Arsenal and Manchester City meet at the Emirates on Sunday in what is this weekend’s marquee fixture in the Premier League.
Gameweek 17 of the 2019-20 Premier League continues on Super Sunday, with three potentially mouthwatering clashes on show. The proceedings for the day will be rounded off in north London, where Arsenal play hosts to Manchester City, hoping to construct a winning run in domestic football.
At one point this season, Arsenal found themselves firmly in the top four race, keeping pace with now-second-placed Leicester City. However, the Gunners have been in the doldrums since late October and only arrested a nine-game winless run with a come-from-behind 3-1 victory over West Ham United earlier this week, a result despite which they remain ninth on the table.
Manchester City, on the other hand, remain among the upper echelons of Premier League football. But, unlike the last couple of season, the champions’ grip over the title is slowly slipping, with the 2-1 defeat to Manchester United last weekend leaving them 14 points behind Liverpool (17 after the Reds’ 2-0 win over Watford on Saturday). Pep Guardiola’s men cannot afford any more slip-ups.
The corresponding fixture last season had ended in a 2-0 loss for Arsenal, with Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva being on target for Manchester City. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Freddie Ljungberg’s injury woes have hardly improved ahead of the visit of Manchester City. On Sunday, the Arsenal manager is set to be without at least four first-team players, with Hector Bellerin (hamstring) and Nicolas Pepe (knee) being major doubts in addition to the quartet.
The aforementioned quartet are Rob Holding (knee), Kieran Tierney (shoulder), Dani Ceballos (hamstring) and Granit Xhaka (concussion). Among these, Tierney will be a major absentee, although a recent upturn in Sead Kolasinac’s form has been promising.
Xhaka, too, will be sorely missed after making an emphatic return to the first-team setup in recent weeks. In his absence, Matteo Guendouzi is likely to accompany Lucas Torreira in the midfield double pivot, with the duo being tasked to keep things tight in the middle of the park and restrict the creative output of Kevin De Bruyne.
The early reports suggest that Bellerin and Pepe are in contention to start, which will be a huge boost for Ljungberg & co. If passed fit, Bellerin is a certain starter on the right side of the Arsenal defence, with Calum Chambers and Sokratis likely to form the central defensive partnership, while Bernd Leno will take his place in goal.
As for Pepe, a medical all-clear would see him take his place ahead of Bellerin, starting on the right flank in the final third. Gabriel Martinelli was key in Arsenal’s comeback win over West Ham United on Monday and should keep his place on the left.
Mesut Ozil should, once again, reprise the no. 10 role, despite a solid performance by Emile Smith Rowe in the Europa League. Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will lead the line against Manchester City, with Alexandre Lacazette dropping down to the bench after a poor showing in Europe.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, Chambers, Sokratis, Kolasinac; Guendouzi, Torreira; Pepe, Ozil, Martinelli; Aubameyang
Aymeric Laporte remains the major absentee for Manchester City, with the Frenchman’s absence proving to be the catalyst for the Premier League champions’ struggles. Other than Laporte, John Stones is also on the sidelines due to a thigh injury, meaning Pep Guardiola is down to bare bones in defence.
Nicolas Otamendi provided a glimmer of hope to Manchester City with a late goal against Manchester United last time out and should return at the heart of the defence. Fernandinho ought to continue as a centre-back despite his travails in defence. Fernandinho and Otamendi should be flanked by Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy.
Guardiola, meanwhile, is sweating over the fitness of club captain David Silva, who missed the Champions League tie against Dinamo Zagreb with a knock. Silva might miss out against Arsenal, with Ilkay Gundogan being his likely replacement. There is no looking past Rodri and Kevin De Bruyne for the other two slots in midfield.
De Bruyne will once again look to pull the strings, having been unlucky to not have an assist or two to show for his incredible efforts in the derby. Rodri, on the other hand, will hope to stifle Arsenal’s creative flow, while also posing a threat with his deadly long-range strikes.
Raheem Sterling has bizarrely blown hot and cold for Manchester City this season and the English international will hope to project a return to form on Sunday. Gabriel Jesus will continue to be the central striker against Arsenal, with Sergio Aguero still unavailable. Finally, Riyad Mahrez could start in place of Bernardo Silva on the right flank.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Mendy; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.50
1. Raheem Sterling to score 2 or more @ 4.50
- Arsenal have lost each of their last five games against Manchester City, including the 2018 League Cup final, which gave Pep Guardiola his first trophy in charge.
- Manchester City have won their last two Premier League away games against Arsenal – more than they had in their previous 32 top-flight visits to Highbury/Emirates (W1 D11 L20).
- Manchester City have already lost four Premier League games this season, as many as they did in the whole of 2018-19. However, the Citizens have won 10 of their last 11 top-flight games in London (L1).
- Arsenal have won 10 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season – no other side has earned more.
- Arsenal have conceded the first goal in each of their last five Premier League games. The Gunners have never conceded first in six consecutive matches in the competition.
Player to Watch
With several seniors faltering massively this season, Martinelli has been a rare shining light for Arsenal despite being one of the most inexperienced players in the squad. The Brazilian has taken little time to make his mark and scored his first Premier League goal in Gameweek 16.
Alexandre Lacazette has been off colour lately, which has given Martinelli the elusive chance in the Premier League. Following a solid performance last time out, an impressive showing against the champions Manchester City will go a long way for him. Expect Martinelli to be one of Arsenal’s better players on Sunday.
Arsenal 1-3 Manchester City
The start to life as Arsenal’s caretaker manager has hardly gone swimmingly for Freddie Ljungberg. The only win of his tenure so far came after a meek collective performance, with only a flourish after the hour-mark earning them all three points. However, if there ever was a time to face Manchester City, it is now.
Pep Guardiola just has not managed to arrest his side’s rut, with the Premier League champions struggling to string together the kind of winning run that took Manchester City to their second title in a row. The visitors’ defensive frailties should keep Arsenal in the business, but the Gunners will themselves be porous at the back.
Therefore, one can expect some goalmouth action, although City should have enough quality to outclass this Arsenal side. The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-1 win for Guardiola & co.