Arsenal succumbed to a narrow 1-0 defeat against Manchester City on Saturday.
The Gunners conceded the only goal of the game on 23 minutes when Phil Foden’s effort was fumbled by Bernd Leno and Raheem Sterling struck the rebound past Arsenal’s German goalkeeper.
While manager Mikel Arteta will be disappointed to lose against the club he was assistant manager of for four years, he’s also likely to be concerned about the club’s long-term miserable run of away results against ‘top six’ sides.
With Arsenal failing to win a match in their last 29 meetings at top six teams, Arteta will need to find a solution as he seeks to secure European qualification this season.
football.london take a look at some of the talking points from the defeat at the Etihad Stadium below.
The creativity issue strikes again
Thomas Partey was the deadline day signing that caused an explosion of happiness among Arsenal fans on social media.
The pursuit was a long-running one and there is no doubt that the Ghana international will add crucial qualities to the Gunners midfield, but there can be no getting away from the fact that Arteta also wanted to sign Houssem Aouar in the summer.
An inability to create ample chances in the final third. The void of a true creative player in the Arsenal team was made more evident against City with Dani Ceballos struggling to take hold of the game.
Some supporters have called for the return of Mesut Ozil to the team but there is no chance of that happening anytime soon. Arteta and Unai Emery before him both gave the German ample opportunities to turn things around and it’s clear that Arteta would rather favour an up and coming academy player – a la Matt Smith in the FA Cup final – over the former Real Madrid man who turned 32 earlier in the week.
Aouar is a transfer which Arsenal will have to patiently wait for now. January appears difficult with regards to finances but a move for the Frenchman next summer may be required if the problem of creating chances in the final third doesn’t get solved before then.
Bukayo Saka will become one of the best
Saka completed more take-ons in the first half (3) than the entire Man City team combined (2) and seems to get better with every game he plays.
Having made his England national team debut alongside team-mate Ainsley Maitland-Niles in the 3-0 friendly win over Wales, the 19-year-old would have come back to domestic duties full of confidence.
Wherever Saka plays on the pitch he always delivers. Arsenal do lack a creative player in the final third and Saka’s courageous runs into the City half show that no opponent fazes him.
Being named on the 20-man shortlist for the coveted Golden Boy award is only the start of what will be a fruitful career for the prodigious youngster.
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Holding injury inevitable with packed fixture list ahead
Rob Holding was omitted from the line-up late on and replaced by David Luiz after suffering a hamstring injury in the warm-up.
Arteta’s side are facing a packed schedule of games both domestically and in Europe, meaning more injuries are inevitable later down the line.
Pablo Mari is expected to return to training in the next fortnight, while Calum Chambers is back in training too.
However, the incessant nature of top level football means that squad rotation will be a crucial part of keeping the squad fit and healthy over the coming weeks and months.