Arsenal will brace themselves for a tough challenge ahead when they meet Manchester City at the Etihad on Saturday. The Gunners have had a strong start to the season and would like to continue their good form, especially against a Man City side, who have terribly underperformed so far this campaign.
Here, at The 4th Official, we will discuss what Mikel Arteta can do to ensure a win over Man City tomorrow.
Find An Early Goal
Arsenal won 2-0 when these two sides last met in the semi-final of the FA Cup last season. A key aspect of their victory was an early goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang that broke Manchester City’s attacking rhythm, forcing them to find an equaliser.
More importantly, however, it offered Arsenal the incentive to sit back and contain the pressure exerted by their opposition. It was something they did remarkably well as the Sky Blues had notably shared 71% of possession.
On Saturday, Arteta will once again be demanding an early goal from his side that could potentially break the balance of play. The onus should likely be on the offensive trio of Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Willian, whose creativity could prove to be important in this fixture.
A Strong Midfield Foundation
In order to prevent Manchester City from dominating this fixture, Arsenal must find a proper and strong foundation in midfield. The obvious option for Arteta is to deploy Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos in the double-pivot of his 3-4-3.
However, one could argue that Elneny could potentially be a better option. The Egyptian international has had a promising start to the campaign so far. He is much more combative than Ceballos and his box to box qualities could help Arsenal lay a strong base in the second line of press.
Arteta can then deploy Ceballos in the second half when the game is much more open. It could suit the Spaniard well since he is capable of threading the defence with well placed through balls.
As for Thomas Partey, he should not be risked in this high stake encounter given the fact that he is just coming back from the international break without even playing a single game for Arsenal.
Key Personnel Changes
Arteta might have to make some tough decisions regarding his team selection this weekend.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles, in particular, should get the nod in the left wingback position. The Englishman is a much more defence-oriented fullback when compared to Bukayo Saka or Sead Kolasinac. He also has the pace to cover ground quickly, thus making him an ideal fullback.
As for Saka, he should be deployed in an attacking role, perhaps at the expense of Willian at right-wing.
Although the experienced Brazilian has loads of experience against top teams, Saka can provide that extra bit of versatility and dynamism going forward while he has also shown his ability to find the back of the net in the past.