Arsenal’s manager Arteta suffered a harsh return to the Etihad as the Gunners lost 3-0 to City, but eyebrows must have been raised around the country when the away side presented their lineup.
Joe Willock, 20, and Eddie Nketiah, 21, both found their way into the starting eleven, ahead of considerably more established names Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette.
Arteta has since claimed that Ozil was left out of the squad due to tactical reasons, but the World Cup winner’s absence was notable yesterday – Arsenal significantly struggled to link the midfield and attack, with no incisive offensive midfielder largely because Ceballos had to play deeper with the injury to Xhaka. Willock, who is rated rather highly, understandably struggled to keep pace with De Bruyne and Silva.
Arsenal’s attacking trio were quiet, but Nketiah did have a solid chance in the first 90 seconds of the game and squandered it over the bar.
Could Lacazette have done better? It is ultimately difficult to tell, and whilst Arsenal do have an exciting core of young players coming through, starting them away to Manchester City was perhaps one bold decision too many.
By Andrew Gamble