While Tottenham rejoiced after drawing 2-2 with their closest foes on Sunday, Arsenal slipped further away from Manchester City in the Premier League table.
With injuries beginning to pile up and mistakes from senior players seeping in, this is arguably Mikel Arteta’s toughest time at Arsenal since the beginning of the 2021/22 season.
Here are four questions Arsenal need to answer after their north London derby draw…
How to replace Declan RiceEmbed from Getty Images
When Declan Rice was substituted at half-time, Arsenal began to sweat. Their £105 million man was taken off with an injury and when Sky Sports reported a potential calf injury, something the England international had already been suffering with, alarm bells began to ring. Mikel Arteta confirmed after the match that Rice’s injury was in fact to do with his back. They have Jorginho, and Oleksandr Zinchenko, who can operate in midfield, but with options limited, Arsenal will hope Rice is out for as little time as possible.
Need for a new strikerEmbed from Getty Images
Gabriel Jesus is a wonderful footballer, but he is not a prolific goalscorer. Eddie Nketiah has proven effective at times for the Gunners but the 24-year-old has not got the consistency to be Arsenal’s number one striker, and Folarin Balogun was sold in the summer to AS Monaco, with most of the goals spread around the team. Erling Haaland has been a revelation for Manchester City in the past 12 months, which begs the question how much better Arsenal could be were they to have an out and out goalscoring striker. Ivan Toney returns from his ban in January, with the 20-goal Brentford striker expected to leave west London, and could be an option for Arteta.
Has Raya done enough to be number one?Embed from Getty Images
It did not surprise many people when David Raya was named in the starting line-up for the derby. A third consecutive start for the Spaniard since his loan move from Brentford all but consigned regular number one Aaron Ramsdale to the number two position. However, Raya was rarely troubled against Everton and PSV, with only one stunning save against Brennan Johnson plastering over some not so convincing kicking and catching. Ramsdale should have a chance to stake his claim once again on Wednesday.
Keeping squad fit a priority
Injuries are mounting for Mikel Arteta. With Jurrien Timber, Thomas Partey and Gabriel Martinelli all already out of the north London derby, Leandro Trossard picked up a hamstring/knee injury days before the game, and now Declan Rice and potentially Bukayo Saka are needing time on the treatment table. The Gunners face Manchester City in twelve days time and Arteta will be sweating on the fitness of Saka, Rice and Martinelli ahead of a match that could have huge implications in the title race. Finding a way to keep his best players in the condition to play in that game must be a priority.