Mikel Arteta stated, “The most important thing is how we are tomorrow.” The Arsenal manager has repeated the mantra throughout the season, but after Wednesday’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester City, it felt more timely than ever.” The focus immediately shifts to what comes next after the bitter disappointment of losing the top spot, which allowed Pep Guardiola’s defending champions to regain the initiative in the title race. Aston Villa is waiting, and the turnaround is quick.
In his press conference on Wednesday night, Arteta mentioned the “marathon” that is still to come. There is still a long way to go psychologically,” he stated. However, he will privately acknowledge the potential significance of Arsenal’s response at Villa Park. A victory would restore City’s three-point lead at the top of the table and put more pressure on them before their match against Nottingham Forest. The alarm bells would ring even louder if Arsenal’s winless streak were extended to four Premier League games.
The three defeats before Saturday’s trip to Villa Park can be easily explained on their own. In Everton, Arsenal faced a team buoyed by a new manager at a stadium where they had lost three of their previous four games and not scored three goals since 2017. They faced Brentford, a team on a nine-game unbeaten streak who have beaten all five of the big six this season. Manchester City is a team that can punish any opponent when they are at their clinical, suffocating best, as they were in the second half of Wednesday’s game at the Emirates Stadium. They did not even take into account the role that VAR played in the 1-1 draw.
However, taken as a whole, the outcomes constitute a significant blip. You can’t try to pretend otherwise. Three Premier League games have cost Arsenal more points than the previous 19 games. Given that the turnaround time to Saturday’s early kickoff is only about 60 hours, fatigue has been one of the clear themes in those three games.
Given the sheer volume of games that Arteta’s regular starters have played this season, it is not surprising that they are getting tired. The fewest number of lineup changes in the division is 16 for Arsenal. In contrast, Manchester City has made 54, ranking fourth. The Premier League tracking data highlights the difference in freshness as a result.
Only once in the first five games following the World Cup break and only five times in the previous 14 games did Arsenal’s opponents outrun them by more than 3 kilometers in each of the last three games.
The difference in intensity was especially evident in the second half against City when Arsenal labored badly and appeared to be depleted from their efforts in the first half. However, City pushed them back and kept them there, making the hosts unable to recover. Both the physical and mental effects of fatigue are being felt.
A lack of sharpness on one end, both in terms of creating opportunities and finishing them. On the other hand, a collective lack of focus is leading to unusual defensive mistakes like the ones that cost the City so much money.
After making some promising appearances since joining the team from Brighton in January, Leandro Trossard appears to be an obvious replacement for Gabriel Martinelli on the left flank. Jorginho has demonstrated that he can fill in for the injured Thomas Partey without sacrificing any of his qualities. However, his options are limited beyond that. Right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu can be replaced by Ben White, but Fabio Vieira and Reiss Nelson, who has just returned to fitness, appear to only be options from the bench. Kieran Tierney lacks Oleksandr Zinchenko’s ability to tuck into the middle of the field, and Jakub Kiwior, the £20 million center-back signed from Spezia, is still figuring out how to fit in.
While the Brazilian’s finishing was inconsistent in the first half of the season, his overall impact on Arsenal’s attack was significant. His movement, which involved dropping deep and pulling wide to create space for teammates to exploit, disrupted opposition defenses. Although Eddie Nketiah deserves credit for how he has deputized, he has failed to score in four games after scoring seven goals in seven games across all competitions.
His missed opportunities against City showed a lack of confidence, and Arsenal’s collective threat has also declined. They only averaged 1.10 expected goals per game against Everton, Brentford, and City, excluding penalties, according to the underlying data, down from 1.97 expected goals per game earlier this season. Because of his creative abilities and the fact that he was Arsenal’s second-highest scorer in the Premier League last season with ten goals, Emile Smith Rowe’s continued injury-related absence is another offensive problem. Additionally, he can play anywhere on the front line.
Even more concerning is the fact that Arsenal’s recent dip has revealed defensive flaws.
In addition to their lower attack productivity, they are giving up more chances to their opponents at the other end of the field, both in terms of quantity and quality. Earlier this season, William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes formed a formidable center-back pairing, but opponents will have noticed how a direct approach has upset them in recent games.
Ivan Toney and Dominic Calvert-Lewin physically dominated them for Brentford and Everton, and Erling Haaland did the same on Wednesday night. Even though Tomiyasu was to blame for City’s first goal, Ederson’s long kick allowed the Norwegian, who beat Saliba in an aerial duel.
Don’t be surprised if Jhon Duran, a towering striker who signed from Chigaco Fire in January and impressed off the bench in Aston Villa’s 3-1 loss at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, gets a first start under the meticulous Unai Emery, whose opposition analysis is legendary.
The Colombian would be a tough test for Saliba and Gabriel again, but the trip to Villa Park looks like a tough challenge regardless of the opposition’s players because of Arsenal’s three-game skid, despite how good they have been this season. Arteta must rely on Arsenal to be prepared. The marathon’s next section is coming up.
After losing to Manchester City 3-1, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has turned his attention to Aston Villa, who will face his team next. Arsenal’s winless streak could be extended to four Premier League games if they lose. The last three games have been a significant blip for Arsenal and have highlighted their players’ fatigue. The team has the fewest lineup changes in the Premier League, whereas Manchester City has the fourth-most. As a result, Arsenal’s opponents outran them in three games, indicating a significant difference in freshness. Arsenal’s recent form has also revealed some defensive flaws, giving up more chances to their opponents.