Manchester City host Arsenal in a crucial fixture that is significant in the title race as well as the top four, as both sides look to collect three points.
Manchester City are aware of the repercussions of falling further behind Liverpool after they dropped three precious points against Newcastle United in midweek. A win against Arsenal is necessary to keep their position in the title race, although a slip up against the Gunners could come back to haunt the champions when the season ends.
The mood, however in the City camp is not so confident, after their morale-sucking defeat to the Magpies, although they were lucky for the fact that Liverpool could only manage a draw against Leicester. Man City can take confidence from the fact that they’ve been on the winning end in their last four games against Arsenal, although they can take nothing for granted against the Gunners.
Arsenal comes into this game on the back of a struggling win over Cardiff City in midweek, where a penalty from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and an Alexandre Lacazette goal ensured all three points for the side. A win against Manchester City would take the North Londoners level on points with fourth placed Chelsea, who thrashed Huddersfield Town 5-0 on Saturday.
Unai Emery will need his side to show their best game against City and would want his team to show character similar to how they performed against Chelsea. However, Arsenal’s away record this season hasn’t been all that impressive and any game against City ought to be an awkward encounter, a fixture were Arsenal have enjoyed minimal success in recent years.
Team News & Tactics
The big concern for Guardiola would be the fitness of goalkeeper Ederson. The Brazilian appeared to have suffered a knock to the knee during his side’s defeat to Newcastle, and if he is unfit, then Aro Muric would take his place. Guardiola will give in to the slightest chance of Ederson being fit as Aro Muric is vastly inexperienced in the Premier League.
Benjamin Mendy is another player who is a concern for Guardiola, as reports suggest the Frenchman might still not be close enough to be starting for Man City. However, since recovering from his knee problem, Mendy has had 11 days of rest and sat out his side’s last two games, so there’s every chance of a late fitness test and a subsequent starting berth for the left-back.
Elsewhere Vincent Kompany remains out of the side for Guardiola’s side. The former Barcelona boss could start with his favoured midfield three of Kevin De Bruyne, Fernandinho and David Silva, while Sergio Aguero, who has seven goals in his last ten games against Arsenal is a sure starter. Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling start on the flanks.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Danilo; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, David Silva; Sterling, Aguero, Sane;
Arsenal’s defensive woes continue as the Gunners still have significant doubts over defensive players for the Manchester City game. Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who was understood to be the natural replacement for the injured Hector Bellerin is a doubt for this game like the last. There could be a late fitness test for the youngster, and if he doesn’t feature, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Carl Jenkinson are options.
Laurent Koscielny, on the other hand, is understood to be fit enough to start for Arsenal after it was confirmed he did not suffer a jaw fracture. The Frenchman is back in full training and could slot in alongside Shkodran Mustafi in central defence. Sead Kolasinac will make up the back four for the Gunners.
New signing Denis Suarez is expected to be on the bench, as Emery will likely go with a four-man midfield of Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira and Aaron Ramsey, meaning Mesut Ozil will have to contend with a place on the bench. Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will start up front for Arsenal against Manchester City.
Probable Lineup (4-1-2-1-2): Leno; Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Koscielny, Kolasinac; Xhaka; Torreira, Guendouzi; Ramsey; Lacazette, Aubameyang;
- Manchester City have won their last three Premier League games against Arsenal – they haven’t won four consecutive top-flight games against the Gunners since April 1937.
- Arsenal have lost on seven of their last 11 visits to the Etihad Stadium in all competitions against Man City.
- Arsenal have lost 11 of their last 19 away Premier League games, keeping a solitary clean sheet during that period.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored his 25th Premier League goal in Arsenal’s last match against Cardiff, reaching that number faster than any other Gunners’ player in the competition’s history (37 games).
- Since August 20th, Manchester City have only won three more points in the Premier League (50) than Arsenal (47) and have lost more games (4) than the Gunners (3) in that time.
Player to Watch
Leroy Sane (Manchester City)
The young German star has had the good fortune of tormenting Arsenal since he joined Manchester City. Sane has been instrumental for his side, starring in last season’s triumph, and despite a difficult period in the current campaign, he has bounced back to his best. Against Arsenal, Sane has scored three goals and assisted one in seven games, and he certainly wants more.
Only Aguero has a better record against the Gunners, and it will be interesting to see both of them combine against Arsenal. Interestingly, with Bellerin injured, Sane has a lip-smacking prospect of facing Stephan Lichtsteiner on his side, and we all can certainly agree which way that battle is going to go.
Manchester City 2-1 Arsenal
Arsenal have shown massive improvement since their 2-0 loss on opening day against Manchester City at the Emirates. Manchester City, however, have been at their consistent best since, and their latest loss against Newcastle in midweek is only going to spur them on. The champions are well placed to beat Unai Emery’s side at the Etihad, especially given Arsenal’s defensive injuries.
The likes of Sane and Sterling are expected to get the better of Lichtsteiner and Kolasinac on the flanks, while the likes of De Bruyne, Fernandinho and Silva would be hard for Arsenal’s midfield four to stop. Finally, City frontman Aguero would relish the chance to dismantle the Koscielny-Mustafi partnership and ensure his team takes all three points.