Mikel Arteta urges Arsenal to savor ‘incredible opportunity’ at Manchester City

Mikel Arteta took on his Arsenal side to secure another impressive away win against peerless Premier League title challengers Manchester City.

The Gunners head to the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday five points clear of their nearest opponents at the top of the table, although Arteta played down suggestions of a winner-takes-all clash.

Having played two games more than City, anything other than a first away win against the champions since 2015 would put the title fate in the hands of Pep Guardiola’s side.

Pressure has mounted on Arteta and his young players after drawing in their last three games but the Gunners boss wants to see them thrive in the spotlight having already recorded some impressive away wins.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, left, and Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, left, and Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola

“It’s going to be a tough night and a challenge, yes, but the opportunity is incredible for us,” he said.

“We knew it from the start: you want to win a Premier League, you have to go to Spurs and you have to beat them, you have to go to Chelsea and you have to beat them.

“That’s what we did, that’s why we’re here and now we have to go to City and we have to beat them: you want to be champions, you have to win these games, it’s that simple. “

Arsenal will once again be without William Saliba as the French defender has shown “no improvement” in his recovery from a back injury, while Arteta also revealed Granit Xhaka is a doubt.

The Switzerland captain missed Friday’s frenetic 3-3 draw against Southampton with illness and is yet to return to training.

Granit Xhaka is a doubt for Arsenal

Granit Xhaka is a doubt for Arsenal

It remains to be seen whether Arteta, who won two league titles as Guardiola’s assistant at City before returning to a top job at Arsenal, reshuffles his pack in a bid to outsmart his former mentor.

But he insists his team is constantly changing the way they approach matches and that won’t change despite the challenge at hand.

“That’s what we do every game in certain areas,” he said. “Are you talking about ball possession, out of possession, in transition, restarts, set pieces, emotional state?

“You have to move it all the time. Each opponent demands and questions different things from you and offers you different opportunities.

“There’s no difference with that team (City), it’s just that obviously the quality of the opponent is as good as anywhere in the world.”

Arteta also refuted suggestions that the game was winner-takes-all in the title race, adding, “If we win tomorrow night we haven’t won, for sure.

“It would move the percentage a bit, but five games in this league with the games we still have to play, it’s very complicated.

“We knew from the beginning that City were the team to beat with Liverpool for what those teams have done in recent years. They fully deserve that credit and to be on top.

“We wanted to close the gap as much as possible and we are tiptoeing with them. We knew we had to go to the Etihad, we know we’ll have five more difficult games after that.

“We know it will be a huge game. Will it define the season? The answer is no.”

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