Arsenal v Manchester City
EPL Match Preview
It’s second against third on Monday evening, as Arsenal host Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium in a real Christmas cracker.
IT’S A GREAT FEELING BEING A GUNNER
Arsenal Football Club has had a great December so far, having forced their way into the last 16 of the Champions League and climbed to the summit of the Premier League table. The North London side will not be disheartened by Leicester City’s win over Chelsea on Monday, which dislodged them temporarily at least, from their lofty perch, as they welcome title rivals Manchester City to the capital on Monday. Christmas is always a vital time in the Premier League season, with games coming thick and fast and coach Arsène Wenger will be buoyed by the fact that his side has a wonderful home record against the men from Manchester, having only lost one of their 18 games against them in the Premier League era. In Olivier Giroud, the Gunners have a striker bang in form, scoring 8 in his last 12 league games and 11 in his last 13 outings for the club in all competitions. The best online sports betting sites price him at *2.10 to be an anytime scorer on Monday.
CITY TRYING TO STOP THEIR AWAY-DAY BLUES
The constant cry coming out of press rooms at the Etihad Stadium are that Manchester City are not playing well. Yet for all this, they sit just one point behind Monday night’s opponents and have qualified top of their group in the Champions League – not bad for a team that are struggling! It’s their form away from home that is causing concern however, having failed to win in their last four league matches on the road, having not troubled the scoreboard in their last three. Coach Manuel Pellegrini will also not want to hear the statistic that his side has lost on 22 occasions to Arsenal; their joint highest number of defeats against any Premier League side other than Chelsea. The current lack of firepower may have a lot to do with the absence of Argentinian striker Sergio Agüero, who is set to return at the Emirates on Monday. The betting exchanges also quote him at *2.10 to be an anytime scorer.
There’s not much festive cheer in the Arsenal treatment room this Christmas with Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky, Danny Welbeck, Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sánchez all still unavailable for Wenger. The French tactician has stated that his Chilean playmaker has a slight chance of at least making the substitute’s bench on Monday.
For the visitors, the return of Agüero will be a huge boost ahead of this vital clash, but Pellegrini may still have to do without captain Vincent Kompany, who is still very doubtful for the trip to the capital. Fernandinho and Fabian Delph are pushing for a starting berth in midfield and Kevin De Bruyne should return after being rested in last weekend’s narrow home win over Swansea City.
PROBABLE STARTING XI’S
Arsenal (4-2-3-1) Cech; Monreal, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Bellerin; Flamini, Ramsey; Campbell, Ozil, Walcott; Giroud
Manchester City (4-2-3-1) Hart, Kolarov, Mangala, Otamendi, Sagna; Touré, Fernandinho; Sterling, Silva, De Bruyne; Agüero
HEAD TO HEAD
As stated earlier, Arsenal has a great Premier League home record against Manchester City but recent history makes better reading for the Citizens, having only lost one of their last six at the Emirates. Last season’s corresponding fixture ended, like four of the previous six, in a draw with Sánchez and Wilshere on target for the hosts, Agüero and Martin DeMichelis replying for the visitors.
Arsenal 2.45 Draw 3.50 Manchester City 3.00
*odds courtesy of Bet365
Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)