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Preview: Arsenal vs. Manchester City - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Premier League clash between Arsenal and Manchester City, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Manchester City will be looking to continue their march towards regaining the Premier League title when they take on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Pep Guardiola's side have won their last 17 matches across all competitions, including 12 in the league to move 10 points clear at the top of the table and 22 points above this weekend's hosts, who sit 10th.


Match preview

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta pictured together on June 17, 2020© Reuters

Few people will know the quality Man City possess better than Mikel Arteta, who spent three years as Guardiola's assistant before taking over as Arsenal manager, and so he will be under no illusions as to the scale of the task facing his side on Sunday.

In his pre-match press conference, Arteta talked up Man City as the best team in Europe, and a quick look at some of the statistics behind their incredible recent form makes it difficult to argue.

The Citizens have already smashed the record for most consecutive wins across all competitions by an English top-flight club, their run still ongoing at 17, while Wednesday's 3-1 triumph over Everton saw them become the first top-flight side to ever win their opening 10 matches of a calendar year.

That perfect record in 2021 will be tested in the coming weeks with a difficult run which sees them face Arsenal, Borussia Monchengladbach, West Ham United and Manchester United in succession, but such is their dominance at the moment that they will go into all of those games as firm favourites.

You have to go back more than two months to December 15 for the last time they failed to win a game in any competition, while their unbeaten run stretches back 24 games to their 2-0 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur in November - incidentally their last league trip to North London.

Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez celebrates scoring against Everton in the Premier League on February 17, 2021© Reuters

Remarkably, that loss to Spurs was the last time Man City even trailed in a Premier League game, thanks largely to their 12 clean sheets in the 16 games since.

Guardiola's men have now kept 22 clean sheets in all competitions over the course of the campaign - more than any other team in the top four tiers of English football or the top five European leagues - while their record in the Premier League stands at just 15 goals conceded in 24 games, nine fewer than the next best defence.

A run of 12 consecutive league wins has seen Man City storm 10 points clear at the top of the table, and it is increasingly difficult to see anyone catching them even if Guardiola's side begin to drop points with more regularity over the coming weeks.

Chances to take points off them are few and far between with Man City almost as impressive away from home as they have been at home this season, and they will arrive at the Emirates Stadium looking to equal the club record of 11 successive away wins in all competitions.

Man City have won at Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea in that time, while their ongoing run of 10 in a row also includes a 4-1 triumph over Arsenal at the Emirates in the EFL Cup quarter-finals before Christmas.

Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez celebrates scoring against Arsenal in the EFL Cup on December 22, 2020© Reuters

A repeat of that result would see Man City become only the third team to win away at Arsenal twice in the same season - and the first since 1993-94 - but there is no doubt that the runaway league leaders will make the trip to the capital as favourites to join that exclusive club.

The Gunners still find themselves in mid-table with only 14 games of the season remaining, with eight points separating them from the Champions League places and a 22-point gap to Man City.

Arteta's side will need a drastic improvement over the rest of the campaign if they are to bridge the gap to the top four - or even the top six - but that quest could hardly get off to a more difficult start over the coming weeks.

A potentially season-defining run awaits the Gunners, who take on Man City this weekend, face a Europa League second leg against Benfica next Thursday and then take on Leicester City, Tottenham, West Ham United and Liverpool in four of their following five league games - all teams that currently sit above them in the table.

Arsenal did at least bounce back from successive defeats in their last league game as they raced into a four-goal lead against Leeds United before nervously holding off a fightback to run out 4-2 winners in the end.

Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring against Leeds United in the Premier League on February 14, 2021© Reuters

That result made it six home games unbeaten since Man City's last visit, while in the league they have kept clean sheets in three of their last four outings at the Emirates.

One more defeat on their own turf would set a new unwanted record for most home league defeats in a season at the Emirates Stadium, though, having already been beaten four times in 2020-21.

The visit of Man City will not be a particularly welcome one, then, and especially so given that Arsenal have only won three of their last 18 league games against the team beginning the day at the top of the table - although one of those victories did come in their last such match against Liverpool in July.

