Premier League title challengers Man City and Arsenal face a crucial encounter at the Etihad Stadium this weekend (4pm Sunday on Sky Sports 1).
Pep Guardiola’s team’s title hopes have taken a hit in the last few weeks, although back-to-back defeats by Chelsea and Leicester City were at least followed by a 2-0 victory over Watford on Wednesday night. It was a much-needed triumph for City, with the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss opting to go back to basics in the pursuit of a clean sheet and three points. They remain some way behind leaders Chelsea, however – the gap between the two clubs currently stands at seven points – and it remains to be seen whether they have enough in them to overturn such a sizeable defecit. A loss to Arsenal could end their championship hopes once and for all, so Sunday’s encounter at the Etihad is an extremely important one from a Manchester City perspective.
The Gunners’ 14-match unbeaten run in the top flight came to an end on Tuesday evening, when Everton came from a goal down to defeat Arsenal at Goodison Park after efforts from Seamus Coleman and Ashley Williams. Arsene Wenger’s charges started the match brightly and took the initiative in the early stages, but they were unable to capitalise on the lead given to them by Alexis Sanchez and then struggled to contain an Everton outfit who suddenly began to play with new-found energy, urgency and intensity midway through the first half. It was a disappointing display from Arsenal overall, and while Wenger asked questions of the match officials in his post-match press conference, he should probably have been more concerned with the manner in which his team collapsed from a position of strength.
Guardiola will have to make do without Vincent Kompany, who is sidelined until the New Year with knee ligament problems, and suspended duo Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho. Ilkay Gundogan will also be absent after he picked up a serious knee injury in the defeat of Watford. Guardiola opted for more of a conventional 4-2-3-1 formation in that game and could stick with it for the visit of Arsenal, although Kelechi Iheanacho will be hoping to come back into the side in place of Nolito, who was deployed as a false nine in midweek. The loss of Gundogan will probably lead to Fernando partnering Yaya Toure in the centre of the park.
Wenger misses out on the services of Shkodran Mustafi (hamstring), Per Mertesacker (knee), Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), Santi Cazorla (muscle), Mathieu Debuchy (hamstring), Danny Welbeck (knee), Yaya Sanogo (calf), and Chuba Akpom (back).
Despite his side’s setback against Everton last time out, the Frenchman will be reluctant to tinker with his team too much, particularly as that result on Merseyside was their only negative one in the league since October’s goalless draw with Middlesbrough. Arsenal will have significantly less of the ball than they are used to this weekend, but that could actually work in their favour if they are set up in the right way.
Our Preview’s Man City v Arsenal Betting Tips Conclusion
This preview anticipates that Arsenal will pick up all three points on Sunday afternoon. The Gunners possess much more of a counter-attacking threat with Alexis Sanchez at the top of the pitch this season. The Chilean international, Theo Walcott (pictured), Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will undoubtedly cause problems for a City side who have struggled to deal with quick opposition breaks for much of the campaign up to now.
Another betting tips’ option could be in the anytime goalscorer market, where Sanchez – who has found the back of the net on 12 occasions in his 16 Premier League appearances in 2016/17 – looks a choice well worth considering.
In summary, these are this preview’s betting tips:
- Arsenal to beat Manchester City at a best price of 5/2 with Unibet.
- Alexis Sanchez to score at any time at best betting odds of 7/4 with Betfred or Unibet.
Greg Lea is a freelance sports writer. Read the articles that he has written at Just Bookies.