How Arsenal’s signings from Man City boosted Gunners to title contention

How Arsenal’s signings from Man City boosted Gunners to title contention

12: 03 PM ET

  • dawson rob

    Rob DawsonCorrespondent

The joke doing the rounds on social media is that after making the Premier League look easy with four titles in five years, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has built himself a challenger by sending Mikel Arteta, Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko to Arsenal. With the former Man City assistant in charge and two former City title winners, Arsenal is at the top of the table. It looks more and more like a title charge every week. There is a long way to go, particularly for a team that haven’t been considered contenders for the best part of a decade, but it’s now 12 wins from 13 games in all competitions.

Arsenal and City would have met at the Emirates this week had it not been for Arsenal’s rearranged Europa League tie with PSV Eindhoven, but Guardiola doesn’t need to meet face-to-face to know that Arteta, Jesus and Zinchenko are a threat. He’s had enough.

“Arsenal has returned,” he stated last month. “I believe Arsenal are already there, after many [they] weren’t there for years. Mikel’s patience has made a huge difference in the club and the team. They are already a factor, and they are contenders. “

Arsenal’s decision to stick with Arteta — Guardiola’s No. 2 at City for 3 1/2 years — during occasional periods of fan unrest since his appointment in December 2019, and also spend nearly PS80 million on Jesus and Zinchenko in particular, has already been vindicated with their best start to a season since 1904-05. A team which was aiming to finish in the top four for the first time since 2016 has now set their sights much higher, and there are supporters dreaming of a first title since Arsene Wenger’s last in 2004.

It’s a club that, as Guardiola has pointed out, have not been that used to winning and although Zinchenko and Jesus weren’t the only summer signings — their total spend was close to PS120 million — it was important for Arteta to bring in players with experience of lifting trophies. Man City is the best place to be in Premier League terms.

” Jesus won eight domestic trophies at Etihad Stadium, including four Premier League titles. Zinchenko has a similar record. For City, however, the reasoning behind the decision to let two players join a top-six rival — even if they finished 24 points behind last season — is less obvious.

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Sources have told ESPN that Guardiola was keen to keep both Jesus and Zinchenko, but that they were handed moves because they wanted to play bigger roles at a different club — a position the City boss understood. Guardiola and Txiki Begiristain, director of football, would have known that they could decide immediately to move to another country if they wanted to leave City’s dominance in the Premier League. But they didn’t, and as well as allowing Jesus and Zinchenko to join Arsenal, they also sanctioned Raheem Sterling‘s move to Chelsea.

At one point Liverpool, City’s nearest challengers for the last five years, registered an interest in re-signing Sterling, but rather than immediately ruling out the prospect of strengthening Jurgen Klopp’s squad, City let it play out. In the end, Sterling chose to join Chelsea after positive conversations with new owner Todd Boehly and then manager Thomas Tuchel, but Guardiola and Begiristain weren’t phased by the possibility of the England winger lining up this season for their closest rivals.

The feeling was that City’s squad needed to be refreshed and, to do that, players had to leave as well as arrive. In financial terms, the money is often in England if you want to pay the highest possible fee for a player.

In the cases of Zinchenko, Sterling and Jesus, Guardiola insisted that he doesn’t want unhappy players in his team. Each player had a preference as to where they wanted to go, and Guardiola told them that if they could come up with a reasonable fee, they would be allowed move. Sources have informed ESPN that, despite Guardiola’s close relationship to Arteta and their pursuit of Jesus or Zinchenko, Arsenal did not receive any favors. Although there was interest from abroad and the Premier League in both players, Arsenal made the right offers and the transactions were quite smooth. Arsenal were happy with their signings, and City were happy to receive the money, especially for Jesus, who was close to the end of his contract.

Now is an Arsenal team that has a lot of City influence and are preparing to compete with City for the title. Arteta deserves the credit for creating a challenger, but Guardiola’s fingerprints are on them as well.

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