Manchester City play Arsenal in a crucial game for the Citizens; following their surprise defeat to Newcastle, the gauntlet has been laid out to ensure they keep accumulating the wins to keep the pressure on league leaders Liverpool.
Manchester City vs Arsenal Preview and Prediction
The question is, will the Gunners face a wounded beast or a whimpering one?
Fact of Interest:
- Man City have beaten Arsenal in their last 4 consecutive competitive fixtures. Arsenal’s last win over the Citizens was the 2-1 FA Cup semifinal at Wembley in April 2017.
- Arsenal’s last league win at the Etihad was January 2015’s 2-0 away win, courtesy of a goal and assist masterclass by former midfielder Santi Cazorla.
- Man City have won 11 of their 12 home league games this season, the best home record in the league in terms of total points (33). They’ve scored 40 goals at home, which is far ahead of the rest of the pack in terms of home goals scored. They’re currently enjoying a 4 game winning streak in home league matches.
- Arsenal’s away record is tepid, having won only 4 of their 11 away league matches. Their 22 goals conceded away from home is worsened only by Fulham (30) and Bournemouth (25). They’ve not won any away game in the league since beating Bournemouth 5 matches ago.
- Manchester City’s goals are spread relatively evenly in matches, with 51% of their goals this season coming in the second half of matches.
- Arsenal have scored 68% of their league goals thus far in the 2nd half of matches, with nearly a third of all goals arriving in the final 15 minutes.
- Sergio Aguero has scored 8 goals in 15 appearances against Arsenal, but never more than a single goal at a time when playing against the Gunners.
- Raheem Sterling has scored 4 goals in 12 appearances against Arsenal in total, with 2 goals in 7 matches wearing Man City blue.
- Leroy Sane has scored 3 goals in 6 appearances against Arsenal, but never more than a single goal at a time when playing against the Gunners.
- Pierre Emerick Aubameyang has never scored against Man City across his 3 appearances against them.
- Alexandre Lacazette has scored 1 goal in 2 substitute appearances against Man City.
Both clubs had to navigate league matches in midweek, with Man City needing to travel to the north east for their shock defeat to Newcastle, while Arsenal hosted Cardiff in a well fought win.
Man City left back Benjamin Mendy remains a long term injury absentee. Arsenal’s injury crisis has worsened with Hector Bellerin joining Rob Holding, Danny Welbeck with long term injuries. Koscielny and Sokratis remain doubtful due to knocks sustained in the FA Cup defeat to Manchester United. Henrikh Mkhitaryan may be an outside bet to make his return to the squad.
Expected Line-ups and Tactical Considerations:
At least until the defeat in midweek, as if somewhat affronted by giving up the lead in the title race, Man City’s last few matches made for frightening reading; 9 wins in a row in all competitions, including 6 clean sheets to completely give way to the suggestion that their defensive problems would undermine their title challenge’s recovery. The tepid performance against Newcastle was duly punished, but to underestimate them would be folly. They still dominate the league in average possession (64%), shots per game (17) and total goals scored (63). Guardiola’s 433 has become refined during the same period, and the rotation in midfield with returning players from injury has made the team even more formidable to beat.
Guardiola will likely throw in a mix of his most creative assets to take advantage of Arsenal’s injury crisis. Ederson, Danilo, Laporte, Stones and Walker are most primed to return to the back five, given recent form and consistent use. It wouldn’t be surprising to see more creative emphasis return to the midfield with Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva; the only question would be whether Fernandinho loses his place in midfield to the more industrious Ilkay Gundogan following the former’s sub-par showing against Newcastle. Up front, the front trio has been broadly choosing itself, given the recent form of Sterling, Aguero, and Sane.
Arsenal’s form feels as inconsistent as the tactical configurations employed by Unai Emery, who despite coaching the side to some possession dominant performances, hasn’t found the results following the constant switches he makes from match to match. Arsenal’s away league form is nothing short of awful in recent matches, and with Emery’s side yet to find a way to keep a clean sheet against any away side they’ve faced thus far this season, it doesn’t bode well for the Gunners to find obvious ways to manage the lethal Man City attack at the Etihad.
Assuming Emery shifts again to the 4312 used against Chelsea to negate the 433 likely to be used by Guardiola, the injury ravaged backline Leno should feature Kolasinac at left back, a centre back pairing of Mustafi with either Monreal or Xhaka alongside at centre back, and Swiss veteran Lichsteiner at right back. The midfield will presumably take on a far more combative shape to combat the Man City attack, featuring Guendouzi, Torreira, and either Ramsey or Elneny, assuming the former doesn’t take a more advanced role at the 10. Mesut Ozil may yet start again at the 10 behind Aubameyang and Lacazette, unless Emery prefers to stretch the Man City defence with Alex Iwobi alongside the front pair in a 433.
Match Facts & Summary
|Head to Head||Man City||Arsenal|
|Current Season Record||Played 24, Won 18, Lost 4||Played 25, Won 14, Lost 5|
|Current Season Top Scorers||Aguero (11), Sterling (10)||Aubameyang (15), Lacazette (9)|
|Last 10 Competitive Matches||Man City 5 Wins, 2 Draws, Arsenal 3 Wins|
|Last 10 Competitive Matches at Etihad||Man City 6 Wins, 2 Draws, Arsenal 2 Wins|
|Last Season’s Result||Man City 3-1 Arsenal|
|Odds of Interest (as at 30 Jan)||Man City||Arsenal|
|Odds – Result (Draw = 5.40)||0.26||9.36|
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Arsenal are all but predictable at present, and the tSpurs vs Manchester United Prediction | Betting Odds and Previewhreat posed by the full potential of an attacking trio of Ozil, Aubameyang and Lacazette has been broadly denied to Premier League audiences, though Emery has threatened to start working towards that in recent team selections. There’s enough talent in the Gunners attack and midfield to cause Man City inherent problems. There’s also favourable psychology at work in this fixture, with the hosts under extra pressure to win due to recent defeat, the gap to 1st and the expectation of resolving such a responsibility at Man City’s home ground.
But Arsenal’s defensive crisis can’t be underesimated. Only Kolasinac resembles anything like the first choice in the back 4 ahead of Leno. Monreal is usually backup for his Bosnian colleague at left back, but has instead been drawn into makeshift centre back (which he has done before, but not as a rule). Mustafi is comfortably the lesser preferred of the centre back options at Arsenal, having played more out of necessity due to injuries elsewhere. Lichsteiner’s experience may not compensate fully for a lack of speed and quickness in dealing with Sterling or Sane.
To that end, it comes down to how much pressure Man City feel obligated to exert on league leaders Liverpool. Guardiola has more than enough weapons on both the field and the bench to take all 3 points comfortably against Arsenal. His side will need to prove that they can increase the tension at Anfield with a swift response to the defeat against Newcastle, and with Arsenal’s injury woes and the Citizens’ imposing home record, it’s hard to see how Emery prevents another win for Guardiola’s challengers.
Please note betting odds quoted are correct at time of publication and are subject to change. View the latest EPL Betting Odds