The titanic clash between Manchester City and Arsenal promises entertainment, and a few essential stars will likely have a big say in the outcome of the game.

When Arsenal travel to the Etihad to take on Manchester City on Sunday, they had a slender lead at the top, but the pressure may have become unbearable. Mikel Arteta may have envisaged the outcome well before the ball was even kicked, but as many had predicted, Pep Guardiola overpowered the Gunners with ease.

Unlike that game, Arsenal come into the clash today brimming with confidence and, more importantly, with a complete set of their players. Gabriel Martinelli was under considerable doubt ahead of the game, but Arteta has already confirmed that the Brazilian could play a part.

Similarly, there is optimism on the fitness of Bukayo Saka and key defender Gabriel Magalhaes, while Arteta also has the availability of Thomas Partey, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Oleksandr Zinchenko. Even without the full-back pair, the Gunners have been watertight at the back, with Jakub Kiwior doing an excellent job in that left-back role.

Unlike Arsenal, Manchester City are missing two of their most essential defenders in Kyle Walker and John Stones. The latter is a big reason why Guardiola has not been able to find the right balance with his team, with the England international missing a lot of action due to multiple issues.

Moreover, should Martinelli somehow make it to the lineup, then Manchester City could feel the absence of Walker. Arteta may have a similar plan from the game at the Emirates to introduce the Brazilian at some stage of the game, which worked well for Arsenal, and that might be the case at the Etihad as well.

Despite the injuries and some doubtful nature of some players, Manchester City are still a formidable team and by far the favourites for this clash at the Etihad. There are some solid game-changers like Erling Haaland and Phil Foden at Guardiola’s disposal, alongside the formidable Kevin De Bruyne and Rodri, with the latter an omnipresent midfielder in that system this season.

Hence, there is a sense of unpredictability with this clash. But both teams have the chance to get a result in their favour. Ahead of this massive game, we look at three players who could have a telling impact on proceedings, with the list including Jakub Kiwior, Kai Havertz and Erling Haaland.

Jakub Kiwior

Around the time the January transfer window opened, there were reports stating Arsenal could offload Kiwior, with some Serie A clubs angling for a move. Sure enough, the circumstances surrounding the Polish international were different from how they are now.

Currently, Kiwior continues to keep Oleksandr Zinchenko and Takehiro Tomiyasu on the bench, having established himself within Arteta’s style and put in some commanding defensive performances at left-back.

With his displays since the turn of the year, he has not given Arteta any reason to change him from that role, as Ben White continues to invert into midfield from the other flank. In the second half against Liverpool, where he faced the threat of some formidable attackers, the Pole proved his case.

He is strong defensively, and against someone like Phil Foden or even Bernardo Silva, he could prove a tricky customer for the Manchester City attackers. Incidentally, around this period, Arsenal have conceded only four goals in about eight games, as the Gunners continue their stance as the best in the division.

Kai Havertz

Havertz has a fantastic record against Manchester City, and the fans at the Etihad would know how much he has come to hurt them in the past. Incidentally, he might be the missing piece that Mikel Arteta may have needed to challenge a side like Pep Guardiola’s.

While the defenders got all the plaudits for their watertight performance against the Cityzens in the Community Shield and the league clash at the Emirates, there is something about what Havertz brings to this side.

In the Community Shield tie, Havertz started in the centre-forward role, which transformed the Arsenal attack. He had a similar impact from the bench at the Emirates, providing the assist for Gabriel Martinelli’s winner late in that clash.

With Havertz now the starting centre-forward ahead of Gabriel Jesus, Eddie Nketiah, and Leandro Trossard, the German will be keen to assert himself against the Manchester City defence. His tall, physical presence can make him a nuisance for the opposition defence, something Arsenal have thrived with in recent times.

Erling Haaland

Since a performance worthy of the Norwegian unfurling his hair at the Etihad last season, Erling Haaland has struggled to cope with the Arsenal backline in the two games since. In the Community Shield and at the Emirates, William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes pocketed Haaland, and he will want to correct those performances.

A goalscoring performance at the Etihad would propel Manchester City firmly into the title race and also help him overcome this Arsenal hoodoo. By his enormous standards, Haaland is having a sub-par season, probably his first since making it to the big leagues. However, that has not deterred prospective suitors, including Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Haaland remains a formidable part of Guardiola’s plans, and these are games where he has to show he can fulfil the requirement of that lethal forward. Manchester City fans will want to see that partnership between Haaland and De Bruyne blossom once again, and a win over Arsenal would be the perfect time to do that.

Comments 1

  1. Will Martinelli Sakai and Gabriel play today or

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