Arsenal are gearing up for what could be a defining match-week in the race for the Premier League title as they welcome Crystal Palace to the Emirates.
The Gunners know that a win against the Eagles would put them eight points clear at the top of the Premier League, with Manchester City not back in league action until April 1 when they face Liverpool at the Etihad. However, there are fears Arsenal could be nursing a Europa League hangover following their elimination from the competition on Thursday night.
Mikel Arteta’s side were beaten on penalties by Portuguese giants Sporting on home soil, with the in-form Gabriel Martinelli the unfortunate, yet guilty party who saw his spot-kick saved.
With that in mind, Mirror Football has rounded up the latest Arsenal headlines amid their title ambitions.
Saka’s title quip
Bukayo Saka has a surprise admirer in Kim Kardashian’s son Saint, who was in attendance for Thursday night’s disappointing defeat.
While the young Gunner couldn’t meet up with them after the Sporting game, in a bid to make up for it the England international reached out via Facetime.
“Sorry that I missed you yesterday,” Saka explained to seven-year-old Saint. “They said that you were in the player’s lounge, I had a shirt for you.”
Another child present cheekily told the 21-year-old “We’re gonna come back if you win the Premier League,” to which Saka chuckled, before replying: “When [not if], when.”
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The sight of Gabriel Martinelli crestfallen after missing his penalty on Thursday was a sorry one, but some may be surprised he was even in the position to do so.
The Brazilian struggled desperately for minutes in the early stages of Arteta’s reign as boss, due to a mixture of injuries and just falling down the pecking order. It led to some fans and pundits alike speculating over whether Martinelli had a future at the Emirates while the Spaniard was at the helm.
“If anything it’s my fault,” Arteta admitted in March 2021 when asked about Martinelli’s lack of minutes. “He has done everything perfect, he trains incredibly well every day, his attitude cannot be any better.
“He is disappointed he is not playing more, obviously, and I have spoken to him, but he needs to be a little bit patient.
Fast forward to the present day and Martinelli is now Arsenal’s leading Premier League scorer so far this term and is one of the first names on the team-sheet, proving Arteta’s decision to ease him back into the fold as correct.
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Arsenal’s wage-bill improvement
The amount of money in football is already eye-watering and appears to be on the rise, but the Gunners have managed to get a grip on their finances to drive their wage bill down.
Mesut Ozil’s weekly wage of £350,000 feels like a distant memory nowadays, with Arsenal seriously improving the way they balance the books.
Research shows that Arsenal only have the sixth highest wage bill at just under £98m per year.
The Gunners have managed to move on not just Ozil, but a number of high-earners in recent years and in turn are now reaping the benefits with Arteta’s side in pole position to lift the Premier League title this term.