Arsenal’s dominant 5-0 victory over Norwich on Boxing Day took their winning run in all competitions to five games but the biggest test to their recent form will come against Manchester City.
Mikel Arteta’s side have enjoyed the comeback of the season in recent weeks after beginning the season with the worst start in their 118-year history.
The Gunners suffered defeats in their three opening games of the Premier League, including a 5-0 mauling by City, and sunk to rock bottom of the table after failing to score a single goal.
Arsenal have enjoyed a resurgent run of form, wrapped up with a 5-0 win over Norwich
But Arsenal have bounced back with a 2-0 win over West Ham in December seeing them leapfrog the Hammers to creep into the top four.
However, the north London side’s resurgence will face a huge challenge on New Year’s Day as the Emirates plays host to their league clash against leaders City.
Despite, a promising run of form in December, the Gunners wobbled against Manchester United with a 3-2 defeat and stumbled against an under-fire Everton after conceding a last-gasp winner from Demarai Gray at the beginning of the month.
But they will take some confidence into Saturday’s fixture after bouncing back from the defeats to win their last four league games.
Most notably, their recent dominant victories have come in the midst of turmoil at the club after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was stripped of the captaincy following a ‘disciplinary breach’.
But the Gunners face an additional strain against City as they head into the clash without boss Arteta who tested positive for Covid-19 this week.
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta (left) will miss the clash against Manchester City due to Covid-19
Arsenal’s first-team have survived the Premier League’s Covid surge largely unscathed in recent weeks, aside from a handful of positive tests, but Arteta is not alone in being ruled out for the game as other key members of his backroom staff have also tested positive, according to The Telegraph.
They have been dealt a major blow ahead of the weekend as a skeleton coaching staff will be an understandable concern.
Arsenal will hope their recent success under pressure will have prepared them to replicate it against table-toppers City, but their record against stronger competition this season does not hold much promise.
Arteta’s side had been enjoying a similar positive run of form, having been unbeaten in the league since defeat to City in matchday three, ahead of their trip to Anfield.
Arsenal slumped to a 4-0 defeat by Liverpool after a string of victories in November
Mohamed Salah (left) scores Liverpool’s third goal as the Reds ran riot at Anfield
But they slumped to defeat on Merseyside as Liverpool ran riot to put four past the visitors.
Arsenal also stumbled against tougher rivals earlier in the season when they slipped to a 2-0 defeat by London rivals Chelsea, who currently sit second , and, of course, floundered in their first meeting with City.
Their record against the Premier League’s reigning champions since Arteta took charge could not be further from encouraging.
The Gunners have won just once in six meetings against Pep Guardiola since Arteta left his role as the City boss’s sidekick, with the victory coming in the FA Cup semi-final in 2020.
Arsenal last beat league leaders City in their FA Cup semi-final tie in 2020 with a 2-0 win
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (right) scored the Gunners’ second to secure the victory
The last time Arsenal beat City in the league was in December 2015 with a 2-1 win and they have only scraped a point in two games since then.
However, the Emirates has become a fortress this season which could withstand City’s bombardment, as evidenced by Arsenal’s win over top four rivals West Ham.
Arsenal have lost just once at the Emirates all season – to Chelsea back in August.
And they owe a lot of their recent success to the manager’s faith in his firing young Gunners.
Bukayo Saka, 20, and Emile Smith Rowe, 21, were on target against Norwich, while the duo also found the back of the net alongside Gabriel Martinelli, 20, in the 4-1 win over Leeds.
Bukayo Saka was in firing form as he bagged a brace in Arsenal’s recent victory again Norwich
It means that 17 of Arsenal’s 32 Premier League goals this season have been scored by players 21 or under – more than any other top-flight club in 2021-22.
But City present a great goalscoring challenge and also find themselves in firing form.
The Citizens head to the Emirates on the back of a ten-game winning run and have racked up a total of 51 goals so far, scoring four or more goals in six league games this term.
Guardiola’s side have also only conceded 12 goals in their plight to maintain their Premier League crown, keeping 12 clean sheets.
Arsenal’s resurgent run merits a big scalp to top off their results but despite appearing dominant in their recent games the clash with City still very much echoes David and Goliath.
City head to the Emirates on the back of a 10-game winning run, thanks to Phil Foden’s (above) winner against Brentford