The professor meets the protege at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday lunchtime, as Manchester City take on Arsenal in gameweek three of the 2021-22 Premier League season.
Both sides recorded crushing victories in their most recent encounters, with City easing to a 5-0 success over Norwich City, while the Gunners thrashed West Bromwich Albion 6-0 in the EFL Cup.
Harry Kane off, Cristiano Ronaldo on? Manchester City’s lengthy pursuit of the England captain has failed to bear fruit following confirmation that he will be staying put at Tottenham Hotspur, but Pep Guardiola’s side are now being tipped to move for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner in the coming days.
However, if last week’s performance against Norwich was anything to go by, City seldom need more attacking options in their ranks, as goals from Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Aymeric Laporte and an own goal from Tim Krul propelled them to a straightforward 5-0 win over Norwich last time out.
Having recovered from their Community Shield defeat to Leicester City and opening-day loss to Tottenham Hotspur, the reigning champions recorded their second consecutive 5-0 Premier League win on home soil following last year’s final-day drubbing of Everton, but Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea remain above Guardiola’s men for the time being.
Furthermore, this weekend’s hosts have only failed to score in one of their last 35 Premier League matches at the Etihad Stadium – an astonishing streak which is unlikely to end no matter who leads the line out of Kane, Ronaldo or Gabriel Jesus.
Of course, a crushing win over Arsenal would allow the Citizens to temporarily reclaim their rightful place at the top of the standings, and given their opponents’ recent performances, Arteta is a long way off emulating his former teacher Guardiola.
Granted, Arsenal’s double-figure absentee list was hardly ideal for the visit of European champions Chelsea, as Arteta’s men sought to right the wrongs of their dismal opening-day defeat to Brentford in front of their own fans.
However, the game panned out in the way that many Gooners feared – with Romelu Lukaku bullying his way through the Arsenal defence to score the opener – while Reece James put the game out of sight before the half-time whistle blew.
Having supposedly been given only another few games to save his job in the Emirates dugout, Arteta’s intention to lay down a marker in the EFL Cup was clear, as a strong Gunners XI thrashed a youthful-looking West Bromwich Albion side 6-0 in Wednesday’s second-round clash.
While that result did give the travelling Arsenal party something to cheer, celebratory moments have been few and far between in the Premier League, although they did embark on a seven-game unbeaten run away from home before suffering defeat against Brentford.
Not since the 1954-55 season have Arsenal lost their first three games in a top-flight season, but if they are to avoid a similar fate here, Arteta’s men must emulate the FA Cup-winning squad from 2019-20, which sent City packing 2-0 in the semi-finals.
While their record on the Wembley turf is unparalleled, Arsenal have not endured such fortunes at the Etihad Stadium, as they have lost their last five league games away to Guardiola’s men and have won just one of their last 10 in the blue side of Manchester.
City are definitely without the services of Phil Foden until after the international break, while Kevin De Bruyne was not able to train before the win over Norwich and remains a doubt for the visit of Arsenal.
Sterling and Mahrez ought to be recalled to the side after finding the back of the net off the bench against Norwich, which could push Jack Grealish into a deeper role as wantaway midfielder Bernardo Silva drops out.
After struggling to displace John Stones for large portions of the 2020-21 season, Laporte should keep his place alongside Ruben Dias while his English counterpart continues to build up his match fitness.
Arsenal have welcomed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette back from COVID-19 infection recently, but Arteta does not expect Ben White to make it in time, while Willian and Alex Runarsson remain doubtful but would not have started anyway.
Martin Odegaard’s visa was sorted in time for him to play an hour against West Brom, and his inclusion should shift Emile Smith Rowe out to the left-hand side while Bukayo Saka – assuming he can shake off a knee scare – features on the right.
Thomas Partey’s absence should see Albert Sambi Lokonga handed a start on the champions’ turf, while Gabriel Magalhaes is back in training but is not expected to return to action just yet, meaning that the Pablo Mari-Rob Holding partnership should resume.
Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo; Rodri, Gundogan, Grealish; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling
Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Leno; Cedric, Holding, Mari, Tierney; Xhaka, Lokonga; Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Aubameyang