Manchester City will look to bounce back from their Manchester derby defeat over the weekend as they host Arsenal in the Premier League.
Arsenal managed to keep pace with clubs around and above them in the Premier League, with a narrow 1-0 London derby win over West Ham United. But, they still find themselves stranded at a burly 9th on the league table, despite having gone the last eight Premier League games without a defeat.
Manchester City on the other hand, seem to have accepted defeat in the seemingly impossible title chase and their form has taken a dip as well.
Two losses in the last five Premier League games will sting but the 2-0 derby defeat to local rivals Manchester United was perhaps, the deafening blow among the list of recent setbacks that also include a potential disbarment from European football for the next two seasons.
Arsenal have a tough run of games heading into the end of the season, with the Gunners still left with the task of facing five teams currently above them in the table out of the remaining 10 games. Manchester City on the other hand, have Leicester City breathing down their neck for second place.
The match is equally important for both teams; Arsenal need a win to keep the momentum going and Manchester City need it to arrest the rut before their return leg in the Champions League against Real Madrid. Before the two teams lock horns at Etihad, we take a closer look at the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
Aymeric Laporte and Kevin De Bruyne are both back in training but only the latter should be fit enough to start against Arsenal. Ederson made a couple of costly errors against Manchester United but should keep his place in front of the City goal. John Stones is likely to come into the starting lineup, replacing Nicolas Otamendi. Fernandinho should stay put.
Benjamin Mendy should replace Oleksandr Zinchenko on the left side of the back four while Kyle Walker should resume his duties on the right, with Joao Cancelo dropping out. In midfield, De Bruyne is set to return and David Silva should also come back into the starting lineup, with Bernardo Silva pushed out wide in attack. Ilkay Gundogan should complete the midfield.
Sergio Aguero went off injured against Manchester United and could sit the match against Arsenal out, with Gabriel Jesus leading the City frontline. Raheem Sterling will be looking to bounce back individually after a poor showing in the Manchester derby.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Fernandinho, Stones, Mendy; De Bruyne, Gundogan, David Silva; Bernardo Silva, Jesus, Sterling
Mikel Arteta is undergoing an injury crisis at Arsenal, with almost all of his full-backs out injured. Calum Chambers, Cedric Soares, Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac are all on the treatment table. Hector Bellerin has been playing through the pain and will have to be assessed before the match to make sure he makes it. If the Spaniard is available, he will start on the right side for Arsenal.
Sokratis and David Luiz should be centre-back pairing, even though Shkodran Mustafi has done well whenever given a chance. Bukayo Saka will continue to act as the makeshift left-back.
In midfield, Lucas Torreira is injured and will miss the game. Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi should be the midfield pairing. But, Arteta might want to give Dani Ceballos a start, with the Gunners needing creativity against Manchester City. Ideally, the front four should consist of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette.
Alternatively, Gabriel Martinelli’s record for Arsenal this season could see Arteta spring up a surprise in the starting lineup. Nevertheless, the Brazilian will be a formidable option to bring on from the bench, due to his pace and dribbling ability once the fitness levels of the opposition players start taking a hit.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, Sokratis, Luiz, Saka; Guendouzi, Xhaka; Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette
1. Arsenal have scored on each of their last six visits to the Etihad in the Premier League.
2. Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 8 Premier League games (4W, 4D).
3. Manchester City have kept a clean sheet in four of their last five meetings against Arsenal in all competitions.
4. Sergio Aguero will be a big miss for Manchester City if he isn’t fit enough to start. The Argentine has 11 goals in 15 matches against Arsenal.
5. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has 6 goals in his last 10 Premier League matches for Arsenal.
Player to Watch
The youngster has handled challenges well so far in a position that does not come naturally to him. But, Manchester City will prove to be the ultimate test, especially with Saka set to go up against the likes of Bernardo Silva, Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and more.
Saka will have to be more careful with his forward forays, for he may be caught out of position by Manchester City, especially with the pace of Sterling and Jesus.
Mikel Arteta doesn’t have an option. But, Saka could prove he is up to the task, as he has been so far, regardless of where he is played on the pitch.
Manchester City 3-1 Arsenal
Pep Guardiola would have surely given a hairdresser treatment to his players after a woeful display in the 2-0 defeat to Manchester United. But, the Manchester City manager will now try and elicit a response from his squad and Arsenal may have to bear the brunt of it.
Defensively, City are suspect. But, once they get on song going forward, it is tough to find teams that can match them play for play. We expect City to come out swinging, especially with Kevin De Bruyne returning to provide a creativity boost in midfield. An easy home win beckons.