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Ian Wright has warned Arsenal that they are ‘not good’ at sitting back against teams and feels the likes of Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe will be vital in unlocking Manchester City’s solid defence this weekend. Mikel Arteta faces former mentor Pep Guardiola again when the Gunners host league leaders City at the Emirates on Sunday. City, who have conceded just 15 goals this season, secured their 12th successive Premier League victory as they beat Everton 3-1 on Wednesday night to move 10 points clear at the top of the table.
Arsenal, meanwhile, bounced back from successive defeats in the league with an impressive 4-2 win over Leeds last weekend in which captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted his first hat-trick in England’s top flight.
The Gabon international had plenty of quality service behind him with the likes of Saka, Smith Rowe and Real Madrid loanees Odegaard and Dani Ceballos all helping form a free-flowing Gunners attack.
Arteta’s side are in Europa League action in Rome on Thursday evening as they take on Benfica in the first leg of their last-32 clash.
After that, the north Londoners face in-form City, and Arsenal legend Wright has suggested his former side would be wise to adopt a positive approach, rather than sit deep and concede too much possession to their dangerous opponents.
‘[David] Luiz and Gabriel should start at the back because we need to get the ball through that midfield to them three [Odegaard, Saka and Smith Rowe],’ Wright told Ringer FC’s ‘Wrighty’s House’ podcast.
‘It doesn’t make sense to me that we’re going to have them three and then play in a system that we’re not going to get them on the ball to get the ball to Aubameyang.
‘We’ve seen Auba can cause them problems even though City at the moment are brilliant defensively.
‘If we’re not going to try get the ball through Ceballos and [Granit] Xhaka, or whoever it’s going to be, into Odegaard, Saka and Emile Smith Rowe to then start working their magic in that area, I can’t understand what else he’s [Arteta’s] going to do apart from wait for them to come and beat us up and we’re not good at that.
‘We should go there and take what we get in respects of positivity for those players; Saka, Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe playing against them [City] and impressing upon them their game.
‘Because what happens is, you come out of a game like that, whoever you’re playing next week it’s not going to be City, all of a sudden you feel, ‘I know the level I need to be’.
‘City is the place where you find your level and say, ‘that’s where I’m playing every week’.