
Former Arsenal and City player Samir Nasri believes City have the edge, as per quotes from L’Equipe.
“City are reaching the peak of their form at the right moment, with all of their players being available for the run-in, unlike previous years. Meanwhile, Arsenal are slowing down, having being in the lead virtually all season. “Sometimes, when you’re so close to your goal but you’re not used to winning, you get the jitters.”
|Goals Scored [In the box]
|Goals Scored [Outside the box]
|Shots on target
The above statistics show that City and Arsenal are quite similar in terms of performance levels, with the most noticeable difference being Haaland, who has scored 32 league goals in 28 appearances compared to Arsenal’s highest goal scorer, Gabriel Martinelli, who has 15 goals in 32 games.
Head to head
15/02/23 PRL Arsenal 1 – 3 Man City
27/01/23 FAC Man City 1 – 0 Arsenal
01/01/22 PRL Arsenal 1 – 2 Man City
28/08/21 PRL Man City 5 – 0 Arsenal
21/02/21 PRL Arsenal 0 – 1 Man City
What the managers are saying
“They made 50 points in one half. When this happens, it’s hats off. I think we didn’t drop in comparison much from the previous seasons. But in the end, we were consistent, kept believing, stayed there, game by game knowing what we have to do and in the end, the situation is the situation.
“But tomorrow, at home where we feel comfortable with our people, I know everyone will be there and we will feel them. Hopefully, our football can help to make them feel more and more. We will see. After, the players will do their best.” – Pep Guardiola, Man City Manager
“Mentality plays a huge part. Obviously, the belief is there. When I look at how they train, how they reacted after that [result against Southampton], the mood in the dressing room, the way they defended each other in each moment – we really want it.
“We’re going to show that again tomorrow night, but then you have to deliver in the right moment, the right performance and it has to be perfect because that’s what these last levels demand. It’s absolute perfection in every single ball.” – Mikel Arteta, Arsenal Manager
Just as Guardiola seeks to teach another lesson, Arteta is braced to show that he learned so much and more. Kickoff is at the Etihad Stadium at 8 pm and you can follow all the action live on PREMIUM TIMES
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