Manchester City aim to build on their recent form and pile more pressure on Arsenal and Mikel Arteta when the two Premier League giants meet at the Etihad.
Manchester City haven’t had the best of starts to their Premier League campaign, losing the opening game to Tottenham. That was also their second competitive game, having lost the Community Shield contest to Leicester City. However, the champions found their rhythm against Norwich City, thrashing the Canaries 5-0.
With three points in the bag, Pep Guardiola will turn his attention towards Arsenal. Manchester City will want to head into the international break with momentum on their side. Things are not entirely positive at the Etihad; the Harry Kane transfer falling through and the Benjamin Mendy situation might have dampened the mood.
However, they can look forward to facing Arsenal and aim to get a positive result. Man City have recently had a successful period against the Gunners, beating the side twice the last term.
Arsenal have had the worst start to a Premier League season as far as fans can remember. The loss to Brentford and Chelsea has added pressure on Arteta and the squad to get points on board. The Gunners also failed to score in either of their opening games, with fans asking more questions about the club’s ambitions.
However, Arteta’s side got a breather when they thrashed West Brom by six goals in the Carabao Cup during midweek. The Gunners played a fluid style of football not common during Arteta’s reign at the club, and fans will be hoping to see more of the same against Man City.
The FA Cup semifinal win back in the 19/20 season remains Arsenal’s most recent victory over Man City. However, at the Etihad, they haven’t beaten the champions in the last five league meetings. Arteta will be hoping to take his team into the international break with some level of optimism, and it’s only possible with a positive result against Man City.
Team News & Tactics
Manchester City have few injury troubles heading into this clash with Arsenal. Kevin De Bruyne is definitely out of the game, joining Phil Foden on the sidelines. Meanwhile, Benjamin Mendy has been suspended by the club.
Gabriel Jesus, who was impressive against Norwich, will keep his place in the side and probably get another chance to impress Guardiola in the no.9 role. In defence, Aymeric Laporte could get an extended run, as John Stones is yet to find full fitness levels. Ruben Dias will be the Spaniard’s central defensive partner.
Joao Cancelo could be preferred yet again at left-back in place of Ukrainian Oleksandr Zinchenko. Kyle Walker is likely to start on at right-back.
With Jesus set to play, Guardiola will tinker with his attacking lineup. Ilkay Gundogan could be pushed to the bench by Grealish. The former Aston Villa star scored his first goal against Norwich after starting out on the left flank. However, Raheem Sterling could be recalled into the lineup, pushing Grealish in a deeper role.
Rodri could start at the base of midfield, with wantaway midfielder Bernado Silva occupying the remaining midfield slot. Riyad Mahrez could start on the right flank to continue his decent partnership with the Portuguese behind him.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo; B.Silva, Rodri, Grealish; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling
Arsenal have been missing many key starters in the first two games and could be without a few if not all on Saturday as well. Thomas Partey remains sidelined with an ankle injury. Defender Gabriel has returned to training and featured in the U23s clash against Tottenham, seeing 45 minutes of action.
Bellerin, Saka and Tierney available for tomorrow’s game against Man City.
Gabriel, Willian and Runarsson are back in training.
Partey set to return to training next week. #AFC
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) August 27, 2021
The Brazilian should be back in the lineup after the break. Kieran Tierney, who limped off against Chelsea, is available again after training normally this week. So is Gabriel Martinelli, who featured from the bench against West Brom in midweek.
The Carabao Cup clash saw Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette’s returns after both had tested positive for Covid recently. Mikel Arteta also confirmed the absence of Ben White after yet another covid positive case in the Gunners’ camp.
It could let Rob Holding continue in the side, while Pablo Mari would likely be his central defence partner. Arteta still has to decide on a consistent right-back solution, with all available Hector Bellerin, Calum Chambers, and Cedric Soares. The Portuguese sat out the West Brom game, and could be set for a start against Man City. His inclusion will also depend on Arteta’s preferred system against City on Saturday.
If the manager decides on a back-three, he could also use Ainsley Maitland-Niles despite the midfielder’s uncertain future at the club. Mohamed Elneny started in the cup tie and could be back on the substitutes’ bench, with Albert Sambi Lokonga likely to begin the game alongside Granit Xhaka in central midfield.
Martin Odegaard is primed for a start alongside Emile Smith Rowe, who was an unused substitute in midweek. Bukayo Saka, after his lively performance midweek, looks fit again and a likely starter. Nicolas Pepe could, thus, find himself on the bench, along with Lacazette, because Aubameyang, after his hattrick, will lead the line.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Cedric, Holding, Mari, Tierney; Sambi, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Aubameyang
- Not since the 1954-55 season have Arsenal lost their first three games in a top-flight season
- Man City have won 10 of their last 11 games against Arsenal.
- Man City have failed to score just once in the last 35 games played at the Etihad.
- Arsenal’s eight consecutive loss to Man City is their joint-worst run (Leeds) against one Premier League side.
- Arsenal haven’t failed to score in their first three games since the 1953-54 season.
Player to Watch
The England star got off the mark against Norwich, but uncertainties around his future continue. It does seem that the arrival of Grealish could be to compete with him rather than play together week-in week-out. However, despite a stellar Euros, Sterling needs to prove a point to Guardiola to cement his place in the side.
He is set to start against Arsenal and could use his recent good form against the Gunners to ease the pressure. Sterling can be a key asset to Manchester City this season as the club aims to retain the Premier League and win the Champions League.
Manchester City 3-1 Arsenal
The Gunners have shown a tendency to spring surprises recently, although Manchester City are different gravy. The Gunners have not been able to beat them in the last few years, especially at the Etihad.
Expect a clean Manchester City victory, as they could score at least three goals. While the champions’ defence is stronger, Arsenal’s newfound rhythm could trouble them occasionally and possibly achieve a goal in the process. Nonetheless, Manchester City should take all three points against the Gunners to heap more pressure on Arteta.