Manchester City welcome Arsenal to the Etihad Stadium as Pep Guardiola takes on former protégé, Mikel Arteta in a blockbuster Premier League clash.
Man City could climb into the top ten with victory, whilst Arsenal could climb as high as first with a huge win if Everton were to lose to Liverpool by two or more goals in Merseyside derby.
Ilkay Gundogan is set to return for Man City after completing the mandatory self-isolation period after testing positive for Coronavirus.
Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus (both muscle) are expected to also feature whilst Sergio Aguero (knee) is unlikely to be risked.
Kevin De Bruyne (muscle) and Raheem Sterling (hamstring) are both doubts with De Bruyne suffering the issue during Belgium’s defeat against England from which Sterling withdrew days earlier due to his injury.
Arsenal will have Pierre Emerick Aubameyang available after the Gambian international recovered from an ankle sprain.
Emile Smith Rowe (shoulder) could also feature but Pablo Mari (ankle), Shkodran Mustafi (hamstring), Calum Chambers and Gabriel Martinelli (both knee) are sidelined.
Kieran Tierney could be ruled out due to self-isolation after coming in close contact with Southampton’s Stuart Armstrong whilst on international duty for Scotland, with Armstrong soon afterwards testing positive for Coronavirus.
- Man City are unbeaten in their last nine league meetings against Arsenal (W7, D2)
- Arsenal have taken just one point from their last five trips to the Etihad Stadium (D1, L4), despite scoring in four of those clashes.
- City have scored three goals in four of their last five league matches against Arsenal (W5).
- Kevin De Bruyne has scored three goals for Man City across both league meetings last season.
- Hector Bellerin is the only Arsenal defender to have provided a league assist this season, setting up two of the Gunners’ eight goals.
Man City have definitely had ideal preparation for this encounter with three tough league fixtures before the international break, of which they produced completely contrasting performances which surely has to be of concern to Pep Guardiola given the lack of consistency.
If De Bruyne and Sterling are ruled out then I genuinely can see City struggling here because they are now at the start of seven fixtures in four weeks across domestic and European competitions, which is going to test the Citizens’ squad depth to its limit.
Arsenal are also heading into a similar situation but with a Thursday-Sunday-Thursday routine so if this isn’t a must-win for City, it definitely is for Arsenal to give them momentum boost heading into next few weeks.
This therefore is going to be a tough match given what is at stake for both teams heading into the coming weeks but if City continue to be without key players and defend poorly, I can see Arsenal finding the win here given that them seem to have worked out how to grind out results under Mikel Arteta.
Prediction: Manchester City 1-2 Arsenal
Result: Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal