There are vital points up for grabs in the race to secure a top four position when Arsenal and Man City meet at the Emirates Stadium this weekend (4pm Sunday on Sky Sports 1).
Arsenal slipped down to sixth spot in the standings immediately prior to the international break, going down 3-1 to West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns. The Gunners’ hopes of qualifying for next year’s edition of the Champions League have taken a significant hit in the last couple of months, with six points now separating them from Liverpool in fourth place. The only positive is that they do have a couple of games in hand of Jurgen Klopp’s charges.
Arsenal have now been beaten in four of their last five encounters in the Premier League, with their sole victory since the end of January coming in a 2-0 success against Hull City. Arsene Wenger, whose future continues to be debated on a daily basis, possesses a fantastic record when it comes to leading Arsenal into the Champions League. The level of the competition towards the top of the division this time around means the north London club could miss out on Europe’s foremost continental club competition for the first time since the 1997/98 campaign.
Man City were involved in a highly entertaining 1-1 draw with Liverpool in their most recent encounter, a result that leaves them five points clear of fifth-placed local rivals Man Utd. Pep Guardiola was expected to challenge for the title in his debut campaign at the helm, but although the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich head coach has failed to battle with Chelsea at the very top of the league, there have been numerous positives to take from his work at the Etihad Stadium so far. Securing Champions League football is the chief target between now and the end of the season in May. Picking up all three points against a direct rival this weekend would provide a substantial boost to City’s chances of ending the year in the top four.
Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil are both expected to be fit for Arsenal, but goalkeeper Petr Cech (calf), Lucas Perez (thigh) and Santi Cazorla (leg) are unlikely to play any part. Wenger will stick with his customary 4-2-3-1 formation, with a back four of Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal fielded behind central midfield pairing Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka. Sanchez will probably get the nod up front ahead of Olivier Giroud, largely because City’s high defensive line could be exploited by his speed and direct running in behind.
Guardiola will be unable to call upon Gabriel Jesus (foot) and Ilkay Gundogan (knee), but Bacary Sagna and Pablo Zabaleta should shake off knocks in time to be involved – although Fernandinho could get the nod at right-back ahead of the pair. Lone centre-forward Sergio Aguero will be flanked by wide men Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane, with David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne providing the creativity from central areas. At the back, England international John Stones will probably partnered at centre-half by either Nicolas Otamendi or Aleksandar Kolarov.
Arsenal are stuck in a rut at present. This preview recommends betting on Manchester City to come out on top at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Guardiola’s side have the firepower to cause problems in the final third of the pitch, and while they have struggled defensively at times this term, the Gunners will be low on confidence and could be there for the taking. An away win looks like the most sensible selection when it comes to betting on the match result. For the other one of the betting tips, Sterling would be a good value choice to find the back of net at some point in the game. To summarise our betting selections:
- Manchester City to beat Arsenal, currently best odds of 11/8 with Paddy Power.
- Raheem Sterling to score anytime biggest at 31/10 with Unibet.
- Compare latest Premier League outright winner, relegation & more betting odds.
Greg Lea is a freelance sports writer. Read the articles that he has written at Just Bookies.