Arsenal vs Manchester City Preview
Written By: Natasha Turkington
Natasha Turkington was born and bred in Manchester, and is considered one of the soccer’s most prolific and knowledgeable fans. Follow her on Twitter at @natashaturk.
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Pep Guardiola’s team can overtake Arsenal if they win the midweek fixture at the Emirates Stadium, although the Gunners do have a precious game in hand. In what is likely to be a thrilling game (some fans going as far as to say a title decider), Guardiola admits Manchester City will face the best Arsenal team since he has been in the Premier League. All eyes will be on Mikel Arteta to break his former boss’ unbeaten record against Arsenal in the EPL, Manchester City have won 11 out of 12 fixtures – including the five most recent trips to Emirates.
This is a huge game for both teams; should Arsenal win this one and also their game in hand against Everton next month, assuming there are no slip-ups between now and then, Arsenal would see their lead at the top extend to 9 points. On the other hand, should Arsenal lose, Manchester City will claim top of the league for the first time this year.
Manchester City Team News
Erling Haaland’s fitness for this clash remains up in the air. The Norwegian star returned to training on Monday shortly after being taken off early against Aston Villa with a knock, which has put his place in the line-up in doubt. The Haaland effect has been an interesting saga; it appears Guardiola is still working out how he makes his team tick around him; after an explosive start to the season, he is somewhat quieter in games; maybe the relentless pressure the Premier League demands is taking some getting used to.
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City’s other injury concern ahead of facing Arsenal is the absence of John Stones, who has a thigh injury.
Rodri had a dominant performance over Villa in their win at the weekend, although it would not be a shock to see Guardiola switch things up with Manuel Akanji and Nathan Ake ready to come in as options.
Phil Foden is also an option for the attack having returned as a substitute again but Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez are in superb form. Julian Alvarez likely to be Haaland’s replacement if he cannot reach match fitness.
Arsenal Team News
Unfortunately for Arsenal fans, their team remains without long-term absentees Gabriel Jesus and Mohamed Elneny, while Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith Rowe lack match fitness.
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Manager Mikel Arteta has named the same team for seven consecutive league matches. Defenders Saliba and Gabriel will need to be on their A game should Haaland play and switch on his brilliance; the defensive duo have been subject to criticism over the past few weeks for poor/average performances.
VAR is again back in the soccer headlines, and not for the right reasons… there were two shocking decisions over the weekend, one which should have seen a goal scored by Brentford against Arsenal ruled out.
Arteta blasted VAR referee, Lee Mason, for “not understanding his job”. Lee Mason had been named as VAR referee for this upcoming battle for the top spot however, reports have emerged this afternoon that Mason has been dropped to fourth official for this fixture. Both teams, managers and fans will be hoping there are no VAR mistakes and the game will provide all the soccer entertainment we’re addicted to in massive games such as this one.
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