Etihad Stadium, Manchester
November 14, 2013; 12:45 BST
Manchester City host Arsenal FC in a match which has the potential to be the most memorable meetings between these two sides in recent times. These two sides faced each other in a pre-season friendly in the summer, but the last competitive meetings between these two sides ended in a comfortable 0-2 victory for the Citizens. James Milner and Edin Dzeko scored for the away side on that night after Arsenal went down to 10-men following the dismissal of Laurent Koscielny in the first half, incidentally Kompany was also sent off in the second half of that game. Those two red cards in that game means there has now been six red cards shown in the last six meetings between these two sides.
Manchester City are coming into this game on the back of a memorable 2-3 win over Bayern Munich in the midweek Champions League clash. Despite resting a lot of their first team players, the English club managed to comeback after conceding two goals against the reigning European champions. In fact, they missed an opportunity to win the group as Mancini didn’t realize that one goal was enough for them to topple Bayern from the top of the table. None the less this result will provide them with immense confidence ahead of this all-important fixture.
Manchester City made a relatively slow start to their Premier League campaign under new manager Manuel Pellegrini, but are slowly building up momentum. They are currently fourth in the league table, six points behind league leaders Arsenal and they can send out a big message to the rest of the Premier League teams if they manage to get a positive result in this game. City have been the best home side this season and have won all their seven matches at the Etihad stadium. In fact their only defeat at home came against Bayern Munich in the Champions League this season. Incredibly, they have managed to score 44 goals in 11 home games this season in all competitions – something which is sure to worry Arsene Wenger ahead of this fixture. But their away form has held them back in the league; Manuel Pellegrini’s men have won just two of their eight away matches so far in the league and they dropped points once again on road as Southampton held them to draw in their last game.
Arsenal have had a brilliant start to their domestic campaign and currently lead the points table with five point advantage over Liverpool and Chelsea. The Gunners are coming into this game after facing a disappointing loss against Napoli in their last Champions League group stage fixture and were one goal away from being knocked out of the tournament.
The most intriguing part about this upcoming clash is the fact that the team with the best home record in the league will face the team with the best away record. While City have scored 29 homes goals, Arsenal have conceded only five goals away from home. Arsenal’s only defeat away from this season came against Manchester United at Old Trafford, but they bounced back well with a brilliant performance against Cardiff. The Gunners were held to a draw by Everton in their last game as both the team produced a match to remember. Mesut Ozil’s second half goal was cancelled out by a wonderful strike from Gerard Deulofeu.
Manchester City – Team News, Lineup And Formation
Manuel Pellegrini has few injury concerns ahead of this fixture. Micah Richards, who was substituted after just 16 minutes in the match against Bayern Munich, will miss out with a hamstring injury. Nastasic is still struggling with his calf problem, while Jovetic is unlikely to recover in time as well. Gael Clichy missed out the match against Southampton and Bayern with fitness concerns, but he is expected to recover in time to face his former side.
Pellegrini made a lot of changes to the side he fielded in the midweek Champions League fixture and he is expected to make six changes to the side ahead of this game. Some reports suggest that Pellegrini is considering the option to reinstall Joe Hart in the side for Premier League matches. The England international lost his place in the side after some poor performances and Pantilimon has replaced him in the starting eleven in the league. It would perhaps be unfair on the Romanian international to remove him suddenly as he has not done anything wrong since his arrival in the side.
Zabaleta will return to the right back spot, while Clichy is expected recover in time and replace Kolarov on the left. Yaya Toure will start alongside Fernandinho, despite Garcia’s wonderful performance against Bayern Munich. Aguero and Negredo will also return upfront as Dzeko drops back to the bench. The biggest challenge for Pellegrini in team selection will be to choose between the trio of Nasri, Silva and Navas. Nasri has been in brilliant form this season and is sure to retain his place, but with Silva being available for selection now, he is expected to start ahead of Navas. But the problem with starting both Nasri and Silva in a 4-4-1-1 or 4-4-2 formation is that neither of them are natural wingers, moreover they haven’t worked well together so far for Manchester City. Pellegrini will hope that these two can form a good partnership now, while Navas provides a different option from the bench.
Possible Starting Line up [4-4-2]: Pantilimon (GK); Zabaleta, Demichelis, Kompany, Clichy; Silva, Toure, Fernandinho, Nasri; Aguero, Negredo
Arsenal – Team News, Lineup And Formation
Arsene Wenger still has a long injury list to contain with ahead of this game. Abou Diaby, Yaya Sanogo, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ryo Miyaichi remain the long term injury concerns, while Lukas Podolski is close to returning to first team action soon. But the prime concern for Arsenal ahead of this fixture is regarding the fitness of Bacary Sagna. The right backs has missed the last few matches with an hamstring injury and Arsene Wenger has confirmed that he will undergo a later fitness test ahead of the game.
Unlike Manuel Pellegrini, Arsene Wenger wasn’t able to rest most of his players against Napoli as Arsenal needed a result in that game. Worryingly for Wenger, his side looked tired in the second half of the match and he will hope that they can recover ahead of this game. Manchester City have got an extra day to rest and that could count a lot in this match.
Arsene Wenger is expected to make three changes to the side that he fielded against Napoli in the mid-week. Jack Wilshere will replace Tomas Rosicky on the right, while Aaron Ramsey will come into the side in place of Mathieu Flamini. Wenger though, might also look to start with a pivot of Flamini and Ramsey in this match as he will be aware of City’s threat. Arteta provides more control in the midfield, but having featured in the mid-week clash, where he was sent off, the 31-year-old might start from the bench as the energetic duo of Flamini and Ramsey might be preferred. The other option is for Wenger to start Ramsey on the right with Arteta and Flamini in pivot. Wenger is also positive about Sagna making it to the starting eleven and he will replace Jenkinson at right back.
Theo Walcott is yet to start a game since his return from injury and the winger might be key option for Arsenal in this match. The Gunner’s attack at times lacks width and players who can run beyond the defence. With Walcott in the side, it provides the likes of Ozil and Cazorla more option to threat their beautiful through balls for him to run onto. The Englishman might be key to stretch the City defence if Arsenal are chasing the game. There is also possibility of Wenger springing a tactical surprise and starting him ahead of Wilshere on the right, in order to exploit Clichy, who can be caught out of position at times.
Possible Starting Line-Up [4-2-3-1]: Szczesny (GK); Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Arteta, Ramsey; Wilshere, Ozil, Cazorla; Giroud
- This match pits the two most clinical teams in the Barclays Premier League with Man City scoring with 20.6% of their shots and Arsenal18.9%.
- Arsenal have scored more goals than any other team away at Manchester City in the Barclays Premier League era (28).
- There have been six red cards in the last six Premier League meetings between Man City (4) and Arsenal (2).
- There have been just seven goals scored in the last six meetings in all competitions between Arsenal and Man City.
- Only two of the last eight meetings between City and Arsenal in all competitions have ended as home wins (HW2, D3, AW3).
Player To Watch Out For
Samir Nasri (Manchester City)
The 26-year-old has been in fine form this season and the Manchester City fans are finally getting to see the Samir Nasri of old. The Frenchman has already scored four goals and provided two assists in the league, along with four assists in the Champions League. The last time Arsenal won at this ground, Samir Nasri opened the scoring and once again the midfielder could prove to be the difference between the two sides.
Manchester City 2-1 Arsenal
The side with the best home record goes up against the side with the best away record. This promises to be an encounter to remember. Manchester City are scoring goals for fun at home, while Arsenal have found a new grit and organisation at the back. This will be a close game, but expect Manchester City to win it based on their superior fire power by a goal.