Facing a newly-promoted side on the opening day, the Gunners swept Fulham aside with ease, winning 3-0 with goals from Alexandre Lacazette, Gabriel Magalhaes and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Hammers provided a more stern task at Emirates Stadium but goals from Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah saw them over the line.
“I think we were a little bit lucky in certain moments for sure. But as well, we find a way to win it and it’s the mentality I want that the team always believes that we can do it up until the last moment,” Mikel Arteta said after the game.
“Even if we have difficult games when we suffer, we make it difficult for ourselves in certain periods, but in the end it’s three points. This is why we are here. As well, take some big notes because there are a lot of things to improve.”
With focus now on improving on the disappointing West Ham performance, the Spaniard will be keen to use the game against the Foxes to build momentum for the upcoming Premier League visit to Anfield.
Here are some of the things we noticed in the Gunners’ latest training session at London Colney heading into the game.
Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi involved
Post-lockdown football has been tough on both Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi.
For Ozil, he has not played a single minute of first team football since the restart in June. The 31-year-old was involved in friendlies beforehand as well as in a behind closed doors friendly against Aston Villa before the 2020/21 season got underway but has remained absent from the matchday squad.
When Arteta was asked about Ozil most recently on September 18, he reverted attention to the entire team, saying: “I think they have all been training really, really well and the spirit at the training ground is great and we are happy because everyone is pushing each other, so let’s try to maintain that.”
Considering points won’t be up for grabs, the Carabao Cup may give Arteta the opportunity to bring the midfielder back into the squad.
The same could be said for Guendouzi, who has not featured in a matchday squad since the 2-1 loss at Brighton which ended in an outburst towards Neal Maupay from the young Frenchman. He too has returned to first team training this season and Arteta hasn’t closed the door on a potential return for him.
“Matteo has been training like any other player in the squad. It is a new season and we had some really positive conversations between both parties, now he’s back with the group, he is training really well, he went to France to play with the under-21s last week and played really well again, and he is here.” he said on September 11.
William Saliba back with the first team
Despite the excitement surrounding William Saliba, Arteta has held off handing the young Frenchman his competitive debut as of yet, but Leicester could present the chance he’s been waiting for.
Saliba featured in friendlies against MK Dons and Aston Villa and most recently for the Under-23s in their 2-2 draw with Brighton on Friday [September 18]. This meant he didn’t play for the first team in their 2-1 win over West Ham the following night.
Although Arteta won’t set out to lose at the King Power Stadium, not having the pressure that comes with league football could help ease Saliba into the Arsenal first team picture, and him training with the first team provides promise for that possibility.
In the pictures released from London Colney, there were no Under-23s players shown. That isn’t to say none were involved but none being pictured would suggest Arteta is going to name a relatively strong squad, even if there is rotation.
Keeping the core of his side the same in the opening two Premier League games, this will offer a chance for players in need of minutes to get them in abundance. Alongside Ozil, Guendouzi and Saliba, first team figures like Nicolas Pepe, Reiss Nelson, and Joe Willock were also involved.
As expected, Kieran Tierney wasn’t involved and won’t feature against Leicester, it has been confirmed by Arsenal.
Lucas Torreira with the team
At the start of his third season at the club, Lucas Torreira is yet to feature for Arsenal this season.
Reports linking him with a move away from the club have become more frequent as the transfer deadline approaches but the Uruguayan remains present for the Leicester game.
He hasn’t featured in a matchday squad since the FA Cup final in August so if Arteta is looking to ease Torreira back in, this may be his best opportunity.
Runar Alex Runarsson involved
Announced as an Arsenal player on September 21, Runar Alex Runarsson was pictured being put through his paces at London Colney by Inaki Cana.
The goalkeeper was also pictured training on Tuesday [September 22] which may open the possibility of a debut away at Leicester. Despite this, Arteta may look to the fixture to give Bernd Leno an opportunity to build consistency ahead of a difficult run in the Premier League.
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Having worked with Cana before, the reunion is something Runarsson was looking forward to.
“Our relationship, since we got to know each other four years ago, has been very good,” he said upon signing. “We have always been in contact even though I was playing in France and he was coaching here in England.
“The fact that he is here, it is very important to me that I know somebody here and I know that he knows my qualities, and what I need to improve and what I can bring to the club. I think we will be a very good match, for the second time in my career!”