On September 13th, reigning English champions Manchester City will travel to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal. Manuel Pellegrini’s men will face the Gunners for the second time this season after the two sides met in the Community Shield. These two sides took home England’s two domestic cups with City picking up the 2014 Capital One Cup and Arsenal picking up the 2014 FA Cup at the end of last season. That, on top of the fact that both of these sides finished in Champions League places, with Manchester City winning the Premier League, makes this a huge match up.
Both sides had a difficult international break with players picking up injuries. Arsenal have some high profile players that may or may not be fit to play on Saturday. Luckily for Arsene Wenger’s side, both Laurent Koscielny and Mesut Ozil have returned to full training and look set to play despite fitness concerns over the last two weeks. Welshman Aaron Ramsey is touch and go for Saturday after picking up a knock to his ankle against Andorra for his national side. The Gunners will also be missing Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud and Serge Gnabry to long term injuries.
City had the good news that captain Vincent Kompany had not actually picked up an injury last week, despite concerns that he had. The Citizens have three real injury concerns and they are all touch and go for kick off on Saturday. Fernando, Stevan Jovetic, and Pablo Zabaleta are all doubts for the match.
Arsenal have not lost a home league game since the opening day of 2013/2014 season against Aston Villa. The Gunners’ home record in the league since then is 14 wins, five draws and no losses. Arsenal have only beaten Manchester City at the Emirates in one of their last five meetings there. In games not played at Wembley Stadium, Manchester City have only lost in one of their last eight league meetings with the Gunners.
The key man for Arsenal in this difficult fixture will be their marquee signing from this summer, Alexis Sanchez. Sanchez seems to have adjusted to England well so far picking up two goals in the month of August. Sanchez’s pace, power and directness gives Arsenal an element of dynamism they lacked at times last season. The former Barcelona man made his competitive debut for Arsenal in the Community Shield vs Manchester City. While he only played 45 minutes in that one, the Chilean made his mark on the game and played very well. The star the of Chile national team showed how dangerous he was on the counter attack after Arsenal went 1-0 up. Sanchez led multiple effective counter attacks and was instrumental in the second goal for the Gunners. Arsene Wenger can only hope that his big summer signing comes up trumps in their toughest test so far this season.
The key man for the defending champions will be their Spanish midfield magician, David Silva. The Spanish midfielder is known as one of the best attacking midfielders in the world and proves that week in week out. He can pull the strings from midfield and can provide that match winning moment of magic at any time. The combination of Silva’s flair and Yaya Toure’s power and pace make this Manchester City midfield one of the best in the country. The combination of those two can at times make up for the fact that Pellegrini likes to stick to his four four two formation. It will be key for Silva to make up for the extra man in midfield if the Chilean manager decides to line up like that.
Man City go into the game as slight favourites with the bookmakers and are 7/5 to win with Betway. You can back Arsenal at 7/4 and the draw at 12/5.
Danny Welbeck scored twice for England in midweek and the new Arsenal forward is 6/1 to open the scoring at the weekend. If you fancy Man City to score the first goal, then Aguero (9/2), Dzeko (11/2) and Yaya Toure (15/2) all stand out.
You can back my prediction of a 1-1 draw at 5/1.
Arsenal’s struggles against big teams on the road last season have been well documented, but they were not too bad against them at the Emirates. They picked up 10 points from the rest of the top six at home and did not lose a single one of those matches. Both teams have had their early season struggles with Arsenal dropping points to Everton and Leicester City while not playing well in one game this season. City did beat Liverpool convincingly, but they also lost to Stoke City at home right before the international break. This match is a tough one to call, but I’m going to go with the same result and scoreline as when they played in March.