ARSENAL finally got their first win of the season by trouncing West Brom 6-0 in the League Cup on Wednesday evening.
Under-fire manager Mikel Arteta isn't out of the woods yet, though, and faces a near impossible trip to Manchester City on Saturday.
It might even beyong Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise —who is in the UK currently filming scenes for Mission: Impossible 7
Even getting a point at the Etihad is an immeasurably greater challenge than drubbing a Championship team's youth squad.
Looking at the teem sheet at the Hawthorns, there were few familiar names in the Baggies XI as boss Valerin Ismael handed out five debuts.
One of the newcomers was Caleb Taylor – the son of Martin, the Birmingham player that broke Eduardo’s leg in 2008 – proving how young Arsenal’s opposition were.
The Gunners needed to beat West Brom and, although they can take confidence from the result, still need to do a lot more to turn the tide.
Arteta's side shouldn't have given their youthful opponents a sniff at goal but did, with Aaron Ramsdale forced into three saves on debut.
Their back four of Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Sead Kolasinac and Nuno Tavares failed to reassure against the novices.
Arsenal do have players to come back into the defence – but are they good enough to contain Pep Guardiola’s champions?
Ben White is in a race to be fit after contracting coronavirus and Gabriel is unlikely to feature as he continues to recover from a knee injury.
Kieran Tierney should return to the side and Hector Bellerin may make a timely comeback from a thigh problem – giving Arteta some welcomed selection choices.
Perhaps Arsenal’s biggest worry is Pablo Mari, who was bullied by Romelu Lukaku and his Chelsea team-mates in his last outing.
City's lack of a traditional No9 may help the Spanish defender but he still needs to buck his ideas up – and fast – if he’s to succeed in England.
There are also question marks about Martin Odegaard, who looked weak against West Brom during his second debut.
If the Norwegian star can’t handle a bunch of inexperienced kids, he will be in for the shock of his life when he lines up against Fernandinho.
Odegaard’s flick to assist Bukayo Saka’s goal was delightful and he clearly has the talent – but City might just be a game too early as he continues to get up to speed.
The return of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang offers Gunners fans a glimmer of hope after he showed why he’s still one of the best strikers in England at the Hawthorns.
The skipper scored a superb hat-trick against the Baggies, positioning himself expertly for his two tap-ins before hitting a stunning third.
Aubameyang looks hungry and ready to prove a point after a quiet campaign last term, scoring just ten Premier League goals.
Arteta, as City's former assistant, knows what it takes to match the Guardiola's domineering side and has tasked his players to stand up to the challenge.
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The Gunners boss told the press: "It is the level of the game that you have to be mentally ready to run for long periods of the game without touching the ball.
"To make the sacrifices, being prepared to suffer in the right moments.
"But as well it is having the conviction that we're going to have our moments in the game, and when those opportunities arise, we have to take them.
"That's how I want to see the team, they are fully committed, fully prepared and they believe that we can go to Manchester and get the result.”
But whether Arteta’s players have the ability and confidence to achieve their first point – and whether he has the tactical nous – remains to be seen.
Nothing is impossible in football – but Arsenal’s pursuit of success at the Etihad certainly feels that way.
- Illustration by Lovatto
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