Saturday 13th September – 12:45 – Emirates Stadium
Premier League football returns after the international break, and in today’s early kick-off, two of last season’s top four clubs face off as Arsenal host the champions Manchester City. For both clubs it is the precursor to big midweek Champions League ties in Germany (Arsenal face Borussia Dortmund and City come up against Bayer Munich) while for Manuel Pellegrini’s made, the kicker at the end of the week is provided by the visit of Chelsea. Victory today would represent a tonic, particularly, one feels, for Arsenal, whose record against top-four finishers in the last few seasons has been poor. The Gunners are unbeaten so far this season, drawing their last two games against Everton and Leicester City and winning their opening day encounter against Crystal Palace – their last home league game. City meanwhile were sent crashing down to earth before the international break, losing at home for the first time ever to Stoke City. They won their previous two games against Newcastle United and Liverpool.
The Key Battle: Danny Welbeck vs Vincent Kompany
Danny Welbeck signed for Arsenal on transfer deadline day for a fee of £16 million. He will be looking to instantly silence any doubters he may have after moving for such a large amount of money.
After scoring twice for England against Switzerland in a 2-0 win, Welbeck will be hoping to continue his form for his new club.
He will be up against one of the best centre backs in the Premier League in Vincent Kompany though, and the Belgian will be hoping to keep the Englishman quiet.
Kompany is without a doubt one of the best all round defenders in the league, and he will make it hard for Welbeck to make a good impression on his Arsenal debut.
Danny Welbeck could make his Arsenal debut against Manchester City, having scored twice for England on Monday.
Aaron Ramsey sprained his ankle playing for Wales on Monday and only has a small chance of playing, but Arsene Wenger remains confident that the inspirational midfielder will feature.
Mesut Ozil, Mikel Arteta and Kieran Gibbs are all fit after making just two league appearances between them all season.
- Manchester City midfielder Fernando has been ruled out with a groin injury which could keep him out for two weeks.
- Stevan Jovetic is also missing with a hamstring injury, but Frank Lampard and Eliaquim Mangala are in the squad and could make their debuts for the club.
- Pablo Zabaleta is confident he will be fit after being hurt in a heavy tackle with Arsenal’s Lukas Podolski during Argentina’s win over Germany last week.
Arsenal wins = 88 / Manchester City wins = 48 / Draws = 41
Last Meeting: Arsenal 3-0 Manchester City (10th August 2014)
Arsenal sent out a statement of intent for this season as they impressively dismissed Manchester City in the Community Shield at Wembley back in August. The FA Cup winners took the lead through Santi Cazorla’s angled shot and added to that when Aaron Ramsey drove in a strike to finish a counter-attack. Premier League champions City came close when Stevan Jovetic had a header hit the post and a shot saved. But Olivier Giroud’s dipping 25-yard strike secured Arsenal’s win. The victory was the first for Arsene Wenger’s side in the English season’s curtain raiser since 2004 and saw competitive debuts for Alexis Sanchez, Mathieu Debuchy, Calum Chambers, Fernando and Willy Caballero.
Stat of the Match
Arsenal conceded five goals or more in three Premier League games last season – all were 12.45 kick-offs against top-four finishers, including a 6-3 defeat against Manchester City.
Where can I watch it?
As with most games which kick-off at 12:45, BT Sport 1 is the place to be if you want to see the game live, and their coverage begins at midday. If you want to see the highlights as well, these can be seen on Match of Day this evening at 10:50 pm.
My Prediction: Arsenal 2-2 Manchester City
Both teams will want to really get their respective seasons going after the international break, but may have to settle for a draw in a expected exciting game in North London. I’m going for 2-2, with Danny Welbeck and Santi Cazorla to score for Arsenal, and Sergio Aguero to bag a brace for City.