Gunners Take Aim at Champions Man City
Challengers versus champions. Protégée versus mentor. First versus second.
Arsenal and Manchester City go head-to-head on Wednesday with lots at stake at the Emirates Stadium.
This fixture was originally scheduled to take place in October but had been postponed, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, to allow for Arsenal to complete their European commitments before the FIFA World Cup.
Arsenal come into this crucial encounter with a 3-point lead at the summit of the Premier League, down from the 8-point cushion they held just weeks ago.
Arsenal dropped 5 points in their last two league encounters, allowing for Man City to narrow the gap behind the league leaders.
Following a traditional defeat at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Citizens returned to winning ways as they beat Aston Villa, 3-1, last time out.
Guardiola's charges have won just half of their 10 league matches on the road this season, including a solitary win in their three away from home in 2023.
City escaped Stamford Bridge with a slender 1-0 win over Chelsea before going down to local rivals Man United, 2-1, followed by another loss at Spurs.
Arsenal have failed to win any of their six league meetings at home to Man City since Guardiola too charge at the Etihad Stadium in 2016. The aggregate score in that time frame is 3:13 in favour of the Sky Blues.
In their seven previous clashes across all competitions, only once has Arteta got the better of Guardiola who is 11 years his senior.
But if there was ever a time for Arteta to bag a maiden league win over his mentor, it is now. The ex-Man City assistant manager is equipped better than ever to get one over his former boss and it is sure to be a closely fought battle between two tacticians cut from the same cloth.
The teams met in the FA Cup fourth round, three weeks ago, as Man City ran out 1-0 winners.
On that occasion, Arsenal were not at full strength and Arteta ultimately rotated more than Guardiola did. This time around, the Gunners boss is likely to call upon the trusted XI which he has relied upon for much of the season.
On 12 occasions this league campaign has Arteta named the same 10 players in his starting line-up, not including the striker. Of those 12 matches, Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah have started six apiece after the Brazilian sustained a knee injury at the World Cup.
Martin Ødegaard is the team's top scorer this term, with eight goals in the league, while wingers Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli have bagged seven apiece.
Saka, 21, has also produced eight assists, with only Kevin De Bruyne (11) creating more goals in the current campaign.
January signing Leandro Trossard has scored eight times this season, though only one of them has come in Arsenal colours.
While Arteta has a settled selection of players, Guardiola has anything but as the Man City gaffer continues tinkering and experimenting week in, week out.
The four-time Premier League winner has drafted a different XI in each of his side's six league games this year. Guardiola has particularly shuffled around his defence, with no identical backline in any of those six matches.
Only Ederson, Rodri and Erling Haaland have started all six league meetings in 2023.
Haaland remains the league's top scorer with 25 goals, albeit the Norway international was cautiously substituted at half-time against Aston Villa at the weekend.
Since the World Cup, Arsenal have collected 14 points from a possible 21, meanwhile Man City have picked up 16 points out of 24 on offer.
Off the field of play, Man City were recently dealt a blow as the Premier League announced the club had breached in excess of 100 violations of the establishment's financial regulations.
The defending Premier League champions have reiterated their stance of being not guilty, and it is likely to be a lengthy legal process until any punishment is imposed on the Abu Dhabi-owned club.
City have stood firm and denied any wrongdoing but it is difficult to see the club wriggling out of this very serious predicament. Punishment could range from points deductions to transfer embargoes or potential expulsion from the Premier League.