Arsenal

'The Mood Is Really High At Arsenal' – The Test Ahead For City

Leicester City will come up against an Arsenal side riding a wave of early-season enthusiasm at Emirates Stadium on Saturday, says Simon Collings, from the London Evening Standard.

- London Evening Standard journalist Simon Collings provides the lowdown on Arsenal
- Leicester City face the Gunners in the Premier League at Emirates Stadium on Saturday (3pm kick-off)
- Collings believes there is a swell of optimism around the north London club this summer 
- Live coverage of the game begins at 2pm on LCFC Radio, with a host of Foxes legends on the show

Summer business including the arrivals of Fábio Vieira, Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko in north London has excited Gunners supporters, before a comfortable 2-0 success at Crystal Palace on the opening day of the new Premier League campaign.

Under Mikel Arteta this term, many pundits believe Arsenal represent genuine contenders for UEFA Champions League qualification in 2022/23. On Saturday the 13-time English champions entertain Leicester City at Emirates Stadium in a 3pm kick-off – live on LCFC Radio from 2pm.

"Chatting to people at the club and the supporters, they are trying to remember the last time they went into a season so excited and optimistic," Collings, a regular reporter at Emirates Stadium, said this week. "A lot of that is down to how Arsenal have been in the transfer market.

"I think the fans are expecting three points and that’ll be what Arteta is aiming for as well. I sometimes think, with a team like Leicester, it might suit them a bit that Arsenal will want to come on and attack them.

"Countless times we’ve seen Arsenal play Leicester and Jamie Vardy has caused them so many problems. That’s something Arsenal will need be wary of – being too gung-ho and being hit on the counter attack.

"The atmosphere at the Emirates last season was about as good as it’s been for a fair few years. The connection between the supporters is there and they’ll want Arsenal to go at Leicester from the off."

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Gabriel Jesus
Gabriel Jesus

Former Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus has added firepower to Arsenal's attacking options.

A positive window in the transfer market only swells that excitement further and Arsenal fans will be looking for an improvement on their fifth-placed finish last term. Collings believes it's been a 'really successful summer' for the Gunners, which bodes well for the season as a whole.

He added: "They’ve been incredibly proactive and, before the window began, everyone said they need to get a striker in, and they need competition at left-back for Kieran Tierney and both of those boxes were ticked pretty swiftly.

"It was a really big summer. Particularly after missing out on Champions League football, there was some uncertainty. Could they still get the targets that they wanted?

"Gabriel Jesus, everyone knows he was their no.1 striker target, but when you’re not playing in the Champions League and he’s coming from Manchester City, that sell is a bit more difficult to try and persuade a player to come to a team playing in the Europa League.

"But credit to Edu, Arsenal’s technical director, and to Arteta too for selling the project that they are trying to create. They really got all the targets that they wanted to, they haven’t really had to deviate from the list they’ve got.

"So far, they’ve managed to do all the business that they wanted, but there’s a few things left in the window, maybe getting people out of the door, but it’s been a really successful summer for them. 

"At the crunch time of the season last year, Tottenham and Newcastle were two games that, when the storm was brewing, Arsenal didn’t really cope in. Part of their summer signings strategy was to bring people in who would change the mentality.

"We know it’s a really young group but Zinchenko and Jesus have eight Premier League titles between them. They are serial winners and having players like that, adding a bit more seniority, a bit more experience, is going to make a difference. Not only in the performance, but in the mentality of this group."

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Mikel Arteta
Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta's Gunners are expected to make a more substantial bid for UEFA Champions League football this term.

That win at Palace – courtesy of Gabriel Martinelli's strike and a Marc Guéhi own goal – earned many plaudits last Friday. With all eyes on Selhurst Park, for the first game of the new season, Arsenal lived up to their billing as genuine contenders. Collings says the big task is continuing that this weekend.

"In the first 20 minutes, I thought they were really impressive," he explained. "That had been the whole vibe through pre-season. The football they were playing, the intensity looked like they were further ahead than other teams in their schedule. It felt like that against Palace.

"You are never going to play against opposition teams in the Premier League and dominate the whole game and, during that middle period from 30 to 60 minutes, Arsenal did really weather the storm.

"As much as fans were happy about how great Jesus looked, and [Bukayo] Saka and Martinelli, there was also an appreciation about how good [Aaron] Ramsdale, [William] Saliba and that back four looked.

"Last season, when the likes of Tierney and [Takehiro] Tomiyasu weren’t fit, there were real concerns about how the team would cope. But now it looks like there’s depth and options there and I think we saw that against Palace.

"After that win at Palace, the mood is really high and, looking at those first four or five games, I think everyone expects Arsenal to start fast and they’ll want to continue that against Leicester."

All times BST.

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