With Chelsea six points clear and definitely top at Christmas, Man City and Arsenal have plenty of work to do if they are to keep up. Arsenal’s trip to the Etihad will show which of the two teams are most likely to push Chelsea all the way as the Blues aim to win their fifth Premier League title in eleven years.
Pep Guardiola has made the most lineup changes out of any manager in the league this season (55) and he will have to make some more on Sunday as he is still without top scorer Sergio Aguero and midfielder Fernandinho. As if this has not been challenging enough, Ilkay Gundogan will also be missing after injuring his right knee against Watford on Wednesday.
This will be Wenger and Guardiola’s first meeting in the Premier League. While Man City beat Watford 2-0 on Wednesday to ease the pressure on Guardiola, Wenger’s men suffered their second defeat of the season when they were beaten 2-1 at Goodison Park by a resurgent Everton.
Arsenal should be the more confident of the two sides going into this match as the Gunners are unbeaten in their last six games against Manchester City in all competitions (W3, D3). The last time Man City and Arsenal faced each other in the Premier League, it was a 2-2 draw with Aguero and De Bruyne on the scoresheet for Man City and Giroud and Sanchez getting the goals for Arsenal. The Gunners are currently third in the table with Man City just one point behind them in fourth. A draw will not do either team any favours, someone has to win.
Arsene Wenger wants his side to defend well, not be timid and try to attack against Man City. They are fully capable of doing this with joint top scorer Alexis Sanchez in the side, as well as Ozil, Bellerin and Walcott who regularly provide goals and assists. It will be interesting to see how Arsenal bounce back from the defeat they suffered against Everton. Man City’s win against Watford was far from convincing but they got the three points and will be looking to do the same thing at home against Arsenal.
Having Hector Bellerin back in the side is a major boost for Arsenal and the likes of Nicolas Otamendi, Aleksandar Kolarov or John Stones will have to work hard to keep him quiet in order to limit Arsenal’s attacking prowess. Man City are without some of their best players but they still have Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling who can punish Arsenal on the counter-attack.
Can Arsenal return to winning ways or will Man City triumph without their star players and leapfrog Arsenal in the table?