Man City face tough test against in-form Gunners to get season back on track
Man City to win 2-1
Manchester City are still likely to be challenging for all major honours by next summer, but manager Pep Guardiola knows that huge improvements are needed from the evidence we’ve seen so far.
Liverpool haven’t been perfect, but they still look a level ahead of City in the race for the league title.
As for Arsenal, they’ve quietly gone about their job of securing three wins out of four and moving into the Champions League places at this early stage.
It’s worked in their favour that the likes of Everton, Villa and Leicester have stolen most of the headlines so far, meaning that the pressure has been off to an extent.
This fixture also carries an added attraction these days – a meeting of mentor and pupil, with Arteta being Guardiola’s assistant for three years.
Arsenal are growing in stature more and more under Arteta and this could be a closer game than it would have been a season or so ago.
Form Guide (all comps): WWLWD
Reasons to be cheerful:
Not lost to Arsenal in the league since 2015
Raheem Sterling likely to be passed fit
Reasons to be fearful:
Problems at the back have been a cause for concern
Kevin De Bruyne could miss out through injury
In terms of results, things could have gone a lot worse for Guardiola in the opening weeks of the season.
Yes, they only have one win to their name against Wolves, but a draw against the newly-promoted Leeds and two wins in the Carabao Cup are not to be sniffed at.
The 5-2 defeat against Leicester, however, is one that caused a shock, for sure. Not only have his side been conceding more goals than usual, they are finding it harder to score, too – only half of Liverpool’s goals in the league.
Much of this has been down to the absence of strikers Aguero and Jesus, the former of which may be back this weekend. But with news that star man De Bruyne may be out, this will not help Guardiola’s team create more chances.
They have top players, of course, and have brought in a quality defender in Dias, but this match could be closer than in previous seasons.
Star Man – Raheem Sterling
With Jesus out and De Bruyne and Aguero doubts, Sterling must yet again lead the line for City
Form Guide (all comps): WWLWW
Reasons to be cheerful
Are in great form and will fancy their chances of upsetting City
New signing Thomas Partey could play a role
Reasons to be fearful
Pep Guardiola always demands improvement from his team
Start of nightmare run of fixtures
Rather unlike his opposite number this weekend, Mikel Arteta will overall be pleased with his side’s performances and results so far this season.
Aside from their defeat to champions Liverpool, they’ve won all of their games in the league and Carabao Cup and hold a top four place currently.
They are also boosted by the signing of quality midfielder Thomas Partey from Atletico who will undoubtedly add the dominating presence they’ve been missing.
Unfortunately, this is the start of a testing run of fixtures which will show us exactly where Arsenal are in their journey – this game is followed by the start of their Europe League campaign as well as Leicester and Man United.
They will be optimistic about their chances though, especially with City missing key players.
Star Man – Thomas Partey
A real statement of intent in signing the Frenchman, Arsenal will hope he can provide the quality and energy in midfield
A game with plenty of chances at either end
Could come down to who is fit
Arsenal would take a draw whereas City need a win
The result of this game could depend on the players that are fit enough to play.
If Kevin De Bruyne is fit, then City will be favourites, especially if Sergio Aguero is fit enough to play some part too. Kieran Tierney will also be a miss for Arsenal, having to self-isolate after coming into close contact with Covid.
Arsenal will look back to their FA Cup Semi-Final win for inspiration and if City have another off day, they could spring another disappointing result upon them.
City are favourites but Arsenal could snatch something.
Man City to win 2-1