HomeSportsArsenal's game against Manchester City, not title decider - Arteta

Arsenal’s game against Manchester City, not title decider – Arteta

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta insists his team’s trip to face Manchester City on Wednesday is not a Premier League title decider, but concedes his side now have to be perfect in order to stay top of the table.

Both teams go into their potential Premier League title decider on long unbeaten runs but with momentum perhaps swinging towards Manchester City.

League leaders Arsenal are five points above Pep Guardiola’s side before Wednesday’s match at Etihad Stadium.

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However, City have two games in hand on the Gunners who have drawn three league matches in succession.

Arsenal are on a run of three dramatic draws in succession, and with questions being asked over their nerve in the run-in.

Arsenal led 2-0 early on against both Liverpool and West Ham, only to be pegged back and draw 2-2. Against Southampton, by contrast, they trailed 2-0 and 3-1 before scoring twice in the last three minutes to salvage a 3-3 draw.

They had won seven straight league games previously, including three in a row by three-goal margins, giving them 24 points from a possible 30.

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That run was interrupted by a Europa League exit on penalties to Sporting Lisbon, drawing both legs of the last-16 tie, but they remain unbeaten in 10 league games – one more than City, and scoring three goals or more in seven of those games – and 12 in all competitions.

City are unbeaten in 16 games in all competitions since losing to Tottenham in early February, with 13 wins and three draws in that run.

The only team to take a point off them in the league in that time are, remarkably, relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest, who claimed a 1-1 draw in February courtesy of Chris Wood’s late equaliser. City have won their other eight league games in that run, earning 25 points out of the last 27 available.

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“If we win tomorrow night we haven’t won the league, that’s for sure. It will shift the percentages a little bit, but with five games left after this, it will still be very tricky”, Arteta said.

“We wanted to close that gap as much as we could and we’re toe-to-toe with them. We knew we had to go to the Etihad. Is it going to define the season? The answer is no.

“Mentality plays a huge part. Obviously, the belief is there. When I look at how they train and the way they’ve reacted, the mood in the dressing room and the way they defend each other, we really want it.

“We’re going to show that again tomorrow night. But we have to deliver in the right moment with the right performance and it has to be perfection because that’s what this last level demands – absolute perfection.”

On City’s current form, the Arsenal manager said, “They’ve been in this incredible form but if you look at the table, it shows we have been too.

“It’s going to be a tough night and challenge, but the opportunity is an incredible one for us. We have to go to Man City and we have to beat them. If we want to be champions, we have to win these matches. It’s as simple as that.”

Arteta has confirmed that defender William Saliba will not be fit to face City due to his ongoing back problems which is likely to also rule him out of facing Chelsea at the weekend.

Midfielder Granit Xhaka, who missed Arsenal’s draw with Southampton, is also a doubt but was set to train on Tuesday while Arteta confirmed there were no other injury concerns.

Alfred Saiki
Alfred Saiki
A passionate sports journalist and administrator. I want to see the world.