Sunday 18th December. 4PM. Sky Sports 1
It’s not even January but the Premier League title already appears to be destined for Stamford Bridge. Nevertheless, both Manchester City and Arsenal remain contenders as they enter Sunday’s massive showdown at the Etihad. By full-time, however, there’s a good chance that only one of them will still hold genuine hopes of securing the crown.
Both teams have had their problems but a win here could provide a huge boost as we approach the turn of the year. Throw in a fascinating managerial battle into the mix and it has all the makings of a pre-Christmas cracker.
Prepare yourselves for a festive treat.
City Back To Winning Ways
After weeks of disappointing performances, it appeared to be business as normal for Pep Guardiola’s men as they scored a 2-0 win over Watford on Wednesday night. However, a win against Arsenal would truly get their season back on track just in time for the busy Christmas schedule that the former Barcelona and Bayern manager has never faced before.
For all those perceived problems, City have still picked up 10 wins from 16 Premier League games and will end the weekend behind only Chelsea with three points as Liverpool don’t play until Monday night.
The Citizens cannot overlook their problems regarding their defensive unit. Claudio Bravo still looks unassured while Vincent Kompany remains on the sidelines. Nonetheless, this is a squad full of superstars and they should be confident on home turf. If they’ve learnt their lesson from the Chelsea game, they’ll have every chance of confirming their return to form with a win here.
It won’t be easy but Guardiola has a great record against Arsenal. If he continues it here, those dreams of a Premier League title may be back on.
Mustafi Injury A Problem
The Gunners have undoubtedly been one of the best sides in the division this term but their loss to Everton underlined their need for Shkodran Mustafi to return. On a brighter note for the visitors, Sergio Aguero’s suspension should reduce the damage.
Arsenal are still without a number of other stars too, including Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey. Arsene Wenger will be pleased to see Hector Bellerin back in action, though, even if it will take the Spaniard a couple of games to get back into the swing of things.
Tuesday’s defeat was a blow but five wins and two draws from the other seven away games should give them confidence at the Etihad, especially as City’s vulnerabilities have been punished on a number of occasions in recent weeks.
Despite Chelsea’s current form, the Gunners will be quietly optimistic that this could be their year. If they can enter Christmas on the back of a crucial win here, those hopes will look better than ever.
Manchester City v Arsenal Betting
with home advantage on their side, Manchester City enter Sunday’s showdown as the 11/10 favourites at Unibet while Arsenal are priced 23/10. Alternatively, the draw can be backed at 5/2.
Arsenal have enjoyed a great record over City over the past couple of seasons, taking at least one point in each of the last five head-to-head league encounters. Even at the Etihad, the in-form stars of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez should have enough quality to take advantage of City’s defensive wobbles.
On the other hand, even without Aguero, the Citizens should enjoy plenty of possession. If David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne can pull the strings, they’ll be on the scoresheet too.
This is a crucial battle that could go either way. There’s a strong chance that it will be settled by one moment of magic, and there are a number of potential sources amongst both sets of players.
Nevertheless, it’s Ozil who stands out as one of the most likely candidates. The German has become a far more frequent scorer this term, and we’re backing him to continue it here.