Manchester City are expected to continue their excellent home record when league leaders Arsenal visit the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (12:45 GMT, live on BT Sport 1).
City have scored seven more goals than any other side in the league, including an average of 4.14 per home match. They are fourth in the Premier League table, six points off the top, with 29 points from nine wins, two draws and four defeats.
Man Utd (4-1), Everton (3-1) and Tottenham Hotspur (6-0) have all been comfortably seen off at the Etihad, where Manuel Pellegrini’s team have regularly played highly attractive attacking football. City have won all seven of their home matches so far this season, accounting for 72% of the points they have gained.
With David Silva or Samir Nasri providing invention, Jesus Navas offering a quick, direct threat from the right, and Alvaro Negredo and Sergio Aguero forming a potent partnership up front, City have enough offensive quality and variety to cause significant problems for most teams. United and Spurs, in particular, were blown away by City’s attack.
Pellegrini’s style is more offensive than that of his predecessor Roberto Mancini, and while City have consistently prospered at home, they have often been a little open on their travels, losing four times away from home. There have, however, been signs of improvement on this front in recent times, with two good away results in the last week.
City’s primary weakness, particularly away from home, has been their defence, with injuries and wavering form necessitating regular changes to the makeup of the defensive unit. Poor communication and organisation have seen them concede 13 times in eight away matches, but the problems have been less pronounced at home, where City have conceded just twice.
Pellegrini will be without Matija Nastasic for this match as the Serbian defender continues his recovery from a calf injury. Gael Clichy (foot) and Micah Richards (hamstring) are both injury doubts, while the match is likely to come too soon for Stevan Jovetic, who has not played since late October due to a calf injury.
Arsenal top the Premier League table, five points clear of Liverpool and Chelsea, with 35 points from 11 wins, two draws and two defeats. They have lost just once since their opening day defeat to Aston Villa and have won five of their seven away matches.
The deadline day signing of German international Mezut Ozil seems to have further galvanised a team who ended last season in fine form. Not only has Ozil produced four goals and six assists in 12 league appearances, but he has also helped bring the best out of striker Olivier Giroud (pictured), who is posting improved numbers in his second season in English football.
Arsenal’s lofty position also owes much to the spectacular form of midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who has scored more goals (eight) this season than in his previous five seasons at the club combined. While his finishing rate is likely unsustainable, he has also produced five assists and is a vital component of the Arsenal midfield, providing drive and incision.
Arsene Wenger’s side have impressed in attack, but it is in defence that they have made the biggest gains over last season. Arsenal boast the best defensive record in the division, with just 11 goals conceded in 15 matches. Defenders Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker have been excellent, while goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny continues to improve.
Bacary Sagna has missed Arsenal’s last three matches with a hamstring injury and is again doubtful for this match. Lukas Podolski is nearing a return from the hamstring injury that has ruled him out since the end of August and could be part of the squad, but Abou Diaby, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Yaya Sanogo all definitely miss out.
Man City v Arsenal Betting Tips Verdict
Last season’s equivalent fixture ended in a 1-1 draw, with Koscielny cancelling out Joleon Lescott’s opener. City have won three of the last five league meetings between the sides at the Etihad, while things have been very even in the last 10 league meetings at all venues, with four wins for City, three for Arsenal and three draws.
City have a 100% record at home this season and have brushed aside the other three top four contenders they have hosted with relative ease. Arsenal are very good defensively, but City have such a variety of forward options that it is difficult to imagine them not scoring at least once, having scored two or more in all of their home matches so far.
Arsenal, too, have some excellent forward options and will be confident of creating chances against a City defence that has not always looked the strongest. The Gunners are in great form and will certainly make it an interesting encounter.
We do, however, believe that City have what it takes to win the three points and move to within striking distance of Arsenal ahead of the Christmas period.
- Back Man City to win @ best odds of 17/20 with BetVictor.
- All of City’s home matches this season, even against other big clubs, have been high-scoring, with two or more goals scored in all but one of them. Arsenal’s away matches have featured less goals, but four of the seven have still involved two or more. Back over 2.5 goals @ 3/4 with Ladbrokes.
- These two teams are fighting it out for league title favouritism. Compare the top online bookies’ prices using our Premier League betting odds table.