Manchester City can extend their winning streak over Arsenal to six games on Sunday afternoon at the Emirates Stadium, as Pep Guardiola’s side look to make it 11 wins from his last 12 visits to the capital.
In a week that has been all about potential leaders in the UK, Freddie Ljungberg remains in caretaker charge of Arsenal, following the sacking of Unai Emery last month. It is however, Guardiola’s right hand man Mikel Arteta who is rumoured to be one of the front runners for the vacant Gunners job. Arteta, who joined Manchester City’s backroom staff when Guardiola joined in 2016, has been the Blues’ assistant manager ever since Domènec Torrent moved to sister club New York City in 2018.
Manchester City will remain without Sergio Aguero and John Stones, who are both out through thigh injuries, while club captain David Silva is a “doubt” after picking up a knock. Ederson has however recovered from the illness that forced him to withdraw from the squad in Croatia on Wednesday. Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane continue their recoveries from ligament operations, while Oleksandr Zinchenko is expected to return to the Blues’ squad, after making his first appearance in the 4-1 win in the Champions League following surgery to his knee.
Arsenal will be without summer signing Kieran Tierney, after he dislocated his shoulder earlier in the week against West Ham. The Gunners may also be without defender Hector Bellerin, and club record signing Nicholas Pepe.
HEAD TO HEAD
The Blues are unbeaten in eight of their last nine games, with the exception being a 2-1 defeat in the FA Cup in 2017. In all competitions, Manchester City have won their last five matches against Arsenal by a combined score of 14-2. These included a 2-0 win at the Emirates last season, and a 3-1 win at the Etihad in February.
The first ever meeting between the two sides was in the old second division in 1893, making Sunday’s match the 198th fixture between them, with City having won 55, drawn 45 and lost 97 of those meetings.
Sergio Aguero is Manchester City’s top scorer in the fixture, with 11 goals against Arsenal, but it will be Gabriel Jesus who leads the line this weekend, following the Argentine’s injury.
Both teams come into the match struggling for form, with Manchester City sat in 3rd on 32 points – Guardiola’s lowest ever points tally after 16 games. The Blues have two wins in their last five league matches, and suffered their fourth defeat of the season to Manchester United last Saturday. They are however, the leagues top-scorers with 44 goals already this season, averaging 2.75 goals per game.
Arsenal have only managed one win in their last five, which came on Monday night against West Ham at the London Stadium. Arsenal are 9th in the table, ten points behind Sunday’s opposition, with only five wins so far this season – that is three times less than leader’s Liverpool and half that of Manchester City’s. They have also struggled defensively, having conceded 24 goals and kept just two clean sheets. Arsenal’s goalkeepers have made the most saves (69) and have made 72 blocks – the second highest in the league since August.
Given the defensive struggles on both sides, along with their attacking ability, the match could be quite an open and entertaining affair. Manchester City will no doubt play a 4-3-3 while Arsenal caretaker boss Freddie Ljungberg has enjoyed playing a 4-2-3-1, with five players spread across the midfield. But having seen the struggles Manchester United caused City on the counter-attack, could Arsenal look to start with a front three, given their visible pace when going forward?
Paul Tierney will take charge of his 68th Premier League match at the Emirates and will be accompanied by Constantine Hatzidakis and Harry Lennard. Andre Marriner will be the fourth official while Chris Kavanagh and Sian Massey-Ellis will be on VAR duties.
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