The Premier League resumes on Saturday after the international break for some of the most exciting fixtures of the campaign. As a matter of fact, the most interesting one amongst them is Arteta confronting his previous boss Pep Guardiola as Manchester City takes on Arsenal.
In contrast to Manchester City’s ability, they have struggled to win their matches against Leicester City and Leeds United. As of now, most teams have begun to sit back, resist and then counter city midfield. Whereas Leeds fought back City with their high-intensity game and exploited the spaces provided by City.
It was a surprise for most of us to see Pep making defensive substitutions when they were on level terms with the opponents. Henceforth, the blues of Manchester will be desperate to drive into their winning ways.
Arsenal on the other hand had a better start to the season, only losing to champions Liverpool. Arteta has done an impressive job of bringing in unity and ambition into the side. They feel like a much stronger unit than the Arsenal squads in the late Wenger or Unai Emery era.
They were able to grind a victory against Westham at emirates but had a decent game against both Fulham and Sheffield United. Although they face a very different challenge against City, the recent run of form brings in confidence to their supporters.
The last encounter between Arteta and Pep was the FA Cup semifinal. It was Pierre Emerick Aubameyangs brace that helped Arsenal triumph to a 2-0 victory. However, Arteta let City control the game and exploited the space in the left flank using the lethal Aubameyang to end Pep’s FA cup run.
Though, their prior Premier league encounter at the Etihad was disastrous to Arsenal with Pablo Mari and Granit Xhaka injured. The match also had David Luiz sent off after he came in as the substitute to replace injured Mari.
Luiz was on the receiving end of criticism and fan outrage since then. Though recent form points Luiz as a key figure in the Arsenal lineup; as a leader and defender.
Kevin de Bruyne is often City’s key player whenever they face Arsenal. The Belgian has provided 2 assists and scored 5 goals against the Gunners. Kevin de Bruyne orchestrates the city midfield in the offense. His absence in the match can significantly hamper City’s progression with the ball.
H2H record in Premier League
Played-46: City-13, Arsenal- 23. Draw- 10
Peps side will line up in their classical 4-3-3 formation. But in the absence of Kevin de Bruyne, the midfield likely will be occupied by Rodrigo, Ilkay Gundogan, and Phil Foden.
An impressive debut performance from Ruben Dias against Leeds has made him in contention go alongside Aymeric Laporte in the backline. The Portuguese international might get the nod ahead of Eric Garcia who prefers to move away from the Premier League to Barcelona in the next window.
The biggest dilemma to Pep will be to start Benjamin Mendy or Nathan Ake as the left-back. Often, Ake looks more composed whereas Mendy adds flare in the offense. Nevertheless, Mendy has been very much criticized for being less sharp on the pitch. Joao Cancelo can also fit into the left-back position as Kyle Walker still looks comfortable as the right back.
Arsenal on the other hand seems to line up in a 3-4-3. Although due to the likely absence of Kieran Tierney, they may start Gabriel. It is likely that Bukayo Saka will start as the wingback so as to provide more offensive contributions. The attacking line of Arsenal indeed looks strong and is unlikely to have a change.
Although Nicolas Pepe has scored in the previous match, Arteta has already spoken regarding his consistency and hence may prefer Willian. Consequently, Bellerin’s and Willian’s performance down the right flank will be crucial in the game.
Sergio Aguero’s return to full training is a big boost for City. However, de Bruyne likely may miss the game due to the injury he picked up during the internationals. Raheem Sterling is also doubtful to start the game due to a knock.
Kieran Tierney may not be a part of the squad although he was cleared recently to be allowed to join the team. Pablo Mari and Callum Chambers have returned to training but it’s unlikely that they will be in the squad. Thomas Partey has trained with the squad and looks to be starting the game. Furthermore, Shkodran Mustafi and Gabriel Martinelli also isn’t fit to start the game.
Expected Line ups
|Ederson Moraes||Bernd Leno|
|Kyle Walker||Rob Holding|
|Ruben Dias||David Luiz|
|Aymeric Laporte||Gabriel Maghalaes|
|Benjamin Mendy||Hector Bellerin|
|Phil Foden||Thomas Partey|
|Ilkay Gundogan||Bukayo Saka|
|Riyad Mahrez||Willian Borges|
|Sergio Aguero||Alexandre Lacazette|
|Raheem Sterling||Pierre Emerick Aubameyang|
Manchester City: Scott Carson, Fernandinho, Ferran Torres, Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva, Liam Delap
Arsenal: Alex Runnarson, Maitland Niles, Mohammed Elneny, Dani Ceballos, Eddie Nketiah, Nicolas Pepe
Though City is considered as the stronger unit, the injury of Kevin de Bruyne has put City on the backfoot. On the contrary, Arsenal’s recent run of form has shown that the team shows a lot of character and can be resolute against City. It is also Arsenal’s golden opportunity to grab an away victory after almost 70 months against the big 6 teams. Hence Arsenal may emerge on top of City today.