It’s champion versus apprentice at Etihad on Saturday as Manchester City greeted Arsenal in what could be a deliciously delicious Premier League clash.
Premier League football will resume after a nearly two-week hiatus with the start of Gameweek 5 of the 2020/21 season. Five of the Big Six teams will be in action on Saturday, with two games in particular catching the eye. One such game will be played at Etihad, where Manchester City will host Arsenal.
Manchester City got off to a late start to the 2020/21 season after playing in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals last season. So far, the citizens of the Premier League have emerged three times and managed to just win. After Pep Guardiola & Co. failed to win the last two games. are in unknown territory and languish in 14th place on the table.
Arsenal, on the other hand, were reasonably solid at the start of the 2020/21 season. While the Gunners didn’t exactly set the stage on fire in the final third, they have become a tough side, which is reflected in the way they won close matches. Three out of four wins have brought Mikel Arteta’s men to fourth place in the Premier League, a good foundation to build on.
The corresponding game last season ended in a 3-0 win for Manchester City, with David Luiz embarrassing red for Arsenal too. Before the final meeting of the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Taktik
Kevin De Bruyne was excluded from the game against Arsenal. (Photo by Michael Regan / Getty Images)
Pep Guardiola just doesn’t seem to be able to avoid bad news when choosing the squad. The Manchester City manager will be without two first-team players on Saturday against Arsenal, although there is some good news to be welcomed.
Sergio Aguero recently returned to training which Guardiola was excited about. However, the Manchester City boss also confirmed in his pre-game press conference that Kevin De Bruyne will miss the Arsenal game after sustaining a muscle injury in the international outing against Belgium. Gabriel Jesus is also not available for the hosts.
With Jesus still unavailable and Aguero not yet fit enough to reach the starting grid, Raheem Sterling will likely lead the line between Manchester City and Arsenal. The English striker, recovering from his own blow, is flanked by Riyad Mahrez and Ferran Torres.
In De Bruyne’s absence, the creative responsibility will fall on Bernardo Silva’s shoulders, while Phil Foden will provide the legs from the middle of the park. Rodri will sit at the base of the three-man midfield unit and play the role of anchor man.
After all, there is no looking past Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte, Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker in defense. Dias and Laporte will mate at the heart of the Manchester City defense while Mendy and Walker will be the two full-backs, with Ederson Moraes starting in goal.
Expected formation (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Mendy; Silva, Rodri, Foden; Mahrez, Sterling, Torres
Much like his counterpart in the Manchester City dugout, Mikel Arteta is sweating over the possible availability of a key player. The Arsenal manager could lose the services of up to five first-team players on Saturday.
Pablo Mari (ankle), Calum Chambers (knee), Shkodran Mustafi (thigh) and Gabriel Martinelli (knee) were already unavailable. Arteta could also do without Kieran Tierney, with a possible quarantine for the Scottish international despite the Arsenal boss hoping to have Tierney available during his pre-game press conference.
With a cloud of uncertainty about Tierney’s availability, Gabriel Magalhaes is likely to launch to the left of Arsenal’s three-man central defense unit, with David Luiz and Rob Holding as his partners in the background. Bernd Leno is the obvious choice in goal while Hector Bellerin and Bukayo Saka should be the full-backs.
In midfield, the possible inclusion of Thomas Partey was the big issue. The Ghanaian midfielder, who joined Atletico Madrid on the deadline, has only had two training sessions since joining Arsenal. However, it is likely to be driven in depth, with Dani Ceballos providing the creative impetus from the center of the park.
In the attack, the first-choice trio of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Willian should finally reunite. Lacazette will lead the line for Arsenal against Manchester City while recovering from a blow Aubameyang and Willian are the two big men.
Expected formation (3-4-3): Leno; Hold on, Luiz, Gabriel; Bellerin, Ceballos, Partey, Saka; Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang
1. Both teams score a goal – YES @ 1.53
1. Full-time result – Draw @ 5.00
- Manchester City have been unbeaten in their last nine Premier League games against Arsenal (W7 D2) since losing 2-1 in December 2015. They scored at least twice in all nine games.
- Manchester City have only won four points from their three league games this season, the lowest total since 2010/11. Meanwhile, the citizens have only lost both opening games in one season twice in their league history – 1930/31 and 1953/54.
- Arsenal have won eight of their last 12 Premier League games (D1 L3), more than in the previous 28 games of the competition (W7 D13 L8). No team has scored more points in the Premier League than the Gunners (25) since their loss to Brighton in June.
- Manchester City have not won the last two Premier League games, most recently in April 2017 without a win in the competition (4). The third game of the run was a 2-2 draw against Arsenal.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored both goals in Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Manchester City in last season’s FA Cup semi-finals. However, he has played more minutes in the Premier League without scoring against Manchester City than any other opponent (450), including the lack of a penalty in March 2018.
Player to see
Will Aubameyang deliver the goods for Manchester City? (Photo by Alex Pantling / Getty Images)
He has been the contact person for Arsenal since he came from Borussia Dortmund almost three years ago. In fact, very few players have managed to consistently perform at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s level, let alone surpass her. As for Arsenal, no player lifts heavier than the captain himself.
However, his record against Manchester City in the Premier League is a rare mark on his notebook during his Arsenal stint. On Saturday, Aubameyang hopes to improve the record with the delivery of the goods in the last third.
Manchester City 1-1 Arsenal
Usually, Manchester City are strong favorites against Arsenal. After all, they dealt quite a blow to the Gunners when they last met in the Premier League. However, as the North Londoners demonstrated in the last FA Cup semi-finals, they are not an easy side.
With Manchester City missing their main playmaker and Sergio Aguero still not fit enough to start, the citizens could struggle to break a stubborn Arsenal defense. On the flip side, however, they shouldn’t be too concerned as Arsenal are one of the most gun-shy teams in the entire Premier League.
All in all, this has all the makings of a highly competitive proposition, one of which should end up with both sides sharing the booty. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle predicts the battle of master Pep Guardiola and apprentice Mikel Arteta to end the entire field in a 1-1 draw.
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