Arsenal Vs Manchester City is one of the most anticipated encounters of the Premier League. This time around the match has added significance, specially for Arsenal. At 19 points behind table leaders Chelsea and 9 points behind local rivals Tottenham, the Gunners are now entirely out of the premier league title race, a position they have possibly never been in at this stage of the season in Arsene Wenger’s 21 year tenure at the club thus far.
This Sunday when premier league super giants Manchester City visit the Emirates, the match could determine Arsenal’ place in the top-4 and participation in the UEFA Champions League next season, something Arsene Wenger has consistently achieved for the club as Arsenal manager. While a top-4 finish for 20 years in a row is an accomplishment unparalleled in world football, fans of the club and the footballing world have made it no secret that a finish outside the top 4 would have drastic implications for the club as a global franchise and the future of Arsene Wenger.
With Alexis Sanchez taking over the familiar contract rebel role this season and uncertainty over star playmaker Mesut Ozil’s future, two of Arsenal’s best players, every loss in the premier league from this point is likely to only aggravate the ‘Wenger out’ sentiment and more importantly, increase the chances of these two stars leaving the club for good.
Pep Guardiola, the Manchester City manager, has not been able to make the kind of revolutionary mark at Manchester City in his first season in charge of the club. Many commentators expected him to enter the premier league with a bang and win something in his first season. With the Citizens 12 points behind Chelsea, it can be said that they too are now most certainly out of the title race as well. Guardiola’s -100-something million pound brigade, while lethal on paper, is understandably settling down gradually, and in the Spaniard’s defense, it can be said that he has time on his hands (well, let’s hope so at least!).
Both teams are going to be determined to win this fixture. With Guardiola expected to instruct his side to put in a classic build-from-the-back and counter-from-open play performance, Arsene Wenger’s men are likely to sit back and not dominate for the first 30 minutes considering the qualities of City’s attacking department. Even with a few players injured, City are well equipped up front.
- Arsenal have lost only 1 out of their previous 19 home encounters against Manchester City
- Were City to win at the Emirates, they would have achieved a double over Arsenal ( wins both at home and away) for the first time since the 1975/976 season, 15 years before the premier league came into being.
- Arsene Wenger’s record against Pep Guardiola is to say the least, not exactly world class. The Frenchman has won just twice against his Spaniard counterpart in their previous 9 meetings
- Arsenal have found themselves outside the top 4 as late as April only the second time in their premier league history
- Alexis Sanchez has been involved in more goals than any other Arsenal player this season, with 18 goals and 9 assists.
- Manchester City’s top scorer Sergio Aguero, has 13 goals this season with 0 assists.
Arsenal: Arsene Wenger confirmed in his press conference that contract rebel Alexis Sanchez will be in the squad for Sunday’s game. Mesut Ozil who came on for Germany during the international break is also likely to feature, while first choice goalkeeper Petr Cech and Arsenal’s midfield maestro who is undoubtedly the most missed player on the North London turf, Santi Cazorla, will also be out. Spanish forward Lucas Perez will also be out for this one.
Manchester City: Gabriel Jesus, who has taken to the Etihad stadium by storm ever since joining the Citizens, alongside midfielder Ikay Gundogan and City’s best player in the final third, Kevin De Bruyne, are all set to be out for this one.
Watch out for a game of high intensity and several cards (One would hope not, but the pressure is on everyone in this game!) being shown around. Hopefully in the midst of this war that must commence, players on both sides should not forget the art of team work and fair play!
Venue: The Emirates Stadium, Hornsey Road, London, United Kingdom
Time: 4:00 PM (GMT) 8:30 PM (IST)
Where to watch: Fans in India can watch this one ‘Live on Star Sports Select HD1/ HD2