The fight for a top four finish continues on Sunday evening when Manchester City travel to the Emirates to take on Arsenal in the latest Premier League blockbuster fixture.
Sunday 2 April, 16:00
Arsenal’s form has been pretty dire since the start of 2017 so they are in desperate need of a victory and the prospect of facing Pep Guardiola’s men will not be comforting. They have picked up four defeats in their last five games and still trail Liverpool by six points, though Arsenal have two games in hand still left to play.
A place in the top four is the ultimate aim for both sides and a slip up from Manchester City could put a dent in their hopes of securing Champions League qualification, with Liverpool breathing down their necks. City go into the clash on the back of their 1-1 draw against the Merseysiders on Sunday and Guardiola will be hoping for much of the same intensity to break down the Gunners.
They picked up just three victories of their seven fixtures in March so City will be hoping to get April off to winning ways.
Arsene Wenger’s future is still uncertain so it’s crucial Arsenal start picking up some points and regain the support of the fan base.
Alexis Sanchez should be available despite being on international duty in South America this week and the Gunners may be handed a boost as Mesut Ozil was fit enough to feature as a substitute in Germany’s victory against Azerbaijan on Sunday.
However, Arsenal will be without Petr Cech as he continues to nurse the calf injury he picked up against West Brom. David Ospina should be given another opportunity in goal and Kieran Gibbs will be hoping for a return to left-back as he is now available.
Lucas Perez is out with a thigh strain and Santi Cazorla remains absent for the rest of the season.
Kevin De Bruyne is a doubt after picking up a slight groin injury and the Blues will also be without long-term absentees Gabriel Jesus and Ilkay Gundogan.
- Alexis Sanchez remains the only Arsenal player to score double figures this season. (18)
- Arsenal haven’t beaten a team in the top four since their 3-0 victory against Chelsea in September and at the time, the Blues were only sat in eighth place.
- Second-half goals from Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling helped City record a 2-1 victory over Arsenal in their last encounter despite Theo Walcott scoring within just four minutes.
- Arsenal conceded 11 goals in March which is their worst tally since the start of the season.
- Manchester City have drawn their last two matches against top four rivals (Tottenham & Liverpool) and their last victory against a big team was their 2-1 victory against Arsenal in December.
The Chilean has been Arsenal’s key man for every game this season and it will be no different this weekend against City. He is a huge threat going forward with his pace and clever runs in behind the defence. He will look to exploit City’s weaker full-backs and create space for Walcott and Welbeck. Arsenal need him to be in top form if they hope to come away with a victory.
The midfielder will cause all kinds of problems for Arsenal’s lightweight midfield. Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey have looked shaky together and neither appear to be strong enough to cope with Toure’s empowering physical strength. The Ivorian will look to drive through the middle and open up space in front of the box and when he gets into those areas he can be extremely dangerous.
Both teams have struggled to keep a clean sheet this season and judging by last weekend’s performance, City will be raring to go in attack. They look like scoring in almost every game but Arsenal can be equally as effective when on top form. The Gunners have been in awful form recently though so City will go into the game confident they can pick up all three points. It’s unlikely to be a goalless affair though.
Arsenal 1-3 Manchester City