Mikel Arteta is set to face his former mentor Pep Guardiola when Arsenal face Manchester City on Saturday afternoon | Pool/Getty Images

The third instalment of ‘Master vs Apprentice’ in the space of four months is set to take place when Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal travel to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City on Saturday afternoon.

After being dismantled on his first return to the Etihad at the beginning of Project Restart, Arteta steered Arsenal to the FA Cup final at the expense of his former employers with a 2-0 victory in the last four. That win ended a run of seven consecutive losses for Arsenal against City, although six of these were inflicted while Arteta sat on the bench of the other dugout.

Saturday’s contest pits two men with similar footballing ideals but rather different depths of quality among their ranks against one another. So, who can Arteta pick to bridge that gap as best as he can?

Gabriel Magalhaes
Gabriel Magalhães has scarcely put a foot wrong in the very early stages of his Arsenal career | Julian Finney/Getty Images

Bernd Leno (GK) – While Emi Martínez rapidly endears himself to Aston Villa’s fanbase, Leno has reclaimed his status as Arsenal’s undisputed number one.

Rob Holding (CB) – Having been on the brink of a loan to Newcastle, Holding has grabbed his chance with both hands, starting all but one of Arsenal’s seven fixtures so far.

David Luiz (CB) – The full range of David Luiz was on display in his last two outings against Manchester City. From blunders in June to brilliance in July, the lottery that is Luiz will be spun once more on Saturday.

Gabriel Magalhães (CB) – Aside from an early piece of confusion with Leno on his debut, Gabriel has hardly put a foot wrong for the Gunners and is yet to taste defeat in any of his four outings.

Héctor Bellerín (RWB) – Despite sustained interest, neither Paris Saint-Germain or Barcelona were able to meet Arsenal’s asking price for their fleet-footed full back who is gradually returning to the electric form he has struggled to rediscover after a serious knee injury in 2019.

Dani Ceballos (CM) – Arguably Arsenal’s best signing of the summer – even if it was only a loan – offers a layer of creativity and control few other, if any, midfielders in the squad can boast.

Thomas Partey (CM) – The self-styled ‘Octopus’ will need all eight metaphorical tentacles if he is to contain the rapid interchanging of passes Manchester City will inevitably attempt.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles (LWB) – Arsenal’s academy graduate was a constant outlet on the left-hand side in last season’s semi final against City, thriving in a hybrid wing back role which gave him plenty of license to plough forward.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (left) and Alexandre Lacazette (right) have largely translated their friendship off the pitch on it | Alex Morton/Getty Images

Willian (RW) – The Brazilian’s signing may have hinted that Arsenal are yet to learn their lesson about the pitfalls when tying a 30-plus flair player down to a lengthy deal. However, in his nascent Arsenal career, Willian has offered industry and creativity hovering infield from the right flank.

Alexandre Lacazette (ST) – The shout of ‘Laca!’ is one which often rings around the empty grounds Arsenal play in of late. Yet, rather than an admonishment, Arteta appears to merely be offering encouragement to his hard-pressing forward who already has three goals in three starts this season.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (LW) – The inclusion of Arsenal’s captain – from minute one to 90 – is an inevitability for league fixtures. However, Aubameyang is yet to score since signing his long-awaited contract extension, a drought of more than five hours of Premier League football which could come to an end on Saturday.



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