Manchester City ought to continue their blistering start to the Premier League season with victory at home to Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday (14:15 GMT, live on Sky Sports).
Man City have a five-point advantage at the top of the table coming into the weekend fixtures and are the only remaining unbeaten side in the top flight. Indeed, after a draw away at Everton in the second round of fixtures, they have recorded eight consecutive league victories.
Pep Guardiola’s side had the best underlying statistics in the Premier League last season and have so far been able to convert that into the reality of points this time around. They have by far the league’s most potent attack, with 35 goals in 10 matches, and have conceded just six times. They are a team who dominate all measures: possession, shots and quality chances.
After the first trophy-less season of his top-flight coaching career, Guardiola was provided with significant summer funds to improve the weaker areas of his squad. He has added pace and power to the full-back positions, while the arrival of Ederson from Benfica has provided Man City with a more solid presence between the sticks.
The result is a side who have carried over and polished the promising aspects of Guardiola’s first season at the helm and added extra dynamism and incisiveness. Practiced movements and interchanges are starting to become second nature, and City have produced some wonderfully slick team goals, notably in their 7-2 thrashing of Stoke.
That isn’t the only such whipping that City have handed out. In addition to their ability to pick apart lower-quality opposition, they have also shown a marked improvement in their performances against other teams of a similar level. That was often where City came apart last season, but a 5-0 home win over Liverpool, victory away at Chelsea and wins home and away to Napoli in the Champions League show that they are more competitive this time out.
[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]They have by far the league’s most potent attack, with 35 goals in 10 matches, and have conceded just six times[/quote]
Arsenal likewise struggled against other top-six sides last season, winning just two of the 10 encounters. Their away record was particularly poor: four defeats and one draw. This season, they’ve taken a credible point away at Chelsea but did go down 4-0 away to Liverpool. Such a series of results doesn’t exactly bode well for their upcoming fixtures. They have the current top three – Man City, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United – in three of their next five games.
If the pattern continues, those matches are likely to confirm what already seems relatively clear: Arsenal are again primed to finish on the cusp of the top four. Whether or not they make it probably depends more on others than it does on the Gunners, as their level now appears more or less set. Their underlying numbers are good but they’d have to count on Chelsea not improving and Liverpool continuing to stutter to finish inside the top four.
Arsene Wenger has some talented players at his disposal, particularly in attacking areas, but the squad isn’t as well-balanced as it might be and problem positions continue unaddressed. His side can sometimes struggle to assert themselves and establish control of matches, and so while they have won five out of five against mainly lower-half teams at home, their away form had been poor prior to their 5-2 thrashing of a hapless Everton side last weekend.
It is easy to see why the Arsenal board elected to continue with Wenger this season given his previous work at the club and last season’s FA Cup success, but it perhaps sent out a message that they are happy with simply competing for Champions League qualification and have no larger ambitions or long-term visions for the club – a feeling that filters down through to the players and that angers a lot of their supporters.
Arsenal did compete well with City in last season’s meetings between the teams, drawing at home, losing 1-2 away at the Etihad and then winning out after extra-time in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. But while Man City have built on last season and improved, Arsenal have stood still and it is difficult to see them coming away with anything from Sunday’s match. City look well-primed to record a relatively comfortable victory and it is little surprise that the best UK bookies make them odds-on favourites in the betting below.
Our Preview’s Man City vs. Arsenal Betting Tips Verdict
- Back Manchester City -1.25 on an Asian Handicap @ 91/100 with Bet365.
- Bet on Sergio Aguero to score at anytime @ 8/11 with Betfred.
Compare Man City vs Arsenal Match Winner Betting Odds