The Gunners risk being left behind by rivals if they fail to rise to the challenge of qualifying for the Champions League

On Wednesday afternoon Arsenal’s players will hold their team meeting at one of London’s airports, fly to the north-west, board two buses while maintaining distance from each other and file into an echoey Etihad Stadium. They will get changed in several different rooms and there will be little of the usual ceremony surrounding a Premier League fixture.

The “new normal” discourages overnight stays, frowns upon pre-match strolls and has no time for the presence of hangers-on around the players’ area. But it desperately needs to bring something more constructive for Mikel Arteta, who knows a continuation of existing ways may be fatal to the ambitions outlined upon his appointment in December.

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