Sunday 18th November – 16:00 – Etihad Stadium
Manchester City play host to Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League in the game of the weekend later today. The champions head into this much-anticipated encounter in red-hot form, with Manuel Pellegrini’s side currently unbeaten in their last 12 league contests, a run that includes nine wins – however they have drawn two of their last three games. Last weekend they had to settle for just a point against Everton at Goodison Park, and since then Pellegrini has been named Premier League manager of the month for December. Meanwhile, visitors Arsenal also arrive in the north west on an impressive run of late having managed nine victories in their last 12 games in all competitions. Their last fixture ended in a comfortable 3-0 win over Stoke City. Both teams are back in FA Cup action next weekend against Championship sides, as City host Middlesborough and the Gunners travel to Brighton, so Wenger and Pellegrini have no reason not to play their full strength sides.
The Key Battle: The battle in the middle of the park
Last season when these two sides met at The Etihad, City’s central midfield proved to be a vital in their 6-3 demolition of Arsenal. Particularly towards the end of the match after Mathieu Flamini had been substituted, Arsenal were left exposed time and time again by the likes of Yaya Toure and Fernandinho.
The midfield pair burst their way into Arsenal’s half on numerous occasions especially on the counter attack, which led to two late goals for the hosts. Arsenal have lacked a defensive midfielder since the days of Patrick Vieira and it has caused them problems against the top sides in recent seasons.
However, with Toure preparing for the African Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast, City have a slight disadvantage. As seen in the past, they have struggled without their leader in midfield who has often made the difference for them in big games.
City are likely to deploy Fernandinho and Fernando in the centre of midfield to stop Arsenal from playing their game and to expose them on the counter attack.
Whether Arsene Wenger deploys Flamini or Francis Coquelin as the holding midfielder along with either Aaron Ramsey or Tomas Rosicky it is yet to be seen. But Arsenal will need to find a way to control the central areas of the pitch or face a struggle against a very physical Fernandinho and Fernando. They cannot let last season’s mistakes happen again in a match they need points from.
- The champions’ midfielder Samir Nasri will be out for around three weeks with a calf problem, while striker Edin Dzeko is doubtful through injury.
- Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany are likely to start after being named on the bench last week following injury.
- The Argentine striker will likely take the place of Steven Jovetic, who he himself only returned from injury last week. Have we seen the last of the latter at City?
- Arsenal defender Mathieu Debuchy and midfielder Mikel Arteta have been ruled out for three months after surgery.
- Kieran Gibbs is doubtful with a heel problem, but Calum Chambers is expected to return following illness.
- It will be interesting to see who Arsene Wenger starts in goal, after dropping Wojciech Szczesny for David Ospina last weekend.
Manchester City wins = 48 / Arsenal wins = 88 / Draws = 42
Last Meeting: Arsenal 2-2 Manchester City (13th September 2014)
Arsenal were denied victory by Martin Demichelis’ late equaliser as they fought out an entertaining draw with Manchester City at Emirates Stadium. Danny Welbeck made his Arsenal debut after his £16 million move from Manchester United – and should have celebrated with a goal only to strike a post when clean through early on. Sergio Aguero made Arsenal pay for that miss by putting City ahead before half-time but goals from Jack Wilshere and Alexis Sanchez saw the Gunners in sight of a memorable victory. Their hopes were dashed when poor marking at a corner allowed Argentine defender Demichelis to beat Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny to earn a point seven minutes from time.
Stat of the Match
There have been six red cards in the last nine Premier League matches between these two sides.
Where can I watch it?
Sky Sports 1 are broadcasting the game live, with their coverage beginning at 3:30pm, whilst the highlights will be on Match of the Day 2 this evening at 10:30pm on BBC One.
My Prediction: Manchester City 2-1 Arsenal
Manuel Pellegrini’s side have scored in their last 18 Premier League games, and that’s unlikely to end against an Arsenal back line that changes every week. Sergio Aguero will want to get back to hot goalscoring form as soon as possible, and will get on the scoresheet, cancelling out Olivier Giroud’s opener. Then I think that City’s winner will come from David Silva.