Manchester City will host Arsenal in a top-of-the-table clash that could decide the direction of the Premier League title race.

In the last few weeks, talk of a treble continued to pick up momentum as Pep Guardiola’s men fortified their position in three different competitions. Manchester City barely had to break a sweat in the context of regaining momentum in the Premier League title chase as Arsenal continued to drop valuable points.

The weekend before last, a win over Leicester City gave Manchester City the impetus to close the gap on the Gunners. After that, they consolidated their place in the Champions League semi-finals with a thorough aggregate win over Bayern and then dispatched off Sheffield United with ease to reach the FA Cup Final.

Pep Guardiola will want his side to continue with their forward momentum and keep their home Premier League form intact. Manchester City have played 12 games at the Etihad this year, winning them all and scoring at least two goals per game. The manager will hope for a ‘lucky’ 13 at the venue and will certainly hope to wrestle the title out of Arsenal’s reach.

Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta is preparing his side for what seems like the season-defining game. A win here will instil the confidence Arsenal need to try and win the remainder of their games, while a loss could dampen their hopes beyond repair.

After leading the table for most of the season, it will come as a disappointment for Arsenal to surrender the title so late in the season. For the third game running, the Gunners drew a Premier League game, with last week’s clash with bottom-placed Southampton drawing more criticism of their performances.

Arsenal were a goal down in the first minute owing to Aaron Ramsdale’s error. After that, they were under pressure to get back into the clash, only to find themselves two-nil down. With the score 1-3 heading into the final five minutes, Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka got their goals, as Arteta saw attempts from Reiss Nelson and Leandro Trossard go agonisingly close.

Team News & Tactics

Manchester City

Nathan Ake has been an important player for Pep Guardiola this season, and his absence could weaken their team. The Dutchman suffered a thigh problem against Bayern Munich and will miss out against Arsenal. Beyond him, Manchester City have a clean bill of health, with the manager set to pick his strongest team.

Aymeric Laporte is the natural replacement for Ake on the left side of the back three. Guardiola emphasises a back three over playing full-backs on either wing. John Stones will return to the side after his weekend rest and take his new inverted right-back position.

Riyad Mahrez’s hat-trick against Sheffield will also push his name on the team sheet, as Guardiola looks to fit the Algerian in his flowing system. Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva will assume creative duties behind star striker Erling Haaland. Ilkay Gundogan and Rodri will continue with their midfield partnership and will have support from behind as Ruben Dias and Laporte marshall the central defence.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Ederson; Stones, Dias, Laporte; Mahrez, Rodri, Gundogan, Grealish; De Bruyne, Silva; Haaland

Manchester City XI vs Arsenal


Mikel Arteta confirmed William Saliba’s absence from yet another game, as earlier on Monday, reports in the media suggested the defender could miss the remainder of the season. It’s a hammer blow for Arsenal, who had hoped to have the Frenchman back for the trip to the Etihad.

Rob Holding, who has come in for plenty of criticism for his displays, will continue at the back alongside Gabriel Magalhaes. Meanwhile, Arteta also suggested that Granit Xhaka remains a doubt for the Man City game, as he has yet to recover from the illness that kept him out of the Southampton clash.

If Xhaka does train today, he will certainly start in the three-man midfield alongside Thomas Partey and Martin Odegaard. If he does not, Arteta might show reluctance in starting the ineffective Fabio Vieira in his place. Then, Jorginho or Leandro Trossard could become an option after impressing off the bench.

Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ben White will retain their full-back roles. In the attack, there might not be any changes from Arteta. Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli will hold the width and support central striker Gabriel Jesus.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ramsdale; Ben White, Holding, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Odegaard, Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Jesus, Martinelli

Arsenal XI vs Manchester City

Key Stats

  • Manchester City have won their last seven games against Arsenal in all competitions.
  • Manchester City have won all their 12 games at the Etihad in 2023, scoring at least 2 goals in those clashes.
  • Manchester City have won their last six Premier League games.
  • Arsenal are unbeaten in their last ten games in the Premier League.
  • Arsenal’s 36 points out of a possible 48 makes them the best away side in the Premier League.

Player To Watch

Martin Odegaard

It is a strange pick, considering Arsenal’s wide forwards are the only players in top form. Odegaard went missing in their game against Southampton, only to show up late with a goal. For large parts of the season, the Gunners’ skipper has asserted himself in games, bringing positive results.

Arteta will hope there is a dramatic upturn in form and Odegaard regains his confidence ahead of the season’s most important game. In games where the Norwegian disappears, Arsenal tend to struggle for large periods, something the attacking midfielder must rectify ahead of the trip to the Etihad.


Manchester City 2-1 Arsenal

Arsenal may have performed well in their two games against Manchester City this season. But Pep Guardiola’s men are a different animal at the Etihad. Moreover, there is plenty at stake coming into this game, and Arsenal might feel the pressure of the title and playing a team rampaging through on three fronts.

Moreover, Manchester City come into this game with superior squad depth and with most players that Guardiola deems the first choice. Arsenal are missing a key link in William Saliba, which could come to cost them this game and possibly the Premier League title. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Guardiola and his charges.

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