Manchester City and Arsenal take on one another in a titanic clash at the Etihad, which gives us an opportunity to watch one massive game from nine years ago at this venue.

Since Mikel Arteta took over as Arsenal manager, he has managed only three victories over Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. That sub-par tally has come in around 12 games, with none of these encounters ever finishing in a draw. It clearly shows how dominant Manchester City have been under the Catalan, although a chunk of Arsenal’s wins have come this season.

After suffering title heartache at the Etihad last season when the relentless Manchester City side swept the Gunners to a 4-1 win, Arteta had another decision in his mind: how to bring his team to the level of the champions and go toe-to-toe with them next season.

Arteta may have found his solution in the subsequent two games, where he restricted Manchester City to have a bare minimum impact in the attacking third. The world’s ‘deadliest striker’ Erling Haaland barely had any chances, while Manchester City were restricted to one and zero shots on target in those two games.

The Arsenal manager will want a similar performance from his players when he takes the team to the Etihad to take on Manchester City on Sunday. However, Guardiola, on the other hand, will aim to invoke the spirit of last season when Manchester City looked in relentless form, sweeping everything aside that came their way.

It’s imperative for Manchester City to find that rhythm, and should they fail to do that against Arsenal on Sunday, Guardiola will find himself chasing two formidable rivals with nine games to go. Hence, the clash at the Etihad is more than just a big game; it is a titanic title decider of sorts, something that has not happened in many years, considering the significance it carries.

Hence, it is imperative for either side to win, as a draw will likely hand Liverpool a big advantage, as Arsenal experienced before the international break. The Gunners have not won at this venue since 2015, a game in which we saw a Santi Cazorla masterclass, which also happens our classic clash in focus.

Here we look back at that momentous clash at the Etihad when Cazorla ran riot against a formidable Manchester City. Arteta will want to watch that fixture again and set the standards for his team ahead of the titanic clash on Sunday.

Laying the Setting

Arsenal and Manchester City have had really good seasons so far, with both teams in contention for the Premier League and Champions League crowns. Pep Guardiola’s men are also considered favourites to lift the ‘treble’ in consecutive seasons, while the Gunners are eager to break their duck in Europe and bring domestic glory back to North London.

Starting with Arsenal, Arteta has clearly transformed this side and taken them to a new level, even compared to their standards last season. Arsenal were in the thick of a title race in the previous campaign but dramatically fell off in the last nine games, despite having an eight-point advantage over Manchester City, who did have a game in hand.

Arteta will hope his players do not ‘bottle’ the league this time around, although Arsenal has looked much more assured and solid in their overall demeanour. There were doubts back at the end of December when they lost back-to-back games against West Ham United and Fulham, after which they were considered down and out of the race.

An FA Cup exit followed those losses in an otherwise quiet January. But Arsenal have since bounced back in style. In their eight games in 2024, the Gunners have scored an incredible 33 goals while conceding only four times in that period. They are currently the league’s best attacking and defensive unit, which has signs of a title-chasing team.

They have also successfully come back from a five-point deficit over Liverpool and are currently at the top of the table on goal difference and level of points with the Reds. Moreover, they also progressed to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals courtesy of a penalty shootout win over FC Porto. Overall, the Gunners are well in contention for the two big crowns, and they have Manchester City rivalling them in a big way.

There is a bogus possibility that Manchester City will play Arsenal two more times in the Champions League, should both teams progress from their quarter-finals. For now, Guardiola will only think about Sunday and the task at hand, with the need to Arsenal looming big on his mind.

Manchester City have not been at their best, yet have found itself in contention for the ‘treble’ once again. Last season, they achieved that feat and are favourites to do so again. They have a date with Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals, while they face Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals.

For now, they have Arsenal at the weekend, and it is a big game for either side. Many have suggested that the winner of this contest could potentially run towards the Premier League, but Liverpool re also present in the race. Sunday does promise to be a fantastic clash and an advert for the league, something a game back in January 2015 also did.

What happened on January 18, 2015?

Arsenal were not a bad team as they have been made out when looking back at those years. Arsene Wenger had trained his side to regularly compete for the top four, although they always lagged behind in the contention for the title.

In any case, back in January 18, 2015, Arsenal, firmly established in the top four race, travelled to the Etihad to take on title-chasing Manchester City. Most predictions sided with Manchester City getting another win over the Gunners. But Santi Cazorla had other plans.

The Spaniard, fresh from starting his new role in central midfield alongside surprise returnee Francis Coquelin, put Manchester City to the sword. Not only did he get a goal and assist for his cause, but he also ran a rampage in that midfield, leaving some of the top professionals in that Manchester City side baffled.

There are many clips that Arsenal fans like to run on social media about that tremendous performance from Cazorla. In the first half, Vincent Kompany fouled Nacho Monreal in the box, resulting in a penalty, which Cazorla duly converted.

Arsenal then went on to hold their advantage well into the second half, where Cazorla was once again instrumental in doubling the lead. The Spaniard floated a brilliant free-kick inside the box, which Olivier Giroud got the faintest of touches to send past Joe Hart. That win has remained in the memories of Arsenal fans for a long time, and this time around, Arteta plans to add to that a solid win at the Etihad on Sunday.

The Aftermath

In light of Arsenal’s win in 2015 over Manchester City, the Gunners did get a boost in confidence but went on to finish third in the league. Arsene Wenger did not have a squad good enough to compete for the title and go deep in European competitions, meaning the Gunners had to settle for a top-four place.

The very next season, Arsenal did challenge for the title, only for them to meet the historic Leicester City side who stole away the title and hearts. The Gunners had many superstar players like Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, and Olivier Giroud alongside Cazorla. However, that was a period when they always looked short by one player in each key position.

Manchester City had been competing for the title for most parts of the season and wanted to retain the Premier League won from the previous campaign. However, Chelsea, led by Jose Mourinho, proved too strong for anyone as they finished the season comfortably ahead.

It would not be until 2018 that Manchester City wins the Premier League title again, which also marked the first under current boss, Guardiola. Meanwhile, Arsenal have not win a title since the Invincibles season in 2003/04, as Arteta eyes a change to that trajectory.

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