Preview: Man City vs Arsenal
Arsenal will have to overcome their latest injury set-backs and raise their game when they visit the champions at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
The Gunners have already won and drawn against the Citizens this season in the Community Shield and the league respectively, but they lost 6-3 in their last visit to the Etihad last season.
They come into this game reeling from a double injury blow as captain Mikel Arteta and full-back Mathieu Debuchy have both gone under the surgeon’s knife in recent days. Both are ruled out for much of the rest of this season.
While Arsene Wenger will have to reluctantly dip into the January transfer market, he will hope his current squad have enough to collect Arsenal’s first league win of the season against the other the big four sides. The Gunners lost against Chelsea and Manchester United while sharing the spoils with Manchester City and Liverpool in the first-half of the season.
For Manchester City, this is a must win encounter after they dropped points at Goodison Park in a 1-1 draw with Everton. City are now two points behind league leaders Chelsea so Manuel Pellegrini will hope to at least stop the gap from widening by collecting maximum points in this contest.
This game will also see two of Premier League’s brightest strikers go head to head as Alexis Sanchez and Sergio Aguero have been the focal points for their sides, plundering 26 league goals between them.
Their similarities have sparked good debates among fans on who is the best striker in the division since they are both 26 years old, with similar height, weight and playing style. While Aguero may be a better finisher with a more impressive goal return, Sanchez works harder and is free from niggling injuries so a strong case can be made for each of these incredible strikers.
Manchester City team news
- New signing Wilfried Bony and Yaya Toure are the only players absent for City as they are away at the Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
Arsenal team news
- Arteta (ankle) and Debuchy (shoulder) will join Abou Diaby (calf), Jack Wilshere (ankle) and Serge Gnabry (knee) on the sidelines.
- Danny Welbeck could return after missing a couple of games recently with a thigh injury.
Man City vs Arsenal prediction
Vincent Kompany and Aguero should return to the starting XI with the Argentine leading City’s attacks in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The Brazilian pair of Fernando and Fernandinho may start in central midfield while David Silva should retain his place in the number 10 role, with Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas flanking the Spanish playmaker.
Wenger may set his side up in a similar system with Aaron Ramsey joining Francis Coquelin as the holding midfielders while Santi Cazorla, Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain support Olivier Giroud as the attacking midfielders.
Calum Chambers should pip Hector Bellerin for the right-back spot in the absence of Debuchy while Kieran Gibbs may return to left-back after missing the win over Stoke last weekend.
Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool proved that the Gunners are not suited to just sitting and absorbing pressure so Wenger may detail his players to show respect for City when defending but then try to express their passing football when in possession.
City will obviously be favourites and Pellegrini will want his side to keep play in Arsenal’s half for as long as they can but this could be a game of spells with the points going to the side that takes their chances when on top.