The Gunners also come into this match off the back of a Europa League game on Thursday night, which saw them play out a 1-1 draw in their away leg with Benfica in a fixture held at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Europa League glory is arguably a more realistic route to Champions League qualification than a top-four finish for Arsenal right now, and so Arteta may even be tempted to prioritise Thursday's return leg ahead of Sunday's showdown.

Arsenal Premier League form: WWDLLW
Arsenal form (all competitions): WDLLWD

Manchester City Premier League form: WWWWWW
Manchester City form (all competitions): WWWWWW



Team News

Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan celebrates scoring their third goal on February 13, 2021© Reuters

Man City are hopeful that in-form midfielder Ilkay Gundogan will be ready to return for this one, having missed out against Everton in midweek due to a slight groin injury.

The German added another brace to his goal tally last weekend to make him Man City's leading Premier League scorer this season, with all of his 11 goals coming in his last 12 outings.

Ominously for the rest of Europe, Man City's options only seem to be getting stronger too; Kevin De Bruyne returned from injury off the bench in midweek and could start this match, while record goalscorer Sergio Aguero was also among the substitutes for that game.

Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez would all usually be among the first in line to drop out in favour of Gundogan or De Bruyne, but they were all on the scoresheet against Everton to make Guardiola's selection headache even bigger.

Raheem Sterling was the man to make way for De Bruyne on Wednesday, but he is expected to start again having scored four goals and created two more in his last five Premier League games against Arsenal, including goals in each of his last three.

Should Gundogan return then Nathan Ake would be the only injury absentee for Man City, and Arsenal also have a relatively clean bill of health for this contest.

Thomas Partey will again be assessed ahead of kickoff despite being expected to fall short once more, but Kieran Tierney is now back available having returned off the bench in midweek.

Arteta named an unchanged team in Rome, with Rob Holding and Alexandre Lacazette among those to miss out again, although both could return for this one as Arteta looks to keep his squad fresh.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will also expect to start following his hat-trick last weekend, making it five goals in his last two top-flight starts.

Another two-goal haul this weekend would see the skipper become the first Arsenal player since Derek Tapscott in March 1956 to score two or more goals in three consecutive league starts.

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Leno; Bellerin, Holding, Luiz, Tierney; Ceballos, Xhaka; Saka, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang; Lacazette

Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Cancelo, Stones, Dias, Zinchenko; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan; Mahrez, Sterling, Foden


Head To Head

Man City have dominated this fixture in the Premier League recently, winning each of their last seven top-flight meetings and remaining unbeaten in 10 stretching back to December 2015.

Another defeat on Sunday would see Arsenal equal their club record of eight successive league defeats against a single opponent - set against Leeds United between 1973 and 1976 - while Man City have scored at least twice in nine of their ongoing 10-game unbeaten run.

Arsenal, by contrast, have failed to find the back of the net in their last three home league games against Man City and could draw four such blanks in a row against the same opponent for the first time in their history.

In all competitions, Man City have already beaten Arsenal twice this season - a 1-0 triumph in the reverse league fixture and a 4-1 win at the Emirates in the EFL Cup - but Arsenal did knock Man City out of the FA Cup in the semi-finals last term.


SM words green background

We say: Arsenal 1-3 Manchester City

Manchester City are a winning machine at the moment and it is difficult to see them being stopped by an Arsenal side in inconsistent form and with a dreadful recent record in this fixture.

The attacking options at the home side's disposal may be enough for them to get a goal against this rock-solid Man City defence, but that may be all they have to cheer this weekend.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data


Video prediction

Watch the Sports Mole Football Shorts prediction for this game below:


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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola pictured in February 2021
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Pep Guardiola: 'Mikel Arteta will turn Arsenal into title contenders'
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester UnitedMan Utd4310113810
2Chelsea431091810
3Liverpool431091810
4Everton4310104610
5Manchester CityMan City4301111109
6Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton43015329
7Tottenham HotspurSpurs43013309
8West Ham UnitedWest Ham422010558
9Leicester CityLeicester420246-26
10Brentford41213215
11Crystal Palace41215505
12Aston Villa411257-24
13Wolverhampton WanderersWolves410323-13
14Southampton403146-23
15Watford410337-43
16Arsenal410319-83
17Leeds UnitedLeeds4022411-72
18Burnley401338-51
19Newcastle UnitedNewcastle4013512-71
20Norwich CityNorwich4004111-100

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