A sleepy start to the new Premier League season is likely to turn into a full-blown nightmare for Arsenal as they travel to the Etihad to face reigning champions Manchester City on Saturday.
After an embarrassing opening-round defeat to Brentford, Arsenal were gunned down 2-0 by Chelsea last Sunday to leave them dwindling down in 19th place on the standings.
Under-pressure manager Mikel Arteta is said to now have a handful of games to turn Arsenal’s fortunes around or face the sack.
After the Gunners’ worst start to a league season in their 118-year history, Arteta and his team will be desperate to somehow silence the critics who have come out in full force, particularly after expectations were raised after £130 million was splashed out in the close season.
Of course, there are some mitigating circumstances such as losing key players Alexandre Lacazette and £50-million signing Ben White due to coronavirus.
However, Martin Odegaard, signed from Real Madrid recently, and Alexandre Lacazette, are available for Wednesday’s trip to West Brom in the League Cup, and Arteta hopes it could kick-start their season.
“We want to try to get players back if possible to help us because then we have Manchester City at the weekend, and to try to lift the players,” he commented.
“Obviously they are hurt, the feeling is tough at the moment, they need some help as well with players coming back, and keep them together, because the spirit there is good.”
Meanwhile, City rebounded from a disappointing opening-round defeat to Tottenham by hammering Norwich City 5-0 last weekend.
Record signing, Jack Grealish, scored his first goal for the English champions since his move from Aston Villa, and manager Pep Guardiola has called on him to keep refining his goal-scorer’s instinct.
However, it was Gabriel Jesus who stole the headlines in an unfamiliar role on the right side of the City attack, and won plenty of praise from Guardiola.
“One of the reasons why I’m a manager is when you can work with people and humans like Gabriel. He never complains.”
Of course, it can’t go without mention that as City head into Saturday’s clash against Arsenal as favourites, there is plenty of fascinating speculation off the field suggesting that they are continuing to push ahead for the signing of England captain Harry Kane, which comes amid reports of interest in Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo.
“The group of people are fantastic, the players have incredible quality, so I cannot complain,” Guardiola said after Saturday’s win.
“I’ve never complained since I arrived on day one, I will not do it now, but of course the club has an obligation, the duty to look forward, to get better, to feel we can still be there with a tough Premier League and this is what we are going to do.”
City did a 1-0 double over Arsenal last season but following the visitor’s slow start, they will be lucky to concede just one goal.
Saturday’s match kicks off at 1:30pm.