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Kevin De Bruyne Omission, Zinchenko, Jesus Sales: How Pep Guardiola Is ‘Helping’ Arteta’s Arsenal Title Bid
- Kevin De Bruyne was surprisingly dropped by Pep Guardiola for their game against Tottenham
- Manchester City missed an opportunity to cut Arsenal's lead at the top to two points
- The Belgian's omission, coupled with other coincidences, has fuelled rumours about how Guardiola might be helping Arteta's title bid
Premier League fans were taken aback by Pep Guardiola's decision to bench Kevin De Bruyne for their crunch tie against Tottenham Hotspur on February 5th.
The white part of North London has always been a tricky hunting ground for Guardiola. This fixture came at a time when Arsenal had dropped points and Manchester City needed to win at all costs to cut their lead to 2 points.
The Spanish Head Coach has often been blamed for overthinking his lineups. He opted to go with two strikers, Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez with Bernardo Silva and Rodri playing a double pivot.
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Benching your best player at a time when you need maximum points is almost unheard of. The Belgian came off the bench and ended up becoming the player with the most key passes than anyone else despite playing for half an hour.
Fans were quick to opine that Guardiola is perhaps helping Arsenal's title bid. Mikel Arteta has turned around the fortunes of the Gunners but to some extent, he has been helped inadvertently by Guardiola's and Manchester City's poor decisions.
1. De Bruyne omission
There's no telling the kind of impact the playmaker would have had had he started from the word go. So crucial was his absence that Haaland failed to get a single touch in the opposition box, let alone a shot on target.
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KDB's absence and Guardiola's tinkering with the line saw City lose the game as Arsenal kept their five-point lead with a game in hand.
2. Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus sales
The two utility players under Guardiola were allowed to move to the Emirates Stadium and quickly settled in well to inspire a title bid. Jesus was among the goals before his injury as Zinchenko continues to dazzle as a fullback.
Jesus' exit isn't missed as much considering Haaland's astronomical levels this season but in Zinchenko, City lost a jewel. The fact that no proper replacement was sourced in time has left them vulnerable.
Coupled up with the fact that Joao Camcelo has also been allowed to leave, City have only Rico Lewis, Nathan Ake or Aymeric Laporte to fill in those positions.
Guardiola strengthened his apprentice's title bid by selling him or rather gifting him, two crucial players.
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3. Arteta's tutelage under Guardiola
Arteta might be his own man but there is no denying that his coaching skills were honed by learning from the erudite Guardiola. The Arsenal boss served as Guardiola's assistant and took in as much knowledge as he could before taking over the Emirates job.
He has since incorporated his own ideas but there are still some striking similarities between how Arsenal and Manchester City play. Arteta learnt from the master and is making conscious efforts to better his trade.
With the two sides yet to face each other in the Premier League, the six points will prove crucial. No sane coach ever wants to lose but depending on the outcome, more theories will be floated and discussed on if Guardiola is really helping Arsenal's bid.
The coincidences are just too big to ignore.
Guardiola's experiment fails
Sports Brief had earlier reported that Guardiola is one of the most tactically sound managers in the world, possessing the rare ability to impose his team's tactics and not the usual style of adapting to their opponents.
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However, a few times this ability has failed him, which has always attracted the tag of 'overthinking', rather than the norm of 'being outclassed' used on other managers.
The Manchester City manager has earned that exception through respect alone.