Arsenal will have their work cut out when they host reigning Premier League champions Manchester City at the Emirates on Saturday (12:45 BST, live on BT Sport).
The Gunners have started the season slowly, with two draws and one victory from their opening three fixtures. They needed an injury time winner to overcome Crystal Palace on the opening day, and followed that result with draws away to Everton and Leicester City.
Arsenal, robbed of Olivier Giroud through injury, created a decent number of chances in the last-mentioned fixture but were unable to find a second goal after Alexis Sanchez’s opener had been swiftly equalised by Leicester’s Leonardo Ulloa. Indeed, the result could have been worse had Wojciech Szczesny not made a good save to deny Jamie Vardy late on.
Arsene Wenger elected to dip into the transfer market in the wake of that result, adding another striker to his squad with the purchase of Danny Welbeck (pictured) from Manchester United. It was not, perhaps, the big name craved by supporters, but Welbeck has the necessary skill-set to suggest he will be a good fit. For one, his pace will provide Arsenal with greater incision in the final third.
With Sanchez, the club’s major summer signing, still settling into the Premier League, it will be hoped than Welbeck can hit the ground running. Aaron Ramsey provides a strong goal threat from midfield, but Wenger does need his forwards to start contributing regularly, particularly as his side are yet to keep a clean sheet in league play.
Wenger will definitely be without Giroud (ankle), Serge Gnabry (knee) and Theo Walcott (knee) for this match, while Kieran Gibbs (hamstring) and Ramsey (ankle) are doubtful. Mesut Ozil (ankle), Laurent Koscielny (head) and Mikel Arteta (ankle) are all expected to return.
City began the season as they finished the last with impressive victories over Newcastle and Liverpool but then slipped to a surprising 1-0 home defeat to Stoke City in their final fixture before the international break. It was only their second home defeat since May 2013.
Stoke defended deep and narrow, denying City space between the lines and limiting the influence of David Silva and Samir Nasri. Yaya Toure hit the crossbar with a close-range effort, but City otherwise struggled to create chances, mustering just a further two efforts on target. Mame Diouf scored a sucker punch goal on the counter to give Stoke the victory.
Saturday’s match kicks off a difficult period for Manuel Pellegrini’s side. After their trip to the Emirates they will fly to Germany to take on Bayern Munich in the Champions League, before returning to England to host title favourites Chelsea at the Etihad. The defeat to Stoke was almost certainly just a blip, but they will need to be much sharper in coming matches.
City were, by their own standards, relatively inactive in the transfer market this summer, but they were still able to bring in quality alternatives in both defence and midfield. Despite selling Alvaro Negredo, they still have a large variety of attacking options and can be fancied to again be the league’s top scorers. They and Chelsea are likely to compete for the title.
Pellegrini has no confirmed absences for the trip to the Emirates, but Fernando (groin), Pablo Zabaleta (knock) and Stevan Jovetic (hamstring) are injury doubts. Concerns remain over the match fitness of summer signing Eliaquim Mangala, who was called up but left unused by France during the international break.
Arsenal vs Man City Betting Tips Verdict
Last season’s equivalent fixture ended in a 1-1 draw, with Mathieu Flamini equalising Silva’s opener. City won the return fixture 6-3. The Citizens have a good record at the Emirates, having lost on just one of their last five visits to the stadium, but they were defeated 3-0 when the sides met at Wembley for the Community Shield in mid-August.
Arsenal have not made the quickest start to the campaign, but they showed good determination to come back from two goals down to draw at Everton and will be keen to assert themselves against one of their rivals at the top end of the table.
City lost against Stoke but are likely to find the going a little easier against a side who will take a far less defensive approach. There will be more space for Silva to work in, while Sergio Aguero and Jovetic – or indeed Edin Dzeko – will fancy their chances up against an Arsenal defence that has conceded in all three of their league matches so far.
This should be a highly entertaining match, with a score draw the most likely result.
- Back a draw on the ‘match result and both teams to score’ market @ best odds of 7/2 with BetVictor.
- Aguero has started the season sharply, with two goals in three matches for City and another for Argentina in their recent friendly win over Germany. He returned sooner than most from international duty and will therefore be well rested coming into this match. Back Sergio Aguero to score at anytime @ 13/8 with BetVictor.