Sunday 8th May – 16:00 – Etihad Stadium
A key reason why Leicester City have won the Premier League this season is the failure of the so called ‘bigger clubs’, including Manchester City and Arsenal. But now one of the two may even miss out on the top four and a place in next season’s Champions League. The hosts opportunity to qualify through the competition itself was lost in midweek as they were beaten 1-0 by Real Madrid in the semi-final, and they are currently in a precarious position in fourth after a 4-2 defeat to Southampton last weekend. They are only four points ahead of rivals Manchester United in fifth who have a game in hand and three points behind visitors Arsenal in third. That means a victory for the Gunners at the Etihad Stadium would ensure their spot amongst Europe’s elite for the 19th consecutive campaign. Last weekend Arsene Wenger’s side beat strugglers Norwich City 1-0 as protesters continued to demand for the Frenchman’s North London departure despite now being unbeaten in eight league games. His opposite number Manuel Pellegrini will be leaving the Premier League this summer, making this fixture his final home game as City manager.
- Captain Vincent Kompany won’t be involved after suffering a groin injury during the defeat by Real Madrid on Wednesday.
- David Silva (hamstring), Pablo Zabaleta (calf) and Aleksandar Kolarov (knock) have also been ruled out because of injury.
- Yaya Toure struggled in the number 10 role in midweek so could either move further back or be dropped from the starting XI completely.
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will miss the rest of the season and Euro 2016 after suffering his second knee injury of the campaign.
- Per Mertesacker is out for the next two matches with a hamstring problem.
- After scoring the winning goal as a substitute against Norwich, Danny Welbeck may push for a recall to replace Olivier Giroud, who has not scored in his last 15 league games.
The Key Battle: Bacary Sagna vs Alex Iwobi
With Pablo Zabaleta out injured, Bacary Sagna will step in at right-back against his former club. After moving from the Emirates Stadium in 2014, the Frenchman found opportunities hard to come by last season, but in 2015-16, he has made 25 league starts with Zabaleta sidelined for the majority of the campaign. He has even played in the centre of defence a few times.
Sagna is yet to score in a Citizens shirt, so a goal on Sunday against his former employers really would be a surprise, but the 33 year old has three assists and could whip a few dangerous balls from the flank if given the freedom to bomb forward.
Meanwhile, Alex Iwobi has been Arsenal’s break out star of this season, and at 20 years old, scored two goals in his first two Premier League starts. The goals may have dried up since then, but the winger has still been a bright spark in these last few months of the campaign.
Iwobi has chosen to play for Nigeria after featuring for England’s youth teams, showing the young talent the African nation has to offer, which also include’s City’s Kelechi Iheanacho, who has seven goals in five league starts.
Manchester City wins = 49 / Arsenal wins = 95 / Draws = 43
*According to www.11v11.com
Last Meeting: Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City (21st December 2015)
Arsenal moved to within two points of surprise Premier League leaders Leicester City with victory over Manchester City at Emirates Stadium. City dominated early possession but Kevin de Bruyne wasted a good chance and Theo Walcott punished the visitors with a right-foot finish from 20 yards in the 33rd minute. Eliaquim Mangala’s dreadful clearance allowed Mesut Ozil’s 15th assist of the season as he set up Olivier Giroud for an angled finish in first-half stoppage time. Yaya Toure’s clever shot from outside the area set up a tense finale which saw both Toure and substitute Wilfried Bony waste chances to equalise. [Full BBC report]
Manuel Pellegrini: “It’s a special game because we finish here at home after three intensive years. We’ve always received support of the fans, so we’re really happy with them. For me, the second season was the worst – if we can finish in third in this third season it wouldn’t be extraordinary but still a good season. I will have emotions on Sunday but I prefer not to show them in an external way.”
Arsene Wenger: “We have regrets because we had a chance to finish top of the league. Our target now is to secure our position in the Champions League next year. If possible, to get in second place and at least secure third and on Sunday we can achieve that. If we win the two games, we will be all right.”
The Referee – Anthony Taylor
- Last Premier League game: Watford 3-2 Aston Villa (30th April 2016) – 5 yellow cards, 1 red card
- Last Manchester City game: Manchester City 1-3 Leicester City (6th February 2016) – 4 yellow cards, o red cards
- Last Arsenal game: Arsenal 4-0 Watford (2nd April 2016) – 2 yellow cards, 0 red cards
2015-16 Record: Games = 43 / Yellow cards = 151 / Red cards = 7 / Penalties = 8
Stat of the Match
Manchester City have already lost five league games at home this season – as many as they had lost in their previous four league campaigns combined. However, Arsenal only have two wins in their last nine league away games.
Where Can I Watch It?
Sky Sports 1 are showing the game live from 3:30pm on Sunday afternoon, with kick-off half an hour later. Alternatively, the highlights will be on BBC One’s Match of the Day 2 that evening at 10:30pm.
My Prediction: Manchester City 1-1 Arsenal
A point that will please Arsenal more than Manchester City, as it may see them drop to fifth by the final game next weekend if other results go against them. I think Sergio Aguero will score the opening goal, but Mesut Ozil will equalise to make it honours even at the Etihad Stadium.