Manchester City need all three points against Arsenal if they are to keep up the pressure on Premier League leaders Chelsea (16:00 GMT Sunday, live on Sky Sports).
Man City head into this home match on the back of a 14-match unbeaten run in all competitions but have dropped points in two of their last three league fixtures. They are second in the Premier League table, with 47 points from 14 wins, five draws and two defeats.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side dominated both possession and the shot count away to Everton last weekend but only came away with a 1-1 draw due to a combination of missed chances and some stout defending from their hosts. Fernandinho finished a swift counter-attack to put City ahead in the 74th minute, only for Everton to equalise four minutes later.
It was the fifth consecutive match in which City have failed to keep a clean sheet. Coming on the back of a 3-2 win over Sunderland and 2-2 draw at home to Burnley in their previous two fixtures, it showed the degree to which they miss the influence of Vincent Kompany when he is absent from the side. Kompany will be welcomed back with open arms on Sunday.
Yet despite recent defensive instability, Man City are generally conceding marginally less goals per match than they did during their title-winning campaign last season. Indeed, it is their goals for column that is in need of a little boost, with Pellegrini’s side scoring an average of 0.5 less goals per match. The signing of Swansea’s Wilfried Bony should help.
Pellegrini has no injury concerns coming into Sunday’s match, but both Bony and Yaya Toure are on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Ivory Coast and are therefore unavailable.
Arsenal travel north on the back of a comfortable 3-0 win at home to Stoke City last weekend. They are fifth in the Premier League table, just a point behind Manchester United in fourth, with 36 points from 10 wins, six draws and five defeats.
Arsene Wenger’s side made a quick start against Stoke, with Laurent Koscielny heading in an Alexis Sanchez cross to give them a 6th-minute lead. Sanchez added a second before half-time following a neat exchange with Tomas Rosicky and then put the result beyond doubt with a deflected free-kick that sneaked in at the near post early in the second half.
It was certainly not the first time this season that Sanchez has led his side to victory. The Chilean has proved an inspired signing, having impressed with both his attacking output (12 goals and seven assists in the league) and his defensive work rate. In a forward line that has often been disrupted by injuries, he has been a consistent and decisive presence.
Inconsistency has been a problem for Arsenal this season. In the league, in particular, they have failed to put together a winning streak of more than two matches, which compares unfavourably to the rest of the top six. With the third-best scoring record and the joint fifth-best defensive record they will, however, still expect to finish the season in the top four.
Wenger will definitely be without the injured Abou Diaby (calf), Danny Welbeck (thigh), Jack Wilshere (ankle), Mathieu Debuchy (shoulder), Mikel Arteta (ankle) and Serge Gnabry (knee) for the trip to the Etihad, while Callum Chambers (illness) and Kieran Gibbs (ankle) are both doubtful.
Man City vs Arsenal Preview Betting Tips
These two sides played out an entertaining 2-2 draw when they met at the Emirates earlier this season and also drew, 1-1, in last season’s fixture in London. Man City were, however, comfortable winners on home soil, brushing Arsenal aside in a commanding 6-3 victory. The last six meetings at the Etihad have seen four wins for City, one for Arsenal and one draw.
City will have Kompany, Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero (pictured above) back to full fitness for this match and despite the absence of Toure will be confident of causing problems for an Arsenal defence who have conceded eight times in their last five away matches. Whether they themselves can remain solid at the back does, however, remain to be seen.
Arsenal have struggled to put together a run of good results this season. They have been particularly vulnerable away from home, with four of their five defeats coming on their travels. The injury problems of the last few seasons have continued to haunt them, and while they remain a top-four challenger, our Man City v Arsenal preview’s verdict is that City should have the beating of them.
- Back Man City to win @ best odds of 20/23 with BetVictor.
- Aguero came on the final 25 minutes or so of City’s draw with Everton last weekend and should now be approaching full fitness following another week of training. He has been in excellent form this season and has scored in each of his last two starts against Arsenal. Back Sergio Aguero to score at anytime @ 10/11 with SkyBet or Betfair Sportsbook.