Manchester City will aim to make another statement in the Premier League title race when they host Arsenal at the Etihad on Sunday
League football will take a break for international fixtures from Monday, but not before a Super Sunday. At the Etihad, Manchester City play hosts to Arsenal looking to continue their fine winning run, while the Gunners would look to spring a surprise and throw the Premier League title race wide open.
Pep Guardiola’s men come into the match having not lost a single game this season, and 22 in all extending to last season. In fact, the hosts have won each of their games over the last two months, the last of which was an impressive 4-2 away success at Napoli in the UEFA Champions League.
Arsenal, on the other hand, have blown hot and cold in the first quarter of their Premier League campaign, having lost three of their ten games thus far. However, the Gunners have shown signs of a turnaround in form, having gone unbeaten in each of their last five games in all competitions.
The corresponding fixture last season ended in a 2-1 win for Manchester City as they overturned a one-goal deficit at half-time to grab all three points. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Pep Guardiola’s men have largely been in imperious form, particularly in front of goal, with his attackers often finding the back of the net for fun. His job has been made all the easier with his squad not being ravaged by a lot of injuries.
Indeed, the Manchester City boss is without just two first-team players, with Vincent Kompany (calf) and Benjamin Mendy (knee) sidelined with long-term injuries. In Kompany’s absence, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi should continue at the heart of defence, while Fabian Delph has filled Mendy’s void well.
To make Guardiola’s job even easier, he has three well rested players from the midweek win over Napoli, with Gabriel Jesus playing just five minutes as a substitute, while David Silva and Kyle Walker enjoyed a night off. The trio are likely to replace Sergio Aguero, Ilkay Gundogan and Danilo in the starting lineup.
Raheem Sterling could start on the bench as well, with Bernardo Silva in contention to start another Premier League game, while Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho are two of the few ever presents with the duo providing control and solidity in midfield.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Delph; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, David Silva; Sterling, Jesus, Sane
While Guardiola does not have many injury concerns to contend with, his counterpart Arsene Wenger is dealing with a number of roster issues ahead of the trip to Manchester, with five first-team players sidelined due to short-to-long-term injuries.
But, the Arsenal boss does not have any fresh injuries hampering his preparation for the Manchester City game. In fact, David Ospina (groin) and Calum Chambers (hip) are back in training, although the game has come too soon for the duo.
Wenger also said that he expects Danny Welbeck (groin) and Shkodran Mustafi (thigh) to return after the international break. But, uncertainty remains around the availability of Santi Cazorla, who has been battling a gruesome Achilles injury, and has missed the better part of the last two seasons.
Sead Kolasinac, though, is expected to shrug off a hip injury that he sustained last weekend to line up as the left wing-back. In fact, Wenger is set to dish out an entirely new starting lineup than the one that played against Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League on Thursday, meaning his players will be fresh for the crunch game.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Cech; Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ozil, Sanchez; Lacazette
- Manchester City have managed to beat Arsenal just once in their last nine meetings in all competitions – the 2-1 win in the corresponding fixture last season.
- Manchester City are without a loss in their last 22 games in all competitions, their best ever run without a defeat (W18 D4).
- Arsenal could lose four of their opening six away games in a top-flight season for the first time since 1981.
- In fact, Arsenal have won just two of their last 26 Premier League away games against clubs that finished in the top six last season (D8 L16).
- Arsene Wenger is the only manager to beat Pep Guardiola while he has managed Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City.
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @1.53
2. Arsenal Asian Handicap +1.0 @2.250
1. Arsenal Asian Handicap 0.0 @4.650
Player To Watch
Alexis Sanchez is likely to be the man under the spotlight after a long drawn out transfer saga involving Sunday’s hosts, but Arsenal’s pursuit to spring up a shock result will hinge largely on the performance of Mesut Ozil.
The contract-rebel German has created the most number of goal-scoring opportunities in the Premier League this season – 30, a joint league-high with Kevin De Bruyne. But, he is often chastised for his inability to make a mark in the big games.
However, Ozil has looked like he has rediscovered his best form in the last two weeks, and if he can manage to be the creative force that we is known to be, Arsenal might just be set up for a popular win that could change the course of their campaign for the better.
Manchester City 2-1 Arsenal
Just who can stop Manchester City in their seemingly unstoppable run of form? Will it be Arsenal, who have experienced a pleasant turnaround in form over the last two months? While the Gunners have lost just once in their last 13 outings, they have looked far from convincing for the most part.
City, meanwhile, have been merrily gone about winning match after match, largely going untroubled in this run. However, recent weeks have exposed a minor chink in their armour, with West Bromwich Albion and Napoli running them close.
While fatigue might also be a contributing factor on the weekend for the hosts, Pep Guardiola has just about enough quality and rested players at his disposal to come through unscathed on Sunday. The Hard Tackle, therefore, predicts a hard-fought 2-1 win for Manchester City to continue their winning run.