Arsenal doesn’t have too long to dwell on dropping points against Brentford as they welcome Manchester City to the Emirates Stadium in a huge Premier League fixture on Wednesday night.
It’s top vs second. Mikel Arteta vs Pep Guardiola. Student vs the master in a game that could have a major say as to where the Premier League trophy ends up in May and it’s important the Gunners manager, in particular, gets his team selection spot on to arrest a recent dip in form.
Ironically, the Spaniard did rotate for the FA Cup fourth-round meeting between the two sides a few weeks ago and there’s a strong argument that the 1-0 loss at the Etihad Stadium has disrupted Arsenal’s momentum, especially having gone into the tie after recording successive wins over Tottenham and Manchester United.
With that said, the defeat at Everton as well as the 1-1 draw with Brentford will largely be all forgotten if the north London outfit can record a victory over Man City outside of a cup competition for the first time since December 2015 when Arteta was still a player – although he missed out on the matchday squad that night.
Now, in truth, Arteta hasn’t often made too many changes with regard to his Arsenal starting line-up in the Premier League so far this season. On the rare occasion when every senior player has been available for selection, it’s become easy to predict what the 40-year-old will do.
In addition, the fact he opted against freshening things up for the Brentford fixture could be an indication that he will go with his strongest available side on Wednesday night with the likes of Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Thomas Partey, and Bukayo Saka all starting.
However, Leandro Trossard has given the Spanish tactician some food for thought. Aside from his goalscoring impact from the bench at the weekend, the £21m signing in the January transfer window has looked bright when given an opportunity and did pose problems for Man City in the FA Cup tie.
Should the Belgian international be handed his first league start for Arsenal since arriving from Brighton & Hove Albion, it could lead to Gabriel Martinelli paying the ultimate price for a slight dip in form recently by being dropped from the starting line-up.
“I think every player has his moment,” Arteta said about the Brazilian after the Brentford game. “We have moved today Gabi for Leo because Leo in those spaces is so good and so composed. He’s constantly faking movements and playing forward. He’s got a great smell for where the ball is going to land and we believe it was the right choice to bring him on.”
Elsewhere, the only other realistic changes that Arteta could be contemplating for the Man City game is with regard to his options on the bench. Of course, Gabriel Jesus is unlikely to face his former club despite making good progress following knee surgery, but Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith Rowe might be in contention.
The Hale End graduates both trained ahead of the Brentford game having been deemed “not ready yet to contribute” by the Arsenal manager. An update on their progress should be forthcoming with Arteta due to speak to the media this week and considering Nelson has been back longer could mean he is closest to returning to the matchday squad and possibly at the expense of wunderkind Amario Cozier-Duberry