Progress

Despite Arsenal’s loss at Manchester City, it was another example of how the Gunners are making gradual progress under Mikel Arteta.

The classic statistic of the games away against the ‘big 6’ will always be highlighted. However, it is how Arsenal have closed the gap to remain competitive in these games that is telling.

Arsenal’s record against Manchester City at the Etihad and Liverpool at Anfield is very poor. What is noticeable though is how quickly the games would get away from the Gunners. Often turning the second half into a ‘damage control’ scenario.

The match on  Saturday showed that Arsenal are, piece by piece, building something that can challenge the top teams again. With Thomas Partey still to find his way into the setup after just over a day of training, quality is only expected to improve.

Chances missed

Despite Arsenal having the one of the most expensive front lines in the league, taking key chances has been an issue. Lacazette missed a big opportunity to make it 2-2 at Anfield and the Gunners ultimately rued that misfortune.

Then, at the Etihad, both Saka and Aubameyang could have equalised were it not for Ederson. The optimist would say that making these big chances in games is still a positive sign.

However, with these chances coming in games that Arsenal need to pick up points to show significant progress, Arteta will begin to question his attacking choices.

Tactically, strikers have become isolated in these fixtures for Arsenal. Aubameyang often finding himself alone and feeding off scraps. This time, Arteta decided to field Willian in a false 9 role. The Brazilian dropping deeper to try and connect play to the wide areas.

Lacazette has, ironically, made his living at Arsenal as a striker who drops deeper. Holding up the ball before linking up play. It has not been the same level as Olivier Giroud, but it has worked at times. Therefore, questions as to why the Frenchman was left on the bench for the lacklustre Willian should be rightly asked.

Eddie Nketiah, also left on the bench, broke the England under-21 scoring record but has yet to show regular goal-scoring form in the Premier League. As Arsenal transition their formation to a back 4, the striking role could prove the most key.

Sparks of hope

There were two key performers from the match who have brought hope to Arsenal’s upcoming run of games. Firstly, Bukayo Saka was arguably man of the match with his tenacious display. Quick feet, several successful take-ons and close to an equaliser. Where the now full England international fits will be an important quandary for Arteta.

Playing as a wing-back seemed ideal initially but it is clear that the youngsters attacking verve must be harnessed further forward. Saka, named on the shortlist for the Golden Boy award, represents a core group of exciting youth and a bright future in red and white.

At the other end, new boy Gabriel Magalhaes put on another commanding defensive display. With the signing of the Brazilian and Partey, Edu, Arsenal’s Technical Director, spoke of how the Gunners wanted physicality.

Sometimes outfought, Arsenal are beginning to look an intimidating side in the tunnel once again. Plus, a consistent centre-half has been a missing attribute in the Gunners’ side for a long time.

Arsenal now face league games against Leicester City and Manchester United. Two sides with their own issues at the season’s opening and will provide further indication as to the progress this Arsenal side has made.

See also: Exclusive: “He has the talent to develop into a real top class player.” Former Huddersfield Head of Football Operations heaps praise on Arsenal’s Smith-Rowe

Man City reportedly making good progress on Kevin De Bruyne contract


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Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 Everton FC 5 7 13
2 Liverpool FC 5 0 10
3 Aston Villa FC 3 9 9
4 Leicester City FC 4 5 9
5 Arsenal FC 4 3 9
6 Chelsea FC 5 4 8
7 Tottenham Hotspur FC 4 7 7
8 Leeds United 4 1 7
9 Newcastle United FC 4 1 7
10 Southampton FC 5 -1 7
11 West Ham United FC 4 4 6
12 Crystal Palace FC 4 -2 6
13 Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 4 -3 6
14 Manchester City FC 3 -1 4
15 Brighton & Hove Albion FC 4 -2 3
16 Manchester United FC 3 -6 3
17 West Bromwich Albion 4 -8 1
18 Burnley FC 3 -5 0
19 Sheffield United FC 4 -5 0
20 Fulham FC 4 -8 0
Player Team Goals
Calvert-Lewin, Dominic Everton FC 7
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur FC 6
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 6
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City FC 5
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United FC 4
Maupay, Neal Brighton & Hove Albion FC 4
Ings, Danny Southampton FC 4
Mane, Sadio Liverpool FC 4
Kane, Harry Tottenham Hotspur FC 3
Rodriguez, James Everton FC 3
Grealish, Jack Aston Villa FC 3
Jorginho Chelsea FC 3
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United FC 3
Watkins, Ollie Aston Villa FC 3
Lacazette, Alexandre Arsenal FC 3
Zaha, Wilfried Crystal Palace FC 3
Bamford, Patrick Leeds United 3
Bowen, Jarrod West Ham United FC 3
Rashford, Marcus Manchester United FC 2
Sterling, Raheem Manchester City FC 2

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