Arsenal face a daunting test as they welcome reigning champions Manchester City to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
The Citizens have bullied the north London side in recent seasons, winning each of the last five meetings in all competitions, but the Gunners will be hoping that losing streak ends there.
Beating Pep Guardiola’s team will be extremely difficult, but with Arsenal desperate to end their City hoodoo, the game played at the Emirates and Freddie Ljungberg looking to win over any doubters, it should make for a fascinating game.
Man City 9/20
Ljungberg will be looking to do what his predecessor Unai Emery couldn’t do in his two meetings with City last season and that is take points off Guardiola’s side. The Citizens have completed a league double over the Gunners in two consecutive seasons and the north London club will be desperate for that to change.
Arsenal haven’t beaten City in the Premier League since December 2015 when they won 2-1 at the Emirates, courtesy of goals from Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud. However, they have managed to get the better of Guardiola’s City, knocking them out of the FA Cup semi-finals in 2017, which they went on to win. But since then, the Gunners have lost every time they’ve come up against the Citizens and will be hoping to avoid a sixth successive defeat on Sunday.
This is a fixture Gooners dread, but if Ljungberg is able to get his line-up right, Arsenal will certainly have a chance, especially if the Swede starts with a front three of Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, although I suspect Pepe might be left on the bench.
Arsenal’s shambolic defensive performances is definitely a concern coming up against the league’s top scorers. The regular centre-back pairing of David Luiz and Sokratis looks like an accident waiting to happen, while Hector Bellerin is still getting back in the rhythm of first team action and it doesn’t help that Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney keep on rotating.
Bernd Leno has constantly had to bail his defence out of trouble and that’s what he’s there to do, but the defence have got to be switched on if the Gunners are to have any chance here.
Arsenal’s defensive struggles so far this season have been well documented and Manchester City will be confident of leaving the Emirates with maximum points. Guardiola’s side go into the game carrying the favourites tag, having won their last five matches in all competitions against the north London side – their longest-ever winning streak against them.
The defending champions will aim to extend that streak and pick up their sixth league win on the road this season. They thrashed Burnley 4-1 in their last away outing as Gabriel Jesus scored twice, while Rodri and Riyad Mahrez were also on target. That was arguably one of the best performances of the campaign and Guardiola will be hoping for more of the same.
The Spanish boss would have also been pleased with Jesus’ performance with star striker Sergio Aguero still an injury doubt. The Brazil international remains one of the best pressing centre forwards in the game, chasing the opposition and harrying for mistakes. He will have his eyes on causing Arsenal’s defence some problems.
In City’s past five meetings with the Gunners – which were all wins – they’ve scored 14 goals, while conceding just twice. That certainly bodes well for Guardiola’s side, especially with the North Londoners struggling for form, even at the Emirates.
Leno; Bellerin, Holding, Luiz, Tierney; Xhaka, Torreira, Willock; Ozil; Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Man City: 4-3-3
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Fernandinho, Angelino; Rodri, Silva, De Bruyne; Bernardo, Sterling, Jesus.
Prediction: Manchester City Win & Both Teams to Score (Yes) (5/4)
This is going to be a very tough game for Arsenal. City have dominated this fixture in recent seasons and I can’t see anything other than an away win. Guardiola’s side should have too much firepower for the North Londoners. For extra value, I suggest backing a City Win & Both Teams to Score at 5/4.
You might like to check out our Soccer / Football App