The Premier League title race is still very much on after Saturday’s match program that featured wins for both Arsenal and holding champions Manchester City, with friends and adversaries Mikel Arteta and Pep Guardiola continuing to square off in the technical area in the wake of their highly successful teacher-pupil relationship at the Etihad Stadium.
Arteta’s young Gunners outfit made it six points from six in the aftermath of a recent hiccup that saw them manage just one point across three league outings, including a 3-1 loss against City at the Emirates ten days ago, that had many Arsenal fans wondering if the engine began to putter as the north London giants continue to press forward toward the finish line.
But a blend of youthful exuberance and veteran know-how has helped the English giants rebound against former boss Unai Emery and Aston Villa last weekend before comfortably dispatching Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City at the KP Stadium this afternoon.
Once more it was one of Arteta’s bright youngsters to decisively get on the scoresheet after Gabriel Martinelli found the only goal of the match just after the halftime interval on a day when Arsenal was at their dominant best in a performance that invoked feelings of nostalgia as away fans sang “One ‘Nil to the Arsenal” around the ground before the full-time whistle.
Though the Brazilian international is credited as the match-winner for his effort, it was January signings Leandro Trossard and Jorginho that once again proved their worth since arriving at London Colney during a double Premier League winter window swoop that looks more and more likely to possibly ensure that the Gunners bring home their first league title in nearly two decades.
Trossard produced his best performance since his arrival from Brighton while showing off his tactical versatility after Arteta deployed the Belgian international as a number nine to give Eddie Nketiah a much-needed rest after England’s record goalscorer at youth level has been heavily relied on due to the absence of Gabriel Jesus.
Not only did the 28-year-old former KRC Genk forward score a blockbuster effort that was questionably ruled out, but his ability to interchange across the front three with both Martinelli and Bukayo Saka, was a much closer representation to what the club has been missing without Jesus. Additionally, Trossard’s desire to beat his man on the ball while also expertly turning provider for Martinelli’s goal showed why Arteta prized him away from the AMEX despite his reportedly falling out with Seagulls manager Roberto De Zerbi.
And then there is Jorginho; a signing so many Arsenal fans wanted to distance themselves from given the club’s move for Willian just a few seasons ago, while much of the fan dialogue around the move was the usual quip suggesting that Edu doesn’t know what he is doing after the Gunners were unable to extract Moisés Caicedo from Brighton’s clutches despite offering £80m.
Much like many signings from the last two summer windows, the veteran Italian international - and former Champions League, and *Euro 2020 winner - has settled quickly to the point where the absence of Thomas Partey has barely been lamented.
Jorginho was good against City despite the loss, but even more so, his performances against Villa and Leicester were superb in terms of his ability to recycle the ball, command and control possession and distribution, while also bringing his understanding of match flow to the fore to provide a credible shield ahead of Gabriel Magalhães and William Saliba.
Whether or not Arsenal are capable of withstanding the pressure City is sure to bring, especially with another league clash in late April, the January deals for Trossard and Jorginho show that Arteta and Edu have begun to master the art of opportunism without sacrificing their vision on the pitch.