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‘Incredible’: Arteta hails Martinelli as Arsenal break Manchester City hex

Mikel Arteta hailed a momentous step in the evolution of his Arsenal side after they beat Manchester City with a deflected late winner from Gabriel Martinelli. The dramatic conclusion to a largely cagey encounter ended their 12-match losing run in the Premier League against Pep Guardiola’s team and signalled that the title race this season could yet be wide open.

Arsenal leapfrogged City, who have now lost consecutive league games, to go second and Arteta explained that the pain of previous setbacks had given them the mental resilience to break the hex at last.

Gabriel Martinelli snatches statement win for Arsenal over Manchester CityRead more

Asked whether the win had lifted a psychological barrier, he said: “I don’t know if it was a barrier. Obviously it was something we needed to go through. To beat them we have to lose against them, we have to lose probably the way we lost at the Etihad [4-1 in April]. We lost in two different ways last season. The team showed a real maturity today: that comes from experiences. Sometimes you need that to become a better team.”

Martinelli, whose shot cannoned in off Nathan Aké’s head to wrong-foot Ederson, had missed the previous five games with a hamstring injury but was passed fit ahead of schedule on Saturday. The Brazilian replaced Leandro Trossard, who had sustained a hamstring strain of his own, at half‑time and Arteta sang his praises. “His mentality is incredible at his age,” he said. “It’s a joy to have him. Today he could change a game and he was really helpful for us to win the game.”

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Arteta, who did not comment on Michael Oliver’s failure to send off Mateo Kovacic in the first half for what appeared two clear yellow‑card offences as a minimum, confirmed Bukayo Saka will be pulled out of England’s forthcoming games against Australia and Italy.

“He’s not available to play football at the moment,” Arteta said of Saka, whose absence with an injury picked up at Lens on Tuesday ended the forward’s run of 87 consecutive top‑flight appearances. William Saliba, who denied Erling Haaland any sight of goal, has also pulled out of France’s squad for this international window to manage a toe problem.

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Guardiola cut a frustrated figure by the side as his team managed only four shots, the lowest tally in the 274 Premier League games he has overseen. But he pointed out that City had chased down an eight‑point Arsenal lead last season.

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“It’s football, it happens,” he said. “Sometimes it’s good going behind. It’s not the first time. Last year we were much more behind than here.”

After full time Erling Haaland, Kyle Walker and Jack Grealish appeared to be involved in an altercation with Nicolas Jover, the Arsenal set-piece coach who previously worked at City. “I know what happened but I won’t say,” Guardiola said with a smile.