January 18, 16:00 GMT
Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Defending champions Manchester City play host to Arsenal and would be looking to take advantage of the defensive problems that the club from North London seem to be having all season long. City would want to take all 3 points from this game, especially after falling behind Chelsea in the race for the title. They can’t afford to drop any more points, and with there being a chance that Chelsea may not get all 3 points against Swansea, City should be ready to make good any such opening.
Arsenal, on the other hand, would be excused to think that a draw would make good reading. With the problems in defence they have been having, they have not been able to put a sequence of 3 wins in the Premier League, and that has hurt their chances of being the top 4 for now. However, they are not too far away from Manchester United, with only 1 point separating the two, and a draw will be seen as a good result by the gunners.
Team News and Tactics
Manchester City will be even more confident of getting all 3 points against Arsenal’s defence, considering they welcome back Sergio Aguero. Aguero would be a big boost for the team and will cause a lot more problems to the Gunners back 4, who will have atleast one youngster in the form of either Chambers or Bellerin at Right Back.
City would also look to bringing back Vincent Kompany into the defence, and that will make it harder for Arsenal to score. Both Kompany and Aguero had made it to the bench against Everton, and so are very likely to start. However, there was bad news in the form of Samir Nasri, who won’t be playing against his former club as he will be on the treatment table for 3 weeks thanks to a calf problem. Edin Dzeko is also a doubt for City too. They will also have to do without Yaya Toure and new signing Wilfried Bony, as both are away on international duty.
City may be on a great run of form, considering that they have not been beaten in their last 12 league games, but more worryingly for Manuel Pellegrini, they drew 2 of their last 3 games, which is the reason they’re still behind Chelsea. If they could have converted those 2 draws into wins, they would have had a 2 points lead over the London club.
Predicted Line Up: Hart; Clichy, Kompany, Mangala, Zabaleta; Fernando, Fernandinho; Milner, Silva, Navas; Aguero.
Arsenal will go into this game without the services of the injured Mathieu Debuchy. Debuchy got injured in the game against Stoke City last weekend, and would need a surgery for his shoulder meaning he will be out for a further 3 months. This would effectively mean the end of his season, unless he makes a quick recovery like Olivier Giroud. This has just accelerated the need for defensive signings for Arsene, and with Koscielny also limping through games, any further delay would be catastrophic for Arsenal.
Mikel Arteta also had a setback in his recovery from injury and would also be out for a further 3 months. This leaves the defensive midfield a bit short, and Arsenal would especially miss the captain’s vision and composure, though not necessarily his speed. However, with Arsene pointedly saying that new signing Krystian Bielik will go straight into the first team, they seem to be well covered in the area. However, it is hard to see young Bielik being thrust into such a high profile game, so it could be Coquelin and Ramsey instead.
Arsenal will once again look to Alexis Sanchez to make the impact, and with Ozil back in the team too, it will be a very exciting forward line for Arsenal. Giroud, especially, will be licking with joy at the thought of all the chances that will be created for him. David Ospina will likely continue as goalkeeper.
Predicted Line Up: Ospina; Monreal, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Bellerin; Coquelin, Ramsey; Cazorla, Ozil, Sanchez; Giroud
- Arsenal’s away form has not been great this season, with a record of 4 wins, 4 losses and 3 draws.
- In the last 7 league games between the 2 sides at the Etihad Stadium, there have been a total of 28 goals scored.
- Arsenal are the only team to score 3 goals at the Etihad Stadium during Pellegrini’s management. However, that was a 6-3 defeat in December 2013.
While Arsenal seem to be equal in terms of attacking firepower, it will be the defence that will be the difference between the two. With Kompany back in the team for City, they have a more solid look to their back 4.
Predicted Score: Manchester City 3-1 Arsenal