Manchester City will be aiming to stretch their lead at the top of the Premier League table when they take on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium this weekend.
It will be the latest edition of the Master vs the Apprentice on show this Sunday evening as Pep Guardiola’s rampant Manchester City pay a visit to Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal in the 2020/21 Premier League Matchweek 25.
After a three-game run without a win in the league, Arsenal bounced back with the 4-2 thrashing of Leeds United last week, which put them in tenth place in the standings. However, the Gunners weren’t able to build on that victory in midweek as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Benfica in the UEFA Europa League. They will be hoping to get back to winning ways come Sunday.
Manchester City, meanwhile, are running away with the Premier League title. The 3-1 win over Everton in midweek in the Premier League meant Guardiola’s side have now opened up a ten-point lead over second-placed Manchester United and are currently on a seventeen-game winning streak across all competitions. They will be looking to extend that run and bag three more points at the Emirates.
The reverse fixture, played at the Etihad Stadium, saw Manchester City beat Arsenal 1-0, with Raheem Sterling finding the back of the net. The two teams also met in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals in December last year, with the Cityzens winning 4-1 at the Emirates. Ahead of their latest contest on Sunday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Arsenal will be without just two players for the visit of Manchester City with summer signings Thomas Partey (hamstring) and Runar Alex Runarsson (knee) set to miss out. No major changes are expected to be made to the side that took the field against Benfica in midweek.
Bernd Leno is the undisputed starter in goal for Arsenal while the centre-back partnership of David Luiz and Gabriel Magalhaes has been favoured in the last two games and should once again be the case on Sunday as well. Hector Bellerin ought to continue at right-back.
Kieran Tierney, who made his return as a substitute in midweek, is set to replace Cedric on the left and will play a key role in the Gunners’ chance-creation with his forward forays and pinpoint deliveries.
With no Partey, Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos should once again line up in the midfield double pivot. The duo will have their task cut out to keep the Manchester City midfield runners quiet on the evening at the Emirates.
Moving forward, Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard showed his quality against Benfica and should continue as the No. 10 and try to string together play in the final third. Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe ought to take up the flanks although they will look to cut inside at every possible chance while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang spearheads the attack.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney; Ceballos, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Aubameyang
Nathan Ake remains absent for the Premier League leaders ahead of the trip to London while Ilkay Gundogan is a doubt for the game. However, the German did take part in training and is likely to be available in some capacity for Sunday’s contest. Kevin De Bruyne made his return from injury in the midweek contest and could be in contention to start.
🗣 "Nathan [Ake] is back in training, Gundogan did part of the session so we will see tomorrow."
Pep Guardiola updates on Manchester City's injuries and players returning pic.twitter.com/MhsUL653Hr
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) February 19, 2021
Ederson Moraes is an absolute certainty in goal for Manchester City but there are likely to be a couple of changes in defence. John Stones should return to partner Ruben Dias at the heart of the backline replacing Aymeric Laporte while Oleksandr Zinchenko should start at left-back, allowing Joao Cancelo to move to right-back with Kyle Walker dropping to the bench.
In midfield, Rodri will look to break up Arsenal’s play and initiate quick transitions. With Gundogan a doubt, Kevin De Bruyne should start in midfield while Bernardo Silva, who has been a top performer in recent games also features. Phil Foden, who has played the full ninety minutes in each of the last three games could be given a breather.
Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling ought to be the two wide players who have the pace and the skills to make the most of any space left behind by the Arsenal defenders. Gabriel Jesus should continue as the lone centre-forward for Manchester City, with Sergio Aguero and Ferran Torres additional attacking options from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Stones, Dias, Zinchenko; De Bruyne, Rodri, Silva; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling
1. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.72
1. Arsenal Draw No Bet @ 4.50
- Arsenal have lost their last seven league games against Manchester City. The Gunners have only lost more league clashes consecutively against Leeds United (8 between 1973-1976).
- Manchester City are unbeaten in their last ten Premier League meetings with Arsenal, scoring at least twice in nine of those games.
- Arsenal are unbeaten in their last six home games in the Premier League (W3 D3) after having lost each of the previous four such matches.
- Manchester City have scored 3+ goals in each of their last three Premier League games against London sides (3 vs Chelsea, 4 vs Crystal Palace, 3 vs Tottenham).
- Raheem Sterling has been involved in six goals in his last five Premier League games against Arsenal (4 goals 2 assists).
Player to Watch
It has been a difficult season for the Arsenal skipper who has found it hard to get going in front of goal. Last week’s sensational hat-trick against Leeds United, which followed a brace in his previous start against Newcastle United, sparked hopes that Aubameyang was closing in on his best.
But, another underwhelming display in midweek against SL Benfica poured cold water over those expectations. Up against a rampant Manchester City side, for Arsenal to stand any sort of chance to come away with a positive result, they will need their captain to step up.
However, in John Stones and Ruben Dias, he will be taking on the best centre-back partnership in the Premier League this season. And the winners of this battle could end up having a huge say on the outcome of the game at the Emirates.
Arsenal 0-3 Manchester City
Even though there have been a few bright sparks here and there, the Arsenal attack has lacked the element of consistency this term and going up against Manchester City who have the meanest defensive record in the Premier League (15 goals conceded), Mikel Arteta’s men will have a huge challenge on their hands.
And even though in-form man Ilkay Gundogan is a doubt, the Cityzens have been boosted by the return of Kevin De Bruyne. And given their overall quality across the pitch and the run of form that they are in of late, another win should be on the cards for Pep Guardiola & co. taking them another step closer to the title.