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Arsenal aiming to make best start to season since 1903

Arsenal aiming to make best start to season since 1903

Arsenal could make their best start to a league season for 119 years when they meet Leeds United at Elland Road in Sunday’s Premier League clash.

The Gunners’ 3-2 success over Liverpool made it eight wins from nine Premier League games in the 2022-23 campaign, alongside a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Mikel Arteta‘s side have held off Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at the top of the table in the early stages of the season, with a one-point gap separating them from the reigning champions.

Arsenal have also recorded three wins from three against Bodo/Glimt and FC Zurich in the Europa League and will go in search of their seventh win in a row across all competitions at Elland Road.

Should Arsenal prevail against Jesse Marsch‘s side on Sunday, it will mark only the second time in their history that they have recorded nine wins from their first 10 games of a league season.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta on October 9, 2022© Reuters

The first Arsenal team to do so were the 1903-04 second division crop – then known as Woolwich Arsenal – where Harry Bradshaw led the team to 10 wins from their opening 11 games of the season.

Barnsley were the only team to defeat Woolwich Arsenal in that period, and the Gunners finished second in the league that year – one point behind champions Preston North End and earning promotion in the process.

Arsenal have never won nine of their first 10 games in a Premier League season before, and Arteta’s side will be in elite company if they manage to take all three points home from Elland Road.

The last four English teams to have recorded as many as nine wins from 10 at the start of a top-flight season have ended up as champions, with London rivals Chelsea doing so in the 2005-06 season.

Manchester City won the title in 2011-12 and 2017-18 seasons after enjoying such a start, while Liverpool clinched the crown in 2019-20 after winning nine and drawing one of their first 10 matches.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta celebrates on October 1, 2022© Reuters

Pep Guardiola‘s side will not take on Liverpool until Arsenal’s clash with Leeds has ended, meaning that the Gunners could temporarily go four points clear at the top of the table.

However, Arteta was in no mood to discuss the embryonic rankings when asked in his pre-game press conference, responding: “Now, the trick is how are we going to prepare for Leeds, mentally and physically.

“It’s going to be a battle – we know the way they play and how intense it is going to be and the crowd that they have, so it’s going to be a challenge. We have to be at our best again to win there.”

Arsenal will travel to Leeds without the services of Mohamed Elneny (hamstring) and Emile Smith Rowe (groin), while Oleksandr Zinchenko remains a doubt with his calf problem.

Arteta has also admitted that Gabriel Jesus is not guaranteed to make the squad after missing Thursday’s Europa League win over Bodo/Glimt due to discomfort.

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