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Major tests await Mikel Arteta’s young Arsenal team in Premier League title bid

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Eddie Nketiah’s late winner against Manchester United saw Arsenal open a five-point gap at the top of the Premier League.

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Midway through the season, the Gunners have accumulated 50 points and are in a strong position to lift the title for the first time since 2004.

However, there is a long way to go for Mikel Arteta to replicate Arsene Wenger’s achievements and win the Premier League as Arsenal boss and here, the PA news agency looks at the tests that await his young team.

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Gabriel Jesus won four Premier League titles at Manchester City before moving to Arsenal (Dave Thompson/PA)

Manchester City remain Arsenal’s closest challenger and Pep Guardiola and his squad certainly have more proven wisdom when it comes to putting a title bid on the line.

Four league titles in the last five seasons certainly give City the edge when it comes to trophy pedigree and it will be up to Arsenal to prove they have the same staying power.

The summer signings of Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko – both coming from City – will undoubtedly help Arteta, who himself was an integral part of Guardiola’s coaching staff for two successful title-winning seasons.

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Mikel Arteta is yet to beat Pep Guardiola since leaving Manchester City to become Arsenal boss (Peter Powell/NMC Pool/PA)

Arsenal have dropped just seven points from their opening 19 games of the season, opening up an impressive 50-point lead over both Newcastle and Manchester United by 11 points.

City are five points behind the Gunners and have goals from Erling Haaland to push for a ninth league title in their history.

The top two title heroes not only meet in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Friday night, but have clashed so far in the Premier League this season.

City will visit the Emirates Stadium on 15 February, with the return game in Manchester in late April.

Arsenal haven’t beaten City in the league since 2015, having lost the last 10 meetings by an aggregate score of 26-3 and will need to address such shocking results to stay ahead in the run-in.

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Eddie Nketiah has been in fine form since replacing the injured Gabriel Jesus in attack (John Walton/PA)

Arteta is confident in a small squad he has developed in recent seasons, with seven players starting all 19 league games so far this campaign.

Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, William Saliba, Gabriel Magalhães, Granit Xhaka, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli are ready for every game and that core of players has undoubtedly helped Arsenal find consistency and rhythm in their play.

Even losing Jesus to knee surgery has allowed Nketiah to come into the side and shine, but such is the size of Arteta’s squad that any further injuries could throw off his team’s balance and the trophy in their hands. Can give a chance to take.

The arrival of Leandro Trossard in January and the imminent signing of Jakub Kivor will help, but Arteta will keep his fingers crossed that the nucleus of his team remains fit and healthy.

